For a very long time, I have been obsessed with long term “happy” life-enhancing relationships.
Like so many people, I have wrongly assumed that length of partnership was the same as having a quality relationship. Twenty years together ? What is your secret ? The better question : Are you still happy ? Are you still evolving as an individual and as a couple ? Knowing what you know now would you make the same choice ?
These are the same questions that I now present to couples.
As a social scientist and an individual who also likes to create his life daily, it is far more interesting to find out what folk do on a consistent basis that allows joy, growth and mutual respect. After talking with several friends, I recognized patterns that invite opportunities to love.
Humans are creatures of comfort and habit.
This can either be our downfall or a way to move us towards an incredible relationship. The need for a constant and familiar way of doing things can prevent us from simply adding new forms of intimacy and interaction into the ways we relate to one another.
When we make a choice to stick with what we know because ” it is just the way I am ” or better yet my “personality”, no new choices can be utilized or invited in.
My wish is that anyone reading this can have a laugh at my expense and implement the three suggestions. Most of this will be centered on changing things up, switching one pattern and way of doing things for another. It is impossible to have both a pattern (based in isolation and survival) and have a wonderful relationship.
You must choose which is most important.
So many of use choose via default. We sort of wait to see what shows up then choose amidst distress and panic then wonder why our lives are drama filled and angst riddled. Instead, why not deliberately choose to have a relationship that grows and changes all involved for the better. If our goal is to have a great partnership, we often will need to ask how do we do that ?
I have pinpointed three things that can pretty much guarantee the unrelenting growth of your relationship.
Growing up as a kid, we always had chilli on Saturday.
I don’t know why this was but it is what was served every Saturday evening. As an adult some twenty five years later, I developed a ritual of my own. Every New Years’ Eve, my partner and I watched the Twilight Zone Marathon. While these things were not riveting or life changing, I could count on them and knew to expect them. This gave me a certain amount of freedom and structure.
The suggestion here is that you do the same.
Find something that you and your man can agree on that is sacred or important to the both of you and make this your thing. A word of caution and a brief explanation regarding the two “rituals” I mentioned.
While both could be viewed as rituals, I only had a hand in choosing one of them.
To this day , I am less than thrilled about chilli.
I think it is clear which pattern was one of my own accord . We (as a couple) decided that we both loved the Twilight Zone and that this is what New Year’s Eve meant to us. Nobody ever asked me : would you care for something else to eat ?
What are your rituals as a couple ?
Perhaps you can share an individual one(one that you established prior to being together and incorporate it into your relationship). The point here is to decide what ritual would best serve the need to connect to one another and the need to connect outward through a shared experience.
Nothing is more satisfying than having an agreed upon shared experience then talking about it later and relishing in the difference of opinion that occurs as a result of two very different life experiences and world views.
Recently, my sweetie and I watched the incredible Woody Allen film, Interiors. We both gushed over it for its writing, acting and familial dynamics. The things that stood out for me (superb acting choices and clean writing) didn’t resonate with him the same way.
From his perspective the dynamics between parent and child and the ways it can affect every decision made by your children really stood out.
Watching the sisters interact reminded him of his own children.
I saw something completely different. I have no children. Setting aside time to share films that we love individually with one another provides insight into the others views on so much of life it is shocking. In addition to watching great films, we make a point of turning off all electronics so as not to be disturbed during our quiet time.
Create things together that only involve the two of you. It could be as simple as a Scrabble game(which for the life of me I can’t seem to win) or as elaborate as a long drive to some cute hideway once a month.
The key is to keep it consistent, involve both of you and make sure it is something you both enjoy, not tolerate. Notice I said enjoy. Tolerate typically means , “I’d rather not but you’ve strong armed so to keep the peace, I’m in”.