You might look at celebrities and long-distance partners and wonder how they do it, but maybe you could just as viably wonder how you do it. That is, if you were objective.
If you were a therapist on the wall in your kitchen, living room and bedroom, what in the world would you be thinking?
You’ve seen the ongoing analysis of famous couples walking down the sidewalk. How he holds her hand, how she holds her purse, everything means something. And nobody’s in a better position than you are to know what your behavior means.
How often do you actually walk down the sidewalk together? How often are you in the same room together? How often do you look into each other’s eyes? Touch each other? Compliment each other? Nag each other?
If your initial observations (as an objective party on the wall) raise concern, start making changes — simple changes that seem like no-brainers from a distance.
Schedule dinner at the same time every night. It doesn’t matter how often you actually eat at 7, what matters is that you have a date — to keep or reschedule! He can call and say, “Let’s hold off until 8, I’ll order Chinese and pick it up on the way home.”
Schedule a time to go to bed … and make it at least 30 minutes before you think you’ll want to go to sleep. Leave yourselves time to make love or trade a 10-minute massage. How many times have you not asked for a foot rub because you were too spent to reciprocate? Don’t wait until you’re too tired.
Take a bath together every Sunday … while you sip homemade lemonade.
There are things you have to do … and you can do them together. You can make them traditions to look forward to. Kiss before dinner. Undress each other before you go to bed. Tie each other’s sneakers, or help each other stretch before you work out. Squeeze the lemons together before you take a bath!
If you don’t spend time together by doing together what you have to do anyway, you might find yourselves crossing paths in the hallway — or the garage. You can make time to be present with each other by working it into your routine … and that just might inspire spontaneous fun and getaways.
When you walk into a restaurant, hold hands. When you wake up, say good morning. When you say goodbye, kiss. If you both listen to the news, listen to it at the same time. If you both read, do it on the same sofa. Some of what you’d do on a getaway, you can do every day.
In doing so, you create more opportunities to bond and grow in the same direction. Compatibility and intimacy aren’t set in stone. You can nurture them.
A big part of that is accepting each other as you are. You can’t feel like you’re on the same team while you’re picking each other apart. On the other hand, if you work together in the kitchen, the gym or the yard, you can learn to appreciate how your differences strengthen the partnership.
Even if you’re at odds with each other right now, spending time together with good intentions can help you start fresh. Don’t underestimate what a little effort can do to raise your level of satisfaction with your relationship … or what a lack of effort can do to lower it.
And don’t stop spending time on the wall as a therapist. You’ll begin to like what you see — a lot. Therapy works because you commit to meeting regularly with an objective party!