Valentine’s Relationship Requires Consistent Effort
- Make sure that you express your affection verbally every day. All of us like “sweet nothings” whispered in our ear. “Sweet nothings” usually consist of genuinely complimenting or thanking your mate whenever you can, telling your mate positive things you feel about him/her, or expressing appreciation for his/her virtues. “I love the way you look at me.” “That was a great dinner you made last night.” “You look really lovely.” “I love you.” ” I’m glad you’re in my life.” These types of statements help cancel out a whole lot of resentments and irritations.
- Express your love physically every day, through touch, hugs and kisses.
- Make your relationship a priority. Structure time to be together that specifically nurtures the relationship.
- Do joint activities, projects and interests that allow you to grow together.
- What behaviors would make you feel more cherished? Create a list of such behaviors and share them with your partner. Agree to do two or three of the behaviors on your partner’s list, and then be sure to follow through and actually do what you say you will.
- Address the following two questions with each other: “Things would be better between us if only you would….” “Things would be better between us if only I would…..”
- Do your fun activities include your intimate partner? What can the two of you do to in order to create more fun in the relationship?
- Ask for what you want. Don’t expect your mate to read your mind.
- On a sheet of paper, record all of your ways of escaping or putting off your intimate partner. Include the ways you avoid communication, conflict, closeness or sex, all of the inappropriate ways you seek safety, or the things you do that draw energy away from your relationship. Examples include working too much, being consistently preoccupied, busy, exhausted or tired when the two of you are together, being a sports or T.V. junkie, drinking, lying, refusing to talk, picking fights—in short anything you do that allows you to avoid or put off your intimate partner.
- Make a second list of what you perceive as your partner’s exits from the relationship. Take turns sharing your lists. Invite your partner’s comments and additions, and add those to your list. Then underline the exits you are willing to reduce or eliminate, and write out the following agreement: “Starting this week (insert date) I agree to reserve more time and energy for our relationship. Specifically, I agree to: ……..” This exercise, and the following one, were borrowed from Harville Hendrix in the book Getting The Love You Want (Harper Perennial).
- Write a series of short sentences that describe your personal vision of a deeply satisfying love relationship. Include the qualities that you already have that you want to keep, and the qualities you wish you had. Write each sentence in the present tense, as if it were already happening. For example: “We have fun together,” “We have great sex,” “We are loving parents,” “We are affectionate with each other.” Make all of your items positive statements. Write “We settle our differences peacefully,” rather than “We don’t fight.” Share your sentences with your partner. Note the items that the two of you have in common. If your partner has written sentences that you agree with but did not think of yourself, add those to your list. Circle the items that are most important to you.
- Working together, design a mutual relationship vision. Start with the items that you both agree are most important. Post this list where you can see it daily. Once a week review and update it together.
- As partners, take turns completing each of the following sentences about your sex life. Repeat the sentence as many times as possible, with as many specific responses that come to mind. Your communication should cover all aspects of lovemaking, including environment, foreplay, intercourse and behavior after intercourse. The three sentences are: “I really/enjoy/appreciate it when……” “I’m uncomfortable with/about/when…..” “I’d like to/I wish……” Decide if there are specific behaviors you would like to change or try.
- Ask yourself the following question and record your responses. “If I were to operate more effectively in my relationship, what would I be doing differently?”
- Address with your mate the following question: “I love it when you….”
- Write down on a sheet of paper, “What I want for us to improve in our relationship is….” Make as extensive a list as possible, being specific and concrete. Share your lists with each other.
- Make a list of your partner’s positive qualities and good traits, and tell him/her what they are.
- Each person assigns him or herself a “love day” one day of the week. On that day, the person giving the “love day” attempts to be extremely pleasing to his/her mate. A variation of this approach is to set aside briefer periods of time for “love hours” or “love evenings,” with the same goal.
- Be willing to tell your partner what you need and want in the relationship, and do so on an on-going basis.
- If an intimate partner is saying to you that they’re unhappy, that something needs to be changed, that they are lonely, listen to what they are saying. Their pain is a message that something is wrong.
If you want your relationship to work, you have to make it your conscious purpose to make it work. In order for romance to stay alive, you have to keep it alive. Loving someone isn’t enough. It requires effective skills and a lot of effort and energy to make a relationship happy, successful and loving.
If you find yourself withholding or resisting your partner’s requests, examine whether you could be stuck in a rebellious adolescent stage of maturity, resisting being asked or told what to do by someone else.
Also, don’t criticize or put down your partner if you can avoid it. None of us like to be criticized, and many of us are easily hurt or angered by it. It’s then easy to get critical back.
“Love is the only gold.” —Alfred Lord Tennyson