From my friend and classmate Julie Reynold’s Mindfulness Practices Blog:
I recently received an email asking me to forward a flyer to my students about a workshop entitled “How to be in love.” I quipped in a Facebook status that I was sure my friends could come up with some mighty funny tips for such a workshop. And they did…but they also surprised me by sharing incredible insights. Here are some of those tips offered by this generous group of people. I, for the most part, have simply organized them into the categories that naturally emerged.
1. Fall in Love.
There’s something pretty magical/chemical/instinctual about falling in love. Falling in love (or out of love, for that matter) is typically a lot more exciting than being in love. But perhaps that is part of the problem…. One friend writes: “I’ve fallen in love with a small number of people, but that number is greater than one, and each of those was a “I just knew it” kind of fall. I’ve been able to stay in love with just one of those people, though, and that’s taken 20 years of daily work. Ninety-five percent of that has been mighty enjoyable, but it’s still work nonetheless.”
2. Be grateful for each other.
You have to tend to your fire if you don’t want it to burn out, so don’t take each other for granted. Be happy to see the other person (at least as happy as you are to see the kids or the dogs). Tell the other person every day three positive things about himself or herself. Tell the other person every day how fond you are. Tell someone else something sweet and wonderful about that person every day. Plan or think a little every day on the next bit of quality time with that person, the next date, the next vacation, the next shared meal, etc. Thank God, or blind luck, or whatever every day for that person’s presence in your life.
3. Show your love.
Kiss hello and goodbye. Hug and kiss every day. Remember your sweetie was someone’s sweet itty bitty adorable little baby once and deserves to be loved and snuggled. Spoon at night. Laugh together often. Forgive, always.
4. Respect each other.
Never stop being polite to each other. Just because something is not important to you does not mean that it is not important.
5. Communicate honestly and freely.
Do what you say you’re going to do. Learn how to disagree maturely. Don’t say everything that occurs to you. One friend writes: “Create/establish a “safety zone” with each other, in which each person can let down his/her guard, be completely him/herself, stumble, cry, boast, cheer, etc. and BE exactly who they are without fear of rejection or ridicule. If you break the safety zone, apologize as soon as possible and get back in it.”
6. Don’t keep score.
There absolutely cannot be accounting, or this for that, or keeping score, of anything. Both have to be completely willing to do all the giving. At various points, things will even out, but even if it doesn’t, that’s not the point. Dividing up the workload (either literally, as in housework, or the emotional work of maintaining the relationship) 50/50 is a complete myth. Both parties should bring 100% to the relationship.
7. Work on the relationship.
Love is an action, not a feeling. It is an active verb. It is a stance and behaviors. One friend writes: “I believe in “going to work every day” where love is concerned. I think at least some [relationships] fail because the people thought that love is a feeling that happens *to* them & also expect this *love* to do the work *for* them. It’s work. And you do it. Every day.”
8. Spoil each other.
Part of the “work” of love is knowing what feels like “being spoiled” to the other person and being willing to do that. Never get stagnate in your relationship. Surprise each other. There always needs to be a little “something, something” that he/she is not expecting. Here are some thoughts from a few friends:
- My partner brings me two or three cups of coffee every morning while I drag myself out of bed. It’s unbelievably sweet, and totally unnecessary and I love her like crazy for it. I cook for her and make her pre-packaged lunches with the leftovers. And so on and so forth. Lots of spoiling going on.
- Spoiling your partner becomes a virtuous circle that reinforces and amplifies itself, and then a way of life.
- I’ve always been a fan of ‘little loving acts.’ -something as simple as fixing a sandwich for them when they weren’t expecting it. I have a much easier time giving and receiving them than I do the grand gestures. Grand gestures usually feel like play-acting to me. But a little loving act just sends the message of ‘I like you. You’re neat.’
9. Recognize that you are two unique individuals.
Don’t expect your loved one to be your “everything” – learn how to be happy on your own. Have some separate interests. Spend time with friends, together and apart. Take care of yourself so you can be fully present to be with someone else. Bring out the best in each other. Have separate bathrooms and always shut the bathroom door. TMI does not promote a lovin’ feeling! LOL!
10. Always have chocolate around.
Seriously. I’m not joking.