Christmas and Valentines are now well in the rear view mirror. But I am still a little astonished at having listened to merchants present themselves as relationship experts. If you present just the right diamond from just the right jeweler you are sure to get “that look” you’ve been missing. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way apposed to showering your sweetheart with diamonds on special occasions.
I recently had my wife’s wedding ring reconditioned and the joy I saw in her eyes was worth far more than the several hundred dollars it cost to get the job done. What I am saying is that if the luster seems have gone out of your relationship and you’re relying solely on shiny jewelry to bring it back, you may be disappointed. The real secrets to a gleaming relationship are actually found in the small things you do every day. This is a phenomenon discovered by studying hundreds of lasting and vibrant relationships over the past 35 years. These couples, it turns out, don’t rely on intermittent grand gestures to keep their relationship thriving. It’s not that they don’t do them at all, it’s that they don’t live off them. They tended to think of them as dessert.
The secret to real and lasting romance, the main course as it turns out, is actually fairly simple and often much less expensive than diamonds. It’s the small things you do every day that let your partner know that they have a reserved place in your heart and that you are interested in their lives. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Try being intentional about expressing genuine interest in your partner’s life. Ask them a random question with no agenda other than to learn about them. You might try something like “what do you most value about your closest friend? ” or “If you could have dinner with any famous person, who would you pick?” It’s the kind of questions we were likely to ask on a first date, but get forgotten in the bustle of raising kids and keeping the mortgage paid. If you have a hard time coming up with topics to query, fear not, you are in good company. And there’s help! For a mere $1.99 the App Store has an app called “Open Ended Questions”. It’s a great tool that helps set into motion the act of simple and very personal conversation. An art any of us can loose in the intensity of life. If you have to think back more than a month to the last time you learned something new about your partner, here’s some things you might want to give a try:
- Set aside at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to ask questions. Don’t try to change or disagree with the answers. Simply accept them as information.
- Turn your phone to silent and leave it in your pocket. Turn off the TV and power down the computer.
- Make sure the kids are taken care of, or otherwise preoccupied.
- Ask questions with no agenda to persuade or disagree.
- Ask your partner to ask you the same questions in return.
Think of it as an experiment. See what happens to your sense or romance and connection after doing this for a week. And see what kind of “look” you get!