Early dating can be passionate and exciting. There may be long, sweet kisses. There may be long-stemmed roses. There may be intensely romantic nights that take our breath away. It’s the “honeymoon phase.” We may currently be savoring the embrace of our honeymoon or perhaps reminiscing about the nights we stayed up laughing until the sun came up. Sadly this ardor doesn’t last forever. It wouldn’t be called a phase if it did, right? So what then is the secret to maintaining longterm happiness?
We maintain our intimate friendship much like we cultivate a garden where the horticulture is comprised of the three elements doing, talking and touching. The relationship flourishes when both partners tend to their garden every day.
Start by doing something for your spouse that shows you’re paying attention and that you care. If she looks cold, get her a blanket or make her some tea. Do things together. Explore common interests or try the things the other likes to do.
Talking involves being emotionally supportive, listening and sharing. It means complimenting your partner on how she looks or calling him out of the blue just to let him know you are thinking about him. Asking about her day and then actively listening to her may help her feel loved and connected. Be thoughtful. Talking about the oil bill, chores or who’s going to pick up the kids doesn’t count. Healthy talking also means not being afraid to share what’s really on your mind. You need a thick skin. You are not afraid to talk to your best friend, are you? Fear of abandonment, fear of no longer being found attractive, fear of expressing that you don’t feel loved and fear of expressing that you are unsatisfied with the intimacy in your marriage are several areas that spouses are sometimes afraid to talk about. When fears are not discussed because they are uncomfortable, they are often expressed later as an emotion we may be more comfortable with: anger.
The honeymoon phase may have been very physical, but touching isn’t only about lovemaking. A warm kiss, a playful bit of footsie and stroking your partner’s cheek are all little gestures that only take a moment. But if you do it right, the positive energy from the moment you create can carry you through a whole day. Kissing your partner in the elevator when no one is looking or admiring her while you caress her hand lets her know that you are completely connected with her.
Making a big difference in your relationship is accomplished one small step at a time. Be mindful of the little things that mean a lot. Extend your honeymoon or rekindle the old flame by tending to your garden.
Jeremy Skow maintains a private practice in Manhasset. Call him at 516-322-9133, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mental healthcounselingny.com.