It’s Springtime and love is definitely in the air. Tis’ the season for lots of weddings and proposals, including a number of my clients and friends who have recently gotten engaged. So here’s some words of advice to help make your relationships as successful, loving and lasting as possible!
~By Relationship & Dating Coach DeAnna Lorraine
1. Think of Marriage as an exciting Adventure…
Your attitude going into anything will dictate the outcome of it. If you go into marriage with a scared, pessimistic or cynical mindset as if marriage is a “doom,” or the attitude of “Omigosh, ONE person/penis/vagina for the rest of my life??” Then you’re going to feel deprived. Or the attitude of “So many marriages end in divorce now, how is mine going to be any different?” Then you’ll find ways to subconsciously sabotage your marriage – and solidify divorce as your fate. Marriage instead should be thought of as an incredible adventure, with a compatible partner in crime that you’ve chosen to be on this rollercoaster with. Your marriage will be a blast, if you go into it looking at it like that. Just buckle up and get excited for the ride, bumps, turns and all!
2. Incorporate lots of Variety and a little Mystery.
Marriages need variety. I repeat, that is a NEED – not a want. Don’t let things drift off into the boring and predictable, neither inside nor outside the bedroom. Keep it spicy, Keep it fresh, and continuously add new things to your relationship. Not only should you make it a habit to regularly try new things as a couple, like taking a new class together, learning a foreign language together, or trying something new sexually, but you should also add variety to your own individual lives on a regular basis as well to keep things spicy and keep a little element of mystery alive. Plus you’ll have more to talk about when you’re together and your relationship will be richer.
3. Give each other the gift of Space.
Just because your lives have merged and you live under the same roof doesn’t mean you have to BECOME one – and do everything together, all the time. You don’t have to merge your identity with your partner and be joined at the hip. Instead, it’s much healthier for the longevity of the relationship if you do keep some things separate, and give each other some regular space apart. For instance, you should encourage your partner to have a night out with just the boys or just the girls once a week or a few times a month, and you should do the same. It’s healthy to spend time with your friends solo. You should also set aside some time every week to do things just by yourself, so you can pursue your own interests or hobbies, or even just hang out alone and read a book or watch TV. This space apart gives you time to get back in touch with YOU and maintain that sense of who you are, and your independent time will enable you to continue your own personal growth, which will in turn give you even more to offer the relationship and keep you attractive and fresh in your partner’s eyes. Having time apart is also great because it allows you time to miss each other more and savor your time together rather than taking each other for granted or worse, feeling sick of each other. Heck you have your whole lives to spend with each other; No need to be needy!
4. Keep up the Effort.
Pleeease… Don’t fall into the oh-so-common trap of assuming, “Great! Now that I finally nabbed this man/woman and the deal is sealed, I can finally relax…” (Aka “Let myself go”! ) Then you get real “comfortable” and start slacking little by little on your effort and physical appearance. You may have a baby or three and the 40lbs you gained are still sticking around 5 years later… And then you wonder why your partner starts to get wandering eyes? Well this goes for both men and women – just because the marriage starts does not mean the effort stops.
A partnership is a lifelong effort, and your attraction to each other can fade fast if you don’t put effort into keeping it up. Don’t take attraction for granted. If you start looking totally different then how you looked when your partner first fell in love with you, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that your partner may end up falling out of love with you. Of course your relationship should be much deeper than just physical appearances, but do not refuse to acknowledge that it is an important element, especially for men who in general tend to be more visual. Keep up your physical appearance throughout your marriage rather than use marriage as an excuse to slack off; stay in good shape and continue looking sexy for both your partner and yourself. Because when you’re feeling confident, sexy and good about yourself and your body, then your partner will. Dress up on your date nights and slip into something sexy when you get home. Be your partner’s fantasy and you won’t have to worry about someone else being theirs.
Keep up the effort in the romance department as well. Doing nice little things for each other shouldn’t stop. My 85-year old grandfather still romances my grandmother and surprises her all the time with little gifts, with flowers on occasion, with nice little things and romantic gestures that brighten up her day, and with his humor. Every year on their anniversary he serenades her with the song they danced to at their wedding 60 years ago. She likewise enjoys doing the same kinds of gestures and surprises for him, and this mutual giving keeps the positive energy and attraction flowing between them through the years. But when you stop doing all the little things, when you stop putting effort into the romance, and when you stop putting effort into your attractiveness, you will stop getting that in return – and thus the demise of the relationship. So… Keep it up!
5. Be Open-Minded.
As your marriage goes on you should continue to evolve and grow as individuals and as a partnership. The best way to continue taking your relationship to new heights is by being open-minded and adventurous and trying new things together as much as possible. Explore new fantasies with each other, dabble into new areas, and take on new hobbies and interests together. Take risks together and try things that challenge you and push yourselves outside your normal comfort zones. Be open to your partner’s ideas, fantasies, needs and desires, because believe me over the course of a lifetime together, you’ve got to expect that there’ll be some new ones popping up! But if you’re committed to satisfying each other then you’ll earn yourself an amazingly happy partner and a relationship that’s constantly reaching new heights. On the contrary, rigidity & closed-mindedness are great qualities to have if you’re striving for a short-lived, unsatisfying relationship.
6. Remain Appreciative and don’t take things for granted.
Appreciation is one of the things that people seem to drop the fastest once they’re comfortably settled in a relationship, yet it’s one of the most important things to keep up. If your partner starts to feel unappreciated on a regular basis, they will quickly grow unhappy with the relationship. It’s not that hard to make your partner feel like a Queen or King. Praise them for their accomplishments and the way they make you feel, great “performances” and things they do in bed, and favors they do for you like fixing your tire or doing your laundry. As with everything else, you don’t want your praises to be over-done or contrived, and you can be creative about the way you express your appreciation to them too. A simple and genuine “Thank you” is great, but there are many other ways to express your appreciation for things that your partner does, from a passionate kiss to a gift or a note on their car, and that’s another thing that can add an element of fun to your relationship.
7. Continue setting Inspiring mutual Goals together and for the family.
You’re either growing together or you’re growing apart, period. And the best way to ensure you’re growing together and having a blast along the way is by setting mutual goals with each other as well as for the family that you can work on each year, and celebrate when you achieve. For example, maybe you set a goal that in 1 year, you’ll both be masterful Salsa dancers; in 2 years, you will be able to buy a second home at the beach. Maybe in 3 years, you’ll be able to add on to your house, or in 5 years you’ll get to take the family on a month-long trip to Europe. Design your life and lay out your dreams together; there is no bigger aphrodisiac and bonding experience than the feeling of working for and reaching goals together. It’s a great way to continue deepening your respect for each other and falling back in love with your partner over and over again.
8. Argue Constructively and Communicate.
All couples argue at some point, and arguing is necessary and healthy – as long as it’s constructive and healthy arguing. Sometimes couples have different styles of arguing, and if that’s the case, then you need to identify what your styles are and come up with a healthy strategy to deal with your arguments on the same page. The best way to kill a relationship is to argue in an abusive way that demeans the other person, or by not communicating at all. The “silent treatment” doesn’t achieve anything. Being mature adults means communicating in a calm and rational, loving way that seeks to understand your partner’s point of view and negotiate a resolution. It isn’t a war over who is right and who is wrong; it isn’t a battle to see who can demean or hurt the other person the most, and shouldn’t be a means of manipulation via cold war. Every problem is solved with (healthy) communication.
9. Keep Touching and Kissing frequently, even in front of the kids.
Touching and kissing each other is mandatory in a marriage! This should be kept up even after you’re in wheelchairs. The longer you go without touching and kissing each other and the more space you have in-between, the more disconnected you will feel to your partner. The more frequently you touch and kiss each other the more bonded & connected you will feel, and the more sexual feelings you will have toward him/her. Touching and kissing is a natural and healthy act of relating, and shouldn’t just be kept behind closed doors or “away from the kids” either! In fact it is much healthier for your children to grow up seeing what a loving relationship looks like, and watching their parents being affectionate with each other sets up the perfect model for them to seek out healthy relationships for them in their future. Now making out like the plane is going down in front of your kids might be a tad inappropriate, but letting them see a rated-G version of it is actually good for them.
10. Keep up the Sex.
Don’t let it die or get routine. I don’t need to go into much detail here, and although it should be a no-brainer, I see it all too often to not point out. When the sex dies, the relationship tends to die. Most couple’s love lives go through “ebbs and flows,” But generally speaking if it’s been more than 6 months since you’ve had sex, if you are sleeping in separate rooms, or you feel like you’re more like roommates rather than lovers – then there really is no relationship. Do whatever you can to stay passionate and sexual with each other, and you’ll have yourself the lifelong relationship of your dreams.
11. *Bonus: Keep it FUN!
Avoid getting caught up in all the daily stressors of work, kids, money, mortgages, your life, and so on. Those are all elements that are just a part of life, but wallowing in the stress will only make things worse, especially your marriage. Aim to make your marriage as fun much as possible. If you feel yourselves slipping into a dull rut or you’re finding that you’re starting to bicker a lot, pull yourself out of it by doing something fun together. Take a little vacation, go to Disneyland, go to the movie theater and make out like teenagers, go to the beach and play, whatever you want but constantly bringing the FUN into your relationship will keep positive energy between you two and your family, and will be the key ingredient to longevity.
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Deanna Lorraine is a San Diego Dating Coach