The Good Life #4. Storm proof your love relationship.
10 keys to greater intimacy and joy with your soulmate.
“A relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we’ve got on our hands is a dead shark.” Woody Allen from the movie, Annie Hall.
We’re all looking for the perfect mate. The person who will rock our world, share our deepest secrets, make us laugh, inspire us to take on the world, love us despite our faults, and make us feel complete. (As a bonus they should be great at Shiatsu massage and be willing to take out the trash.) That person is you.
“Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”[i]
I’m not saying you won’t ever have a soul mate. Become your own soulmate first, so you have the capacity to give away all those precious gifts we all so deeply desire from others. Dan Sullivan’s Law #3, “Always make your contribution bigger than your reward,”[ii] won’t work if you don’t have an abundance of love, compassion, energy, and joy to share.
“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi
Breaking down the barriers inside us and between us and our loved ones is a lifelong process of learning, growing and adapting. Relationships and people aren’t static. We must constantly evolve or we will get left behind as our partners and our relationships change.
Here are my 10 practical keys to keeping your shark alive.
1) Communication is one of the most important elements in a successful relationship. For many women, intimacy means talking about the relationship.[iii] Especially for men, be willing to talk about US.
2) When men talk about a subject, (e.g. — US) it’s often about finding a solution to fix a problem. For women, the conversation about US is often about emotional connection.[iv] Your relationship may not fit these gender “typecasts”, but be willing to genuinely listen and not fix it.
“Marriage is really tough because you have to deal with feelings or lawyers.” Richard Pryor (who was married 7 times)
3) All relationships have rough patches. It’s inevitable. The key to a long-lasting marriage is not to ignore unresolvable differences, but to reach an agreement on how to disagree.[v] Talk it over and come to a compromise that is acceptable to both parties.
“A wise husband understands every word his wife is not saying.”[vi]
4) Set ground rules for arguments. Complaints about your partner should be expressed as actions that caused you pain, not character assassinations. They should include one specific example to illustrate how you felt and a please request for a different behavior.
“Apologizing does not mean that you’re wrong and they’re right. It means that you value your relationship more than your ego.”[vii]
5) Find your partner’s love language, and express your affection in their language. Whether it’s words of appreciation, acts of service, gifts, quality time or physical touch, showing you care in your partner’s language will help you grow closer.[viii]
6) Couple who share positive events in an active and constructive manner build intimacy, commitment, trust, closeness, and stability.[ix] Celebrate the happy moments together. It brings more joy into your relationship.
7) Express your gratitude to your partner. It boosts both the recipient and the giver and strengthens your connection.[x]
8) Share a laugh. Laughing together signals that you both see the world the same way and builds stronger relationships.[xi]
“My wife and I found the secret to making a marriage last. Two times a week, we go to a nice restaurant: a little wine, good food. She goes on Tuesdays. I go Fridays.” Henny Youngman
9) Practice random acts of kindness. Terri Orbuch, who studied 373 couples for more than 28 years, found that frequent small acts of kindness are a predictor of happiness in a relationship.[xii]
10) Avoid the relationship rut by reintroducing fun and excitement.[xiii] Don’t take one another for granted and look for new playful activities to share together. My wife stopped riding bikes with me, till I bought her an E-bike. Now she kicks my tush on our bike rides together;-).
Gary Gilberg and his wife Karyn have been together for over 30 years. He still leaves the lights on.
[i] Author unknown
[ii] Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura, “The Laws of Lifetime Growth.” (2006) Barrett-Koehler Publishers, pg. 25
[iii] M. Davis and H. Oathout, “Maintenance of Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships: Empathy and Relational Competence” (1987) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.53. 2, pgs. 397–410.
[iv] Duncombe J, Marsden D. Love and Intimacy: The Gender Division of Emotion and `Emotion Work’: A Neglected Aspect of Sociological Discussion of Heterosexual Relationships. Sociology. 1993;27(2):221–241.
[v] Daniel Goleman, “Emotional Intelligence” (1995) Bantam Publishing House. Pg. 133
[vi] Author unknown.
[vii] Author unknown.
[viii] Gary Chapman, “The Five Languages of Love: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.”
(1992) Northfield Publishing.
[ix] Gable, S. L., & Reis, H. T. (2010). “Good news! Capitalizing on positive events in an interpersonal context.” In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 42 (p. 195–257). Academic Press
[x] S. Algoe et al. “It’s the little things: Everyday gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationships” (2010). Personal Relationships, 17, 217–233.
[xi] Kurtz, L. E., & Algoe, S. B. (2017). When sharing a laugh means sharing more: Testing the role of shared laughter on short-term interpersonal consequences. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 41(1), 45–65. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-016-0245-9
[xii] Terri Orbuch. “5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great.” (2009) River Grove Books. Chapter 2, Give Incentives and Rewards, Pg. 75
[xiii] Terri Orbuch. “5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great.” (2009) River Grove Books. Pg. 177