Dear Ilana and Jess: Valentine’s Day is around the corner and I’m ready to admit defeat. My wife and I have only been married for 5 years, but we’re fresh out of romantic ideas. How do I keep things loving and exciting, when there’s really nothing new to learn about each other? -Jeremy
Dear Jeremy: With all due respect, you’ve got that wrong. No matter how well you know a person, it’s impossible to know everything about them. We’re all dynamic; constantly evolving with the chaos and change of life. Successful marriages require both partners to pursue and study each other through the years. As you’re experiencing, most often it’s not neglect or disinterest that sidelines a marriage. The daily humdrum displaces the enthusiasm we begin with, and it can starve us for passion, if we let it. On any given weekday, there are checklists and obligations that consume our time. When we’re caught up in minutia, it’s easy to lose the forest in the trees.
With that said, there are many, simple things you can do to keep romance alive. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.
Look each other in the eyes. This may seem like a given - until you find yourself at the dinner table, responding to your fourteenth consecutive email. Sometimes, we’re so consumed by work and screens that we don’t realize we’re ignoring one another. While the effects of this distraction aren’t always felt in the moment, they accumulate. When we’re distracted, it may be impersonal. But our partners may still receive it as dismissal and rejection. Be selective with your attention and look your wife in the eyes when she speaks with you. (Of course, she needs to do the same for you). If you find yourself inevitably distracted, acknowledge it. Tell your wife, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to ignore you. I just got an urgent email and I’ll feel stressed if I don’t get back to them right away.”
Take a break from talking about logistics. When all of your interactions are information exchange, communication becomes boring and routine. Your spouse is your co-captain, but that is not their sum total. When you’re done addressing the humdrum, ask your wife what brought her joy today. Ask her for her most unpopular opinion. Then let her ask you. (Hint: This is a good Valentine’s Day dinner exercise).
Learn and serve together. The same brain chemistry at play in the early stages of romance can be reinvigorated by new experiences. Many couples reach a romantic stalemate when they think to themselves, “we know everything about each other.” So, turn your mutual (or individual) interests outward and learn something new. Find a cooking class, learn a new sport or language together, or, teach your wife how to do something you’re already good at and let her teach you something she enjoys. Dare to have some fun!
Happy Valentine’s Day, All!
Say This: “If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?”
Not That: “What do you want to do for dinner tonight?”
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
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