Sometimes It’s Really Simple.

 

Yesterday I ran into a friend who had just celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary.  She was bubbly and excited about how happy they now were.  “The first 15 years were really rough but now we get along great!”  I knew that they had difficulty during the first years of her marriage so I asked, “What changed?”

 

She grinned and said, “I just quit looking for all the things I didn’t like about him.”

 

Focus

 

 

Isn’t it sometimes tempting to inventory all the things ‘wrong’ about the person we love?  It helps to remember that they are probably doing the same about us.  We get what we focus upon, and what we focus upon, grows.  Why not ‘grow’ what you love about someone?   Choosing to do that is truly Love Applied.

Advertisements

Love Applied….Man-Style, Take 2!

My Sweetheart and I are coming up on two years together on Valentine’s Day, and I thought it would be a good idea to check in with him to get his perspective on our relationship and Love in general. Our breakfast interview continues (you can read Take 1 here)…

Melinda Walsh

Me: What does Love mean to you?

Sweetheart: “Sex.” (Said with a grin! Gotta love him!) “To me, Love means intimacy, which doesn’t necessarily equate to sex. Although that’s a great thing! Love means sharing your deepest thoughts and most vulnerable feelings. It’s somebody that you can talk to about anything.

“Love is also a smile…when you think of them the corners of your mouth curl up and it makes you feel good. (Me: Hearing that made me smile in return.)”

Me: Does that apply to just a romantic relationship?

Sweetheart: “No, I would say not. There are people of all ages and genders that I have feelings of love for.”

Me: How do you show that you love them?

Sweetheart: “I do things for people I love.”

Me: Like what?

Sweetheart: “Fix their roofs.” (Me: he went up on my roof in a rainstorm at night because there was a leak in my attic. His love language is definitely acts of service!) He continues: “The desire to please someone you love, comes with that sense of intimacy. Love is also spending time with someone you enjoy being with, coming up with things to do together.”

Me: Like what?

Sweetheart: “It can be anything. Silly things. Just sitting on the back porch talking. Or going on a big European vacation. Going grocery shopping—even when you don’t feel like it but when they would like for you to go with them. It’s a give and take…the things you want to do and the things they would like for you to do. “

I started Love Applied because I view Love as not just a feeling, but actions. There is a practical side to loving someone, to putting actions that the other can see and take that as the gift that it is. My Sweetheart is right, loving someone isn’t all about you and what you want. The other person is NOT there to serve you. It’s about simultaneously giving and receiving, which keep Love flowing.

And that’s Love Applied, Man-Style, Take 2.

An Invitation to Love

So it’s February, a special month for me.  Our anniversary is on February 14, and my birthday follows a few days later.  One year ago, I started Love Applied, after so many conversations with friends who just wanted to experience more Love in their life!  Who doesn’t?   The response has been heartwarming, and I decided to use the month of February as a project to really ramp it up.  I heard Wayne Dyer say that Love isn’t just a feeling, it’s really an action, and that’s where the idea of Love Applied came from.  What does love sound like when you speak it?  And I’m not just talking about the words, “I love you”, but our larger, ongoing conversations with those whom we love.  Our words can convey so many things:  respect, anger, support, criticism, and on and on.  Speaking Lovingly to someone takes a commitment and pays off in intimacy and safety.

Love Applied

Same with our actions.  Do we take the time to do those little acts of kindness that tell our Sweethearts that they are important to us?  To lend a helping hand to a co-worker or friend.  “Sweethearts” can be a broad category and I invite you to expand that definition to include everyone you meet in February.  I believe that at our core, we are all innately loving beings that occasionally forget that we are….so let’s use February to reconnect with our Loving Selves and spread that around to our world.  I’ll be posting ideas and reminders all month long, so check back often!

That’s Love Applied!

After the Sparkly Phase….Then What?

One question I hear over and over is “How do we make love last once the sparkly phase is over?”  The initial attraction is referred to as “limerance”, where your partner can do no wrong, and their every quirk is incredibly charming.  Sooner or later, one of you will get the flu, have a bad day at work, and the aspects of your partner that you couldn’t get enough of now drive you crazy.  What follows next is crucial to the longevity of your relationship.  Either you break it off in favor of finding the next New Thing, or you buckle down and find some deeper, lasting ways to connect.

In an article entitled, “That Loving Feeling Takes A Lot of Work”, author Jane Brody reports that studies show that: “… the happiness boost that occurs with marriage lasts only about two years, after which people revert to their former levels of happiness — or unhappiness.

She goes on to write that “Infatuation and passion have even shorter life spans, and must evolve into “companionate love, composed more of deep affection, connection and liking,” according to Sonya Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

My Sweetheart and I are coming up on our second anniversary (we first met on Valentine’s Day…could that be any more romantic?) and this topic has been on our minds lately.  What are some practices that we can do to keep our relationship healthy and stay connected over time?

Here’s what we came up with, and now I’ll share them with you.  We call them The Five Habits of Happy Sweethearts.

1. The Habit of Appreciation and Gratitude

2. The Habit of Variety

3. The Habit of Keeping Things Clean

4. The Habit of Commitment

5. The Habit of Affection

Here’s how we practice these Habits.

1.  The Habit of Appreciation and Gratitude.  It’s a very human trait to become habituated over time to the things that make us feel good, leading us to take the things our Sweetheart does for us for granted.  A loving relationship is composed of many actions and interactions, and the five-year old inside of us likes to be appreciated for the efforts we make on behalf of others.  In other words, if your Sweetheart does things you like for them to do, make darn sure you thank them in whatever way you choose.  In a story of how powerful this is, a friend who is in a happy 18 year marriage told me that she mended a time of marital stress by shifting from what bugged her about her husband’s then current behavior, and focused on writing down each day the things he did for her that she was grateful for.  “I thought when I started that I would only have one or two things to write down”, she said.  “Each day my list got longer and longer and after only a few days, I wasn’t mad at him any more.”  The lesson here is that you can consciously shift your focus, and that the things you love about them are always present if you look for them.

2.  The Habit of Variety.  No, this doesn’t mean cheating on them!  What it means is that couples who seek out new experiences together get the benefit and thrill that comes from shared growth.  What this means is to try something that neither of you have done before.  Salsa lessons?  Skydiving?  Traveling to a new city?  Trying a new cuisine?  The actual event isn’t as important is that it is new to both of you and that you do it together.

3.  The Habit of Keeping Things Clean.  My Sweetheart and I make a point of resolving issues as soon as we can, rather than letting them linger.  We find that addressing uncomfortable topics early on keeps them from growing into deep-seated resentments and gives us more mental space to just have fun with each other.  “Under-the-rug” issues put distance between us and we have found that life just feels better when we stay emotionally connected.

4.  The Habit of Commitment.  In any long term relationship there are times when one of you ‘works at it’ more than the other.  There are many reasons, family or work obligations, health circumstances, you name it.   At some point one of the people mentally ‘leave’ the relationship and once that happens, it can be pretty much over.  So this habit is designed to be a preventive measure.  Put your relationship on the top of your To Do list, and even if you don’t practice our Habits, I’m sure you have your own that keep your relationship fresh.  Neither party wants to think that they are the ones doing all the work.

5.  The Habit of Affection.  Babies (both human and animal) fail to thrive when deprived of physical touch, and I believe that relationships fail as well in the absence of physical affection.  A non-sexual touch sends a message of love, of support, of comfort, of reassurance, and is a powerful connector.  Make hugs a regular part of your relationship.

 

That’s Love Applied!

Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming, Folks!

My parent’s 62nd wedding anniversary was July 21, 2012 and my sister and I wanted to do something special for them this year. Dad is 90 and mom is 82, and Dad’s health won’t allow him to hold up for a big event so we knew we’d have to keep it simple.

July 21, 1950. Mom at 19, Dad a WW2 Navy vet at 28. They got married at Amite Baptist Church in Denham Springs and headed to Biloxi for a honeymoon after a home reception. They still have the clothes and the cake topper.

What to do? We decided to enroll our Facebook friends and ask them to send anniversary cards—we were hoping for at least 62 for the 62nd! Neither parent is online so we knew we could keep it a secret, and so we made a request at the beginning of July asking for help from our friends.

The response was great! We were blown away by how many people took the time to choose a card for them, and most wrote a little note of appreciation if they knew them or told how they knew one of us if they didn’t. The best part was when one friend jumped the gun by a couple of weeks and Mom called me to tell me of the ‘sweet card they sent’. “Oh, if you only knew what’s coming!,” I thought.

The cards started trickling in. First one or two, then five or six, then one day ten. By this time Mom had caught on that we had arranged a surprise and she called every day after to read us the names and the cards. “We can’t wait til the postman comes!” she said.

The tally totaled 67! From 18 states and two countries. Many were from people they had known but hadn’t heard from in a while, and others were from friends of mine and my sisters. What touched them most of all is that so many people took the time to select and send a card just for them.

My parents have both done a lot for others in their lifetimes. We grew up being a part of a community where everyone helps everyone else. And like so many who are used to helping, my parents weren’t used to being on the receiving end. Their delight was evident with every card they received.

Taking time to do for someone in an unexpected way is Love Applied. And I am grateful for my two wonderful teachers 🙂