This question was posed on our Growinlove Facebook page at the beginning of February and the best idea was to receive $100. As you will see, from the following entries which are only three of the best submitted ideas, there is a great deal of wisdom and a great deal of variety.
Jodi Hann- Ring
Fun as part of our home life… Well it only took the first half of our marriage for me to figure out, “don’t sweat the small stuff!”, which is hard when you’re newly married and then add children. You want things “perfect”, uhh… not gonna happen!
I found and Von found, laughter is the best medicine. Things are gonna happen, you’re going to argue, but what’s more important?… getting the dishes and laundry done or snuggling up together watching a movie, remembering funny stories and just enjoying each other?
There are always going to be dirty dishes and dirty laundry, there won’t always be the two of you laughing and enjoying each other so take the time to love each other. That’s what we try to do on a daily basis. A quick kiss, a hug, a compliment. When you feel the love you don’t sweat the small stuff because you have so much bigger and better things to enjoy and look forward to.
Jodi’s observations are packed with the wisdom that she and her husband, Von, have accumulated over years of experience. It’s the kind of wisdom we wish had had from the beginning. It’s the kind of wisdom that other people might have tried to convey to us in words but that we could only gain through experience. From Jodi’s entry I get the following (and maybe you’ll get more):
- When she says, “it only took the first half of our marriage for me to figure out…”, she’s acknowledging that when we get married, we might have fallen in love, but we didn’t really know how to love.
- When she says, “for me to figure out”, it’s obvious that Jodi takes a lot of personal responsibility for the quality of the relationship, as opposed to blaming Von, her spouse, for the quality, or lack of quality, of the relationship. Real positive change in a relationship happens only when the partners take personal responsibility for growing in love and becoming the most loving people they can be.
- What Jodi figured out was, “don’t sweat the small stuff”, and don’t expect things to be perfect. “Small stuff” is inevitable and it conflicts with our wish that things could be perfect. That’s really frustrating and disappointing for us as we learn that, as much as we want our marriage and family life to be perfect, small stuff is going to get in the way. And add to that harsh reality the fact that our idea of perfect usually conflicts with our partner’s idea of perfect.
- Jodi and Von discovered that “laughter is the best medicine”. If you read Jodi’s and Von’s “Bingo Night” date idea, you might have gotten the impression that I got. Jodi and Von are fun people. They are naturals at having a good time, being playful, laughing and kidding around. Playful, light interaction and activity while tolerating disagreement or disagreeable circumstances, helps to affirm the fact that, as tough as things might get our marriages are still more important than whether or not the house is as clean as we want, or whether or not all the bills get paid on time.
- Jodi makes it clear that there is always going to be more work that needs to be done than can be done in a day and that there are always going to be disagreements. She also makes it clear that none of those things are as important as taking the time for a quick kiss (I actually recommend long kisses), a hug, and a compliment.
- Jodi also lays it out there. We won’t always have the opportunities to snuggle, to play, to show love and affection. Now is the time to do what is most important, to prioritize love over our fantasy of perfections, to accept personal responsibility for becoming more loving as individuals and for making our marriages the best that they can be by choosing to initiate and create loving situations.
“Small stuff” and disagreements are inevitable. They don’t preclude love and affection. By tolerating the small stuff and disagreements AND proactively initiating affectionate words and behaviors, we affirm the relationship, we affirm the importance of our partners, and we nurture and even create the feelings of love. Keeping the feelings of love alive and well, actually choosing to nurture feelings of love by initiating loving actions, makes life more enjoyable and helps us not to “sweat the small stuff”.
Occasionally, my wife flashes me. (What she flashes me is between her and me.) Sometimes it’s during one of those rare moments when we are the only ones in the room, occasionally it’s during an argument, and sometimes it’s after we’ve said our good-byes and I’m on the way out the door. I really love it. It reminds me of our sexual connection. It also gives me a nice visual to remember throughout the day.
Thank you, Gabriel for sharing that idea. You address such an important subject that so few people are willing to talk about. It’s hard enough for people to share ideas about their own experience with love and relationships, but to bring up something to do with sexual intimacy is even more difficult. You make some very important points in your observation.
- Sexual intimacy between a committed couple needs to remain alive and rich in order for their relationship to continue to grow. It certainly changes over time but that doesn’t mean it fades. It’s a myth, or perhaps a self-fulfilling prophesy, that sexual intimacy fades with aging.
- You appreciate that your wife enjoys being a sexual person. Unfortunately, too few women enjoy being sexual beings but only view sexual behavior as a duty, an obligation and one that they would actually prefer not to do.
- If she flashes you during an argument she’s saying something very profound. She’s saying ,”even though we disagree and I might not even like you right now, you are my lover, we will get past this disagreement by agreeing or agreeing to disagree, and you and I are more important as lovers than this disagreement is.” Actively disagreeing and simultaneously choosing to be loving is a great ability that few people develop without years of experience.
- You like that she is playful and spontaneous in her sexuality with you and that she initiates sexual behavior. When she initiates she shows that she appreciates you as “her man” and that she’s sexually attracted to you.
- It’s clear from your description that you enjoy sexual interplay between you and your wife and that you don’t require that every physically intimate affection lead to “going all the way”. Many more women would be more spontaneous and playful if they didn’t fear that they were obligating themselves to more than a momentary enjoyment of sexual chemistry.
Apparently your sex life is not something that is confined to an occasional ten-minute ritual that only occurs under limited circumstances, e.g., between the sheets, in the dark, man on top, etc. Instead, you and your wife enjoy your sexual connection in playful, spontaneous, unpredictable ways that don’t necessarily involve someone having an orgasm. An ongoing sense of sexual chemistry helps set our marriages apart from all other relationships (assuming we are sexually monogamous). We have other close friendships and family relationships that can be intensely close. But when sexual chemistry with our spouses is kept alive it keeps us connected and connecting in ways that are unique to our marriage.
For the marriage– Every day write one note, from “I love you”, “you have sexy eyes”, “our honeymoon”, “how you bite your lip to concentrate” etc. It can be written on a post it or sticky note or even just a small clean piece of scrap paper. Then the fun… Put each one in a pocket or somewhere in their clean clothing. When they wear that pair of pants, or shirt, or coat they will at some point in their day find it. What a nice surprise?! And its takes a second to do, PLUS if you do it every day you get in on the suspense as you wonder which outfit they will wear that day, which note will they find, when might they find it? It is fantastic!
Elizabeth obviously has fun being a loving partner.
- It’s clear that Elizabeth chooses to focus her attention on what she enjoys about her husband and their relationship. Love sometimes requires focus and attention to what we like and enjoy. Obviously, this implies that there are things that are better ignored. Several things are clear from Elizabeth’s suggestion.
- Elizabeth views love as something we do, and, something we do daily. Love is not simply a state of being we fell into and will remain in “happily ever after”.
- Elizabeth adores her husband and lets him know in tangible ways–even if the tangible ways are simply words on pieces of paper. She doesn’t just assume that he knows she loves him. She literally spells it out.
- She mentions specific things about him that show that she pays attention to him and what some of the things are that she specifically enjoys about him.
- She chooses to remember happy times between them. All couples have good and bad times that they can remember. Couples who choose to remember the good times and express pleasure about the good times tend to create more good times and good feelings.
- Elizabeth gets pleasure and has fun wondering what loving message her husband will discover.
Whether she meant to or not, Elizabeth said that love is a choice. It is a choice to focus attention on the positive about our spouses and our relationships, on what we adore and appreciate, and it is a choice to show that love and appreciation in ways that effectively convey it to our spouses.
Three more ideas will be described in the next blog post (hopefully by 2/27).