Tag Romance

Spicing up the Romance

alienation, long termLet’s face it, having kids is a romance crusher. Time for romance shrinks dramatically. Then, when you do MAKE the time, one or both of you is often physically, cognitively, emotionally or existentially exhausted. However, if you give in to that, and don’t think of your relationship as something that requires ongoing and consistent discipline, your odds go up that you’ll be turning your coin over to a divorce attorney. Here are 30 ideas designed to create a good feeling between you (I’ll end with some caveats):

Initiatives for the person with traditional masculine interests

• Get tickets to a sporting event

• Arrange to go bowling

• Go to some sort of racing event

• Take a trip to a casino

• Go target shooting (hey, it’s the road less traveled!)

• Go fishing (yes, you can wear latex gloves if you must)happy latino couple

• Take golf lessons together

• Give him a foot rub (no, you cannot wear latex gloves)

• Learn how to make beer or wine together

• Go to a car or aviation show

Initiatives for the person with traditional feminine interests

• Write her a poem regarding either your love for her or great things about her (no, it doesn’t have to rhyme sparky)

• Take her to get her nails done

• Do her toe nails for her (be nice and slow and meticulous)

• Take a trip to the closest outlet mall to buy her something nice (only positive comments and no fretting allowed)

• Brush her hair for an hour

• Set her up in with a luxury bath while you take care of your smelly progeny–finger food, sweet aromas and gentle music are all pluses

marriage in progress• Take her to get her makeup done, letting her know that she never needs such things when it comes to you

• Arrange to go dancing and then, as Souza suggested, do so like no one is watching

• Arrange to chauffeur her and her friends for a girls night out (man, you’ll learn all kinds of stuff!)

• Hand carry her flowers to her work


• Set up a picnic in the park

• Go to wineries for tastings

• Offer an hour massage

• Write and deliver a gratitude letter

• Take a regular walk around your neighborhood

• Make his/her favorite meal and serve it in a part of your residence where you wouldn’t normally share a meal. (it’s amazing how intimate a card table, a simple table cloth and a candle can make any part of any residence…as long as you medicate the children first, or turn them over to some other humans for the night…I’m kidding about the medicating your children part…or am I??)

• Go to a comedy club

• Get a babysitter and do an overnight to a nice hotel, prepping the room first yes i can(e.g., flowers, chocolates, champagne)

• Go horseback riding (what great pictures you can get!)

• Play a round of tennis or some other racquet sport

A few caveats:

• Don’t do anything nice with an expectation for a return or a certain reaction. If you do, the nice gesture could make things worse. Think of this as something good you are doing for it’s own sake, regardless of how your spouse may respond. This REALLY takes discipline and practice.

• Never act like you’re sacrificing yourself for your partner’s sake.

• Don’t act like this is a quid pro quo scenario. For instance, if you’re the one who tends to pursue sex, don’t do so after doing one of these gestures.

• Stay away from any gestures that get you into sensitive areas with your partner (e.g., you’ve complained that your partner never gives you a massage and then you offer one).

• Set a weekly date night. Lots of times you won’t feel like it or be tired. DO IT ANYWAY, most of the time that is. Anything that we do only when we feel like it, or only after life’s obligations have been met, will be half baked.

marriage counseling• If these sorts of interventions seem to worsen things and/or your relationship has gotten toxic, please seek out the services of a qualified relationship counselor. For a referral, click here.

Good luck. And remember this is hard for everyone. After all, at the point in human history when some yuck-a-buck came up with the concept of “till death do you part” people tended to die when they were in their early 30s! 😉

What To Do When a Crush Dumps Your Teen

We engaged parents feel like we can be no happier than our least happy child. When our kids hurt, it seems like we hurt worse. Our love is a crazy, over-the-top kind of love that makes us lunatics sometimes. While there are probably important evolutionary benefits to our experiencing love to this degree (i.e., upon reflection of the reality in which we find ourselves as a parent, we might otherwise leave our kids at the hospital ;-), there are also disadvantages, unless we are careful. One such situation is when our kids are hurting. Because of the depth of our love we sometimes try to rush in and make the pain go away in ways that either deprive our kids of important outcomes or damage our relationship with them (e.g., see my entry Failure: An Important Part of a Psychologically Healthy Childhood). This entry is designed to help you to avoid both of the latter when your teenager gets dumped by a significant other.

Tip #1: Limit your first response to listening with empathy. This is the hardest part, listening without trying to make your teen’s pain go away. To be subject to a one-way dumping hurts a lot, especially if it is unexpected, the attachment was a strong one or the relationship was your teen’s first significant romance. As you hear the story you can make empathic comments: “That’s terrible.” “You must feel like your guts are being ripped out.” “I’m so sorry that she is being so unfair.” “It must really hurt that he cheated on you.” Being empathically present as your teen cries and laments, without trying to make the pain go away, is a major gift. It may not feel like it at the time, but it is. (This is often confirmed later by your teen’s expressions of gratitude or by him or her opening up to more to you.)

Tip #2: Try to help your teen get clarity about what he or she wants to do but avoid sounding like your trying to get him or her to do this or that, with one exception. Of course, you will have opinions about best next steps. But, you want your teen to learn to thinks these things through for himself or herself now, when under your care and the stakes are lower (though important), than later, when living on his or her own and the stakes are higher (e.g., should I marry this person?). Maybe the relationship is salvageable, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s best to make a closing statement to the other person, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s best to seek out an explanation from the other person, maybe it isn’t. You can serve as a sounding board, exploring pros and cons of each choice–including pointing out risks and benefits that your teen might be missing–until clarity descends. The only time it’s usually advisable to give firm but kind directives would be in situations when your teen wants to do something that could be dangerous (e.g., going to the other person’s house at 1 AM in the morning), psychologically damaging (e.g., arranging to declare love over the loudspeaker at school) or unduly expensive (e.g., purchasing an expensive piece of jewelry). Otherwise, it’s usually best to encourage your teen to make his or her own call, even when you might wish for a different choice; in the latter scenarios I’d even say something like “Brandon, that probably would not be the way I’d do it in your shoes, but I think it’s more important that you do the thing that you think is best because you’ll be the one experiencing the consequences. Plus, who knows, I’m just an old fart and you could be right.”

Tip #3: Educate, but only once your teen’s thoughts and feelings have been vetted. Let your teen know that it may take a while to get fully over the pain (e.g., going through the holidays and changes in the seasons will bring up painful memories of closeness with the other person) and that this is okay, it is to be expected and it will pass with time. This is a wonderful time to share your stories along these lines. (Crisis = pain + opportunity. The pain you experienced from being dumped can now be an opportunity in your relationship with your teen.)

Tip #4: Help your teen to focus on maintaining good regiments for diet, sleep and physical activity. Getting dumped can cause the behaviors that support these foundations of your teen’s wellness to go into the tank. So, cheerfully supporting each of these can be very helpful. (See other blog entries for tips on maintaining each of these.)

Tip #5: Encourage pleasurable activities. Such a loss is like being in a sea of pain. Experiences of pleasure, even if muted, can be like a raft while on that sea. Try not to show frustration if your teen rejects many of your offerings but keep them coming at a pace that works for your relationship (i.e., not too often, not too infrequently but just right).

Tip #6: Encourage safe social contact. Your teen may feel like he or she is in an abyss. While that sucks it’s a better to be in the abyss with company than alone. But, the company needs to be patient, understanding and disinclined to be scornful of melancholy. Initially this contact may be best accomplished with family and close, mature friends.

Tip #7: Seek our professional help if your teen is experiencing significant impairment accomplishing primary responsibilities (e.g., academic work), is showing a serious symptom (e.g., wishing God would strike her dead), or has mild to moderate symptoms that aren’t getting better after a couple of weeks (e.g., insomnia). If you’re in doubt, go. And, don’t wait for your teen to agree. (I tell parents “it’s your job to get him into my office. It’s my job to deal with him not wanting to be there.”) For a referral, click here.

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