Most of us carry our own personal entertainment screen around with us — our favorite people, music, reading material, and games. If somebody keeps us waiting, or just bores us, we can escape. Among other things, this promotes zero tolerance for boredom. Ironically it also promotes boredom … because our needs for stimulation are not really met by the little screen. And our needs for intimacy and companionship may be getting buried altogether.
So if you’re bored in your relationship, don’t blame your partner; and don’t jump to the conclusion that you are boring. You’re not boring; you’re merely absent. To know how entertaining you are, you have to show up.
Do it before you grow more complacent or distant from each other. When there’s a moment of silence, choose to be present with your sweetheart — instead of moving on. When there’s a moment of tension, explore and understand what you’re feeling — instead of escaping to a screen, ice cream, or whatever else you keep on hand.
With the upcoming holidays, you want to be warm and inviting as a couple. But warmth doesn’t ingratiate us on holidays, unless we invoke it on other days. The holidays are an exaggerated version of daily life. If your life is loving, the love is underscored. If it’s empty, the emptiness is underscored.
Don’t wait for a holiday or a crowd to entertain. Entertain each other — or love each other, as the case may be — now.
Take time to routinely nurture what you want as part of your next holiday. If you want your sweetheart to demonstrate gratitude, count your blessings today, and do it out loud. If you want meaningful conversation, leave a voicemail to set the stage now. If you want to make the perfect meal, get some experience tonight. If you want a circle of friends to entertain with your sweetheart, start connecting with them today.
We get out what we put in. The holidays are no exception. Yet we set our expectations higher for the holidays — as though they can somehow yield something we have not sown. They can’t.
Oh, you can pull out the china easily enough; but if you haven’t been using the everyday dishes, dinner will seem more ritualistic than genuine. You can print a guest list; but don’t expect acquaintances to magically appear as friends. And you and your partner can wear coordinated outfits; but they won’t get your hearts in synch.
You can’t get from where you are today to where you want to be for the holidays in one giant leap. You have to move in that direction day by day, moment by moment. You have to start with each other, and learn to choose each other over the escapes vying for your attention.
Be present with each other for sixty seconds at a time. Entertain each other with your eyes, your fingers, your lips, your concerns and fears, your dreams, and your stories.
To get what you want, you have to be willing to let go of what you don’t want. If you want a more engaging relationship, you have to give up what constitutes the “boring” one. Using our example, you have to stop escaping the pain when he’s preoccupied with the screen in front of him, and talk about it, instead. You have to do what you would do if you were in a more satisfying relationship.
You don’t have to do it all at once. You can’t. You can do it one step at a time, starting right now. And if you do, you just might grow into entertaining each other daily … and loving every minute of it.