I read a posting about “how to stay married” that a friend sent me, to see what I thought about it. When I finished, I realized how much: “Love Hyperbole” , “Romance Hyperbole,”, and “Commitment Hyperbole,” we are subject too.
I have been married to my Hero, my best friend, My Kathy , for more than 33 years. I learned a lot during those decades; about me, about her, about change, about life. Nothing stays the same, not love, not romance, not feelings, not people, and certainly, not a marriage. Time has an affect on all things. The way I courted Kathy 34 years ago, well THAT Kevin, and THAT Kathy aren’t here anymore. The strong supple bodies, with the hour glass figure on her, and the broad shoulders on me- have been replaced with, let’s be gentle and say: more huggable bodies. No hard edges anymore, no sharp curves, or firmness to most parts of our bodies. Hair has chosen where to grow, and decided to thin, or disappear, from our heads to sprout up in the most unlikely of places. Sex is not a several times a day, or even a week, or, to be honest, even a month anymore. Sex has been replaced, with a deep penetrating affection that permeates every moment of our day. Our hands reach for each other like they have a life of their own, and once they are safely tangled in a familiar grip- the world, our world together, is okay.
Love, Romance, Commitment, are processes, not events. They unfold over time, sometimes in ways that can’t be predicted, or anticipated. Each day requires you to do maintenance on your relationship. You don’t need the hyperbole that is evident everywhere in our media fed society. Diamond rings? New cars? Fulfilling her every wish, and demand? Putting your life and dreams on hold for his, or hers? Giant expensive boxes of chocolate? None of that is necessary…okay, maybe the Chocolate. LOL Whisking away to romantic getaways, or taking three days on a deserted island will not, repeat, will not, save, or build your long term relationship, although they might, under certain circumstance – build memories, or defuse some stress. To make a love grow, or romance to appear, or to stay committed to one another, over time, it is the little things you need to pay attention to.
Want to have sex with her on Saturday, start on Wednesday! Don’t initiate sex until you have done a few things for her, like: laundry, yard work, the bills, or taken the kids so she can have a quiet cup of coffee. When she is rested, refreshed, and restored THEN tell her about her beauty, her sexiness, her soft skin, pretty eyes, and warm, friendly, funny, personality. Tired loving, is work. A chore. If you are the female in the relationship, sex is not a weapon to be used to reward or punish. And, believe it or not, there is a huge difference between male and female sexual needs, desires, and feelings. In my opinion, most of the sex drive is hardwired from eons of evolution, therefore, male and female desires in that area, seldom match the societal framework we try to hang it on. On top of that, individual tastes, preferences, and basic biological difference between individuals, and timing, all affect the amount, quality, and experience of sexual trysts. Which is why real deep affection is in the cuddles, the hand holds, the kind words, and the hugs. Believe me, for many decades sex will be important for both of you, as it brings you close in a truly intimate way. Sex will never reach the deep level of intimacy provided by a quiet, private, sharing conversation. There is a reason that at the end of life, most couples just want the companionship, and sharing silences that come from years of doing the little things right. You can have sex with almost anyone who is willing, and attractive to you, the number of people you would trust with a secret, is much smaller. The number of people who can sit and share watching your new DVD with, is smaller than that. The person who you feel completely safe with, and trust your heart too, is a small number. Usually only one, at the most two (and that presents its own challenges!).
What are these little things you should do that are bereft of hyperbole?
1) Help. Yep. Help with dinner, with the kids, with chores, with making the bed, with errands. Help out when ever you can. Do the dishes. Paint the porch. Move the furniture without complaining, and leave his ugly recliner alone!
2) Be kind. Always. In all ways. Say: Please, Thank You, I am sorry. When you do say them, mean it. Open doors, open cans, treat her/him with kindness. Tell them they are smart, catch them being smart, and tell them- that way it sticks. When men and women are cranky, or tired, kindness can be as simple as giving them space, a place to rest, or bringing them their favorite book and a hot chocolate , without having been asked. Knowing what will let them chill out, is a kindness. So is making sure they know you love them.
3) This next one is a biggie, and it might be the single most powerful tip you will ever hear for truly good communication. Millions of books, TV shows, and scientific studies show tell us how important good communication is- so why can’t men and women, or partners communicate well with each other? Ready? The reason is simple- most of us talk, and few of us listen. Or, if we listen, we only hear the words. So here is the single most important, deceptively simple, but agonizingly difficult to to do, tip:
When the other person is talking, listen without forming a reply. That’s it.
“What?” I can hear you saying. “What the heck?”
Most of us aren’t listening to the other person, we are just waiting to put in our two cents worth. The whole time they are talking we are formulating a reply, rebuttal, or defense in our minds, which means, we are not listening to them, but ourselves.
Want to have deeper, more meaningful, and interesting conversations…learn to listen. Not to just the words. Tone of voice, what is said , and when, and where, facial expressions, all convey a lot more than words. If all you do is listen to the words, you often miss out on what is really being said.
Which leads to the last things; words should match actions. If you tell her you will do something, then do it. Make your eyes smile too. When you hug someone, relax. Snuggle into it. I need a hug, means they need to be held. NOTE to Guys: Hugs are not foreplay. They are pure comfort, trust , and safety. If it leads to sex, from her initiative, by all means, have a great romp. However, 99% of the time, a hug, is just that. Nothing more, nothing less. It is being held for the sake of being held. Hugs vary in intensity, necessity, and length of time. Do not hurry hugs. Try this, when you hug her- or him, don’t say a word, and hug them gently, and see how long it takes for them to relax in your arms. If they do relax, just hold them until the moment ends…do not rush hugs!
The last thing I want to bring up is something most folks don’t notice: change. Change is a constant. Our bodies age, our tastes change, and our desires wax and wane. Music that used to make us jump up and rush to the dance floor, now seems loud and distracting. Foods we used to love, have been replaced by new tastes, or a preference for old tastes might emerge again. Change means you have to adapt. Being a young couple with no children is much different than being a young couple with two kids. When kids leave the house, the dreaded “empty nest” syndrome, is a real change for a lot of folks. Many good marriages become all about parenting, and the couple hood is taken for granted. The kids leave, and the parents found out, that is what they had become- parents. They forgot, for years, maybe…how to be a couple, how to date, how to talk like they did before kids.
So, be kind, learn to love and be loved as you are now.
And that, isn’t hyperbole.