‘Keeping Love Alive and Well’ is similar to nourishing a garden. Gardens, like people thrive with “tender loving care”. This means we must actively ‘cultivate’ with our partner. Left untended, a garden or a relationship will be less beautiful and in the worst case it may whither and die. Grab your garden apparel and get ready to show off your green thumb!
•Feed The Relationship: Respect, trust, appreciation, generosity of spirit and deed are basic and vital ingredients in your ‘Garden’. These components are akin to rich planting soil. Begin each day with renewed kindness. Make it genuine! Faking it feels awful and phony and creates mistrust and tension. Being consciously ‘kind and aware’ of your responses and behaviors like any good habit takes repetition and lots of practice. Relationships are a complicated dance…”It takes two to tango”.
***The old saying, “Catch your Partner Doing Something Right” and tell him or her about it.
Actively reduce and work toward eliminating criticism and negativity. They do nothing but cause erosion and decay. Contempt and defensiveness are ‘Relationship-Killers’. Accentuate the Positive!
•Water the Relationship: Communication is so important to the foundation of all intimate relationships. Men are often less comfortable putting thoughts and feelings into words. Be patient and ‘invite your partner to think about what has been talked about, give him some time to mull it over and ‘check back later’.
***Men may need more time to absorb information, especially if it is about ‘feelings’ and is emotional. Badgering your partner to talk generally ends up with more silence. Extended silences turn into withdrawal. Withdrawal feels awful and is contagious…this becomes a vicious cycle.
***Do not expect your spouse to be a ‘mind reader’. If you know what you want, make sure you express yourself…and do it clearly without anger and accusations. Communicating can also take place on many different levels. Simple eye contact, a warm nod, or knowing smile can speak volumes without uttering a word. If you see an attempt made…do not ignore it. Reinforce any pleasing behavior! Positive reinforcement really works!
***Expressing interest by asking questions is an excellent way to express caring. However, do this only when you can be a good listener. Nothing feels worse than having someone ask us something and then “half” listen while being disinterested, distracted or preoccupied.
•Provide Sunshine: Think of sunshine as the ‘pleasures’ of marriage. Make sure you ‘plan fun’. Who does the planning? Who cares? Do not keep a tally. It is the result that counts. Just make it happen. Date night, no matter how simple, are good antidotes for difficult days. The sweetness produced in one evening can last for days…but not forever. It is imperative to ‘create’ more fun again and again!
***Is either one of you using money as an excuse to avoid having fun? Why? Fun does not have to be expensive or take up a huge amount of time. Create a ‘wish list’ that represents each of you and see where there are some crossovers. The sky is the limit…it is only a list! Couples can be very different and still enjoy each other immensely. Sharing dreams and exchanging ideas without fear of judgment are what happy couples learn to do with one another.
•Eliminate the Weeds: Finally, yes, you are going to find some weeds growing in the garden. Weeds are like the problems and disappointments that are bound to occur in any relationship. They are to be expected. They will exist in the most magnificent of gardens. Simply, get out there and take care of them. Don’t ignore them because they will multiply in time…and choke out the flowers.
•Perfect Gardens Exist Only In Paintings-
•Perfect Relationships Exist Only In Our Dreams-
•Weeds Are Never The Problem, Neglect Is!