Occasionally I browse the various bookstores to see what is being offered in the “self help” and “relationship” sections. Recently I came across a book by Dr. Barton Goldsmith offering the following suggestions. I share them with you, plus my own elaboration.
1. Relationship meeting: Once a week sit down with your partner and discuss your relationship. What’s going on “with us”? Life can get very busy and time together may be difficult to come by. Some couples may avoid such time together because the relationship is so poor. Avoidance leads to deterioration.
2. Make sure you have your partner’s full attention before addressing important issues: Agree on a time to talk and then be fully present to your partner, both as a way of showing respect for the person and for fully being attentive to what is being said.
3. Give in on the little things: Too often couples get in a power struggle over minor things. A good way to deal with this difference of opinion or action is to rate how important it is to you. Let’s say it is a 5 on a scale of 1-10 for you and a 9 for your partner. Let the 9 be the winner. The relationship is more important than getting your way. Controllers will have trouble doing this.
4. Find a way to say “I love you” beyond just saying the words: Thoughtful acts of kindness and complimentary words can forcefully demonstrate that you truly do “love” your partner.
5. When hurt or angry, communicate your feelings in a loving constructive way as soon as circumstances allow: Too often people hold things in for a long time and much later blow up and bring up the dastardly thing done by the other. Or, some people overreact with angry overkill and make a scene that usually is regretted later.
6. Be a team player: Developing the relationship to its full potential is the responsibility of each person. Initiative and cooperation involving things that need to be done around the house, socializing, and coming up with creative ideas for living life fully.
7. Work on your relationship: Some relationships need more work than others, but all relationships need to be a high priority and deserve dedication and attentiveness.
8. Create new goals together: It is important to have things to look forward to and strive to attain.
9. Fight fair: It is important to be respectful, even what the issue is hotly contested. No blaming or accusing. No bringing up the past.
10. Act romantic and you will feel romantic: Try to make love at least one time a week on average. “Making love” does not necessarily mean intercourse or orgasm. It’s about sharing a special sensual togetherness.
How well do you do in these matters? Be honest. Invite feedback from your spouse as to what his/her perception is. Too many people read such things and say to themselves, “that’s interesting”, and then leave these invitations behind and begin to wrap the garbage in them. Missed Opportunity!