Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dating Your Wife or Husband

I’m amused when I ask couples if they date and they look at me and say, “You mean each other?”

Of course I mean do they date each other, but the term dating throws them. Dating seems like something single couples do.

Which leads me to the purpose of dating. Dating serves several purposes including:

  • an opportunity for a mutually enjoyable time together
  • an opportunity to make your partner feel special
  • an opportunity to create passion
  • an opportunity to connect as friends
  • an opportunity to say, “I want to be with you today and tomorrow”

I could go on, but hopefully you get the point, that dating applies equally to married couples. Yet, when I interview couples who have lost connection, one thing I notice is their tendency to neglect their dating life. By neglect I mean that they either do not date at all or they fall into the rut of having the same date over and over – typically a movie or dinner (or both).

What Makes a Good Date?

A good date feels special. Women often complain that their husbands only go on a date if they make all of the arrangements. Then the husband goes along but his attitude shows no enthusiasm for the date. To make the date feel special, each partner must participate in planning and arranging for making the night (or weekend) special.

A good date takes into account each’s preferred activities. Some folks like to be active and others are looking for something restful. Some folks like to learn something while others want to be entertained through escaping the reality of everyday life. Some are outgoing and like to be with groups while others want time to spend just with their partner. Look for dates that speak to each of you or alternate activities to show sensitivity to each of your preferences.

Remember when you first started dating and how you actually thought about the impression you were making on each other. You wanted to make a good impression so that your partner would know that you were interested in him or her. A good date makes a good impression. Women show delight in the time spent together and men make an effort to treat the woman as someone who is interesting and valuable in his life.

Inevitably when I ask a woman what makes a good date, she will say she wants a time for connection, but the man tends to focus on what she wants to do. The woman needs emotional connection, which translates into her sharing her views, feelings and desires while her partner shows interest and demonstrates that her views, feelings and desires are important.

Men have a more difficult time sharing what they want from a date. Physical and sexual closeness often is a desire, but when prompted, most men will admit that they want their partner to show she is delighted with the time together. It might sound corny but men enjoy it when the woman is excited with the date.

I hope that this prompts you to think about how you can be a better date because dating is one important thing you can do to maintain your connection with your partner.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does True Love Last?

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If I questioned everyone who is marrying today whether they feel emotionally, physically and sexually connected they would say, “Sure.” If I went further and asked them if they expected to remain connected over the next thirty years, the vast majority would say, “Yes!”

These couples believe that their connection will last because they have found the love of their life, their soul mate, the person that God has sent them…their one true love. While the sentiment is sweet, the logic of this optimism is lacking.

The truth is that a couple marrying today is very, very unlikely to maintain an emotional, physical and sexual connection over the next thirty years. First, they have nearly a 50% chance of divorcing – a sure sign of disconnection.

But among those who would remain married for the long haul, many will stay married only for the sake of their children’s well-being, financial entrapment, religious commitment or simply because the marriage they have is less frightening than the prospect of becoming divorced—even as they are have lost their emotional, physical and sexual connection.

The evidence is overwhelming that the connection we have at marriage is extremely fragile, yet we treat it as though it is lasting. For instance, after couples get married, we know that their behavior changes, generally giving less to the relationship. Husbands and wives nurture the relationship less, spend less time “courting” and more time arguing about how their expectations are unmet in the marriage.

Love can last, but the key is not finding your “one true love.” The key to a long-lasting relationship is commitment. My initial blog post described elements of a commitment. Underlying this commitment is the understanding that our connection is fragile and we must make an effort every day to nurture that connection or join the majority who have lost theirs.