Issue #9 |Feb 2009


Today’s Topic: Creating Ongoing Romance

When you are in the romantic love stage, you can rely on traditional gifts like roses and candy. But after you’ve been living together for a number of years, your gestures of love have to reflect a more intimate knowledge of each other.

-Patricia Love

Valentine’s Day reflections

I approach Valentine’s Day with a certain amount of ambivalence. As much as I like the idea of a day that celebrates relationships, I also find myself resisting what feels like “romance-on-demand” pressure.

As someone who has been partnered for many years, I sometimes feel at a loss when it comes to celebrating this special day. The flowers-and-chocolate version of romance promoted in advertising seems more suited to “new” romances –- not my twenty-something year old marriage.

So I’ve been pondering the whole notion of romance and what keeps it alive. After consulting some of my favourite books on relationship, I’d like to share some ideas and suggestions for creating ongoing romance. I hope you find them helpful.

1) Don’t confuse the “Romantic Stage” of your relationship with that of ongoing Romance.

Most of us fondly remember the early “Romantic Stage” of our relationship, when life was euphoric and our partners seemed perfectly suited to us. While we may not have been aware of it, we had help with our romantic feelings. Our bodies were being flooded with the “love drug” PEA (phenylethylamine), which produces a natural high, where everything feels wonderful. During this stage of relationship, we didn’t really “work at” romance. It just seemed to happen.

However sometime between three and six months, couples usually experience a change. The euphoric feelings begin to wear off and a couple finds themselves living in the real world again -- in relationship with an imperfect partner, who has habits which annoy and who fails to anticipate our every need. At this point, if we stick around, the real work of relationship and creating ongoing romance begins.

2) Commit to making a conscious effort to foster romance.

The emotional and physical bonding that occurs during the Romantic Stage of relationship lays a strong foundation of attachment. It is this foundation which provides the bonding and motivation for a couple to move on to the work of forging a life together.

In her book entitled Hot Monogamy, marital therapist Patricia Love defines romance as “the way that you demonstrate your love and respect for your partner on an ongoing basis.” Romance is all about the words and actions you use to let your partner know just how important they are to you. These words and actions don’t JUST HAPPEN. It requires initiative on our part.

3) Find out how your partner likes to be loved, and do that.

We tend to express love to others in the way that we would like to receive love ourselves. If being taken out for dinner at an elegant restaurant spells romance for me, I may assume that my partner feels the same way. I may assume that he’d prefer an elegant dinner out, when he would actually feel most loved by receiving a home-cooked meal in his sweats.

In As Gary Chapman says in his book, The Five Love Languages, “Truly connecting with a loved one comes down to one simple fact: You need to know and speak his or her love language.” Take the time to learn HOW your partner likes to receive love. Stretch yourself to give them love in a way that they can “hear”.

4) Inject some excitement and adventure into your relationship.

If things have become just a little too routine and predictable, it may be time to step out of your habits and try something new and different. This might take the form of a trip to somewhere new and exciting, taking up a new hobby or activity together (dancing anyone?) or simply breaking free of your usual routines by doing something slightly outrageous or uncharacteristic.

Use your imagination. Trade sides in bed. Be a tourist in your home town. Do something unexpected to surprise your partner. When you set an intention to have more adventure, the most mundane of activities can be transformed!

5) Revive your ability to play and flirt.
When Patricia Love interviewed middle-aged men about what romance meant to them, they all agreed that playfulness was a key ingredient. Lightening up and having fun together can put you back in touch with the playful romance of the early days of your relationship.

When you play with your partner, you remember who you are to each other – beyond your roles as parents or workers or responsible adults. Rediscovering each other as playmates can be a great enhancer of your sex life too!

6) Appreciate your partner’s romantic gestures.

If you want more romance in your relationship, it’s important to encourage and appreciate the romantic attempts your partner is already making. Acknowledge them with a word, a smile, a touch. Don’t miss what is offered by looking for perfection.

If you ignore the attempts your partner is currently making to express their caring, then they are unlikely to feel encouraged to do more. Appreciation has a contagious quality to it. A word of appreciation can start a chain reaction of the most positive kind.

Invitation to action
Be kind to yourself and your partner this Valentine’s Day. No matter how you choose to mark the day, decide in advance that your gestures of love will be “good enough”. Give up expecting “perfection” – from yourself AND your partner. Instead, I invite you to appreciate the real, unique, human beings that you are – and this precious relationship that you are crafting together.
Shirley’s Booklist:

Hot Monogamy by Patricia Love and Jo Robinson
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Conscious Dating by David Steele
How To Make Love All The Time by Barbara De Angelis

Shirley’s Update:

I was recently interviewed for an article in Canadian Health Magazine. If you’d like to read about Eight Simple Rules for maintaining a good love relationship, check it out at: http://www.canadian-health.ca/2_6/16_e.pdf

 

Shirley Vollett, Life and Relationship Coach, delights in working with pro-active individuals who want to make positive changes in their lives, their work/business or their relationships. Her clients appreciate her ability to listen deeply, her compassionate wisdom and her support in moving forward. Shirley offers a complimentary intro session for those who want to explore how coaching works and how it can help. Click on a link below to contact Shirley or visit her website at http://shirley.vollett.com
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Copyright © 2009 by Shirley Vollett. All rights reserved.