Remember the old adage: "If she's not happy, he's not happy."
As in all such sayings, there's a kernel of truth in this one. When my son was a young boy, I taught him how to master the art of intimacy. I told him that if he learned this, he would live a happy life.
Because life is all about relationships, the inability to be intimate is the cause of many broken couplings. The irony of intimacy is that it's very easy to learn and is self-fulfilling, because it generates those warm fuzzy feelings associated with happiness.
If men only knew how easy it was to make women happy, they would, because in all things, it is the little things that count.
1. Value your spouse by validating her actions, her ideas, and her opinions. That means to actively listen when she speaks, and to pay attention to not only her ideas, but also what's behind them. Know her history so that you can be sensitive to her reactions to internal and external events.
2. Don't discount or demean. Make eye contact whenever you are engaged in a conversation with her. This is one of the most important lessons of intimacy. Let her know that she can count on you, that you are there for her. And don't roll your eyes or make faces when you don't agree with her ideas, but rather, ask questions if you don't understand or need more clarification.
3. Help with the small chores around the house, like filling the dishwasher after dinner. Believe it or not, this speaks volumes of love to your spouse, and is more important than a store-bought gift. What it says, is that you have invested in her, that you care about her well-being, and you are there to help her.
4. Never speak to your wife on demand with declarative sentences, such as, "You will do so and so." But rather, ask your partner how she feels about whatever it is you have in mind. Asking your wife what she thinks or how she feels about a particular problem, makes her your ally and also makes her want to be on your team. This is how couples solve problems in a good way, together with mutual respect.
5. Mutuality is the key to intimacy and therefore, the key to marital bliss. When your spouse feels that she is a mutual part of your relationship, she will support that relationship wholeheartedly. It is only when she feels "less than" that she will strive in various ways to compensate for the loss of equality.
6. Physical and spontaneous touch gives a very loving message to your mate because it is unexpected. It's those loving embraces -- the squeeze of the shoulder, the kiss on a cheek -- that can carry your partner through the day with a loving glow. In a sense, they are the unintended acts of kindness and love that you're giving to the one you love.
7. Love letters are a central tool for intimacy. A conversation is often lost or stored in the emotional recesses of our memories, but a love letter can be re-read again and again. It should begin with a loving greeting -- maybe a pet name, or the traditional "sweetheart," "darling," "honey," or "dear" -- and it should end with a loving sentiment, such as "I love you." In the body of the letter, you can express your intimate feelings, not only of words difficult to express, but also sentiments. Be descriptive. Use your senses in describing for your mate how you feel, so that she can ride that wave of emotion with you.
Love letters can also be used when problems arise, including arguments. Once again, they should begin with an endearment and end with a loving sentiment. In the body of your letter, you should always express how you feel about the particular problem, using descriptive words to enhance her experience of your feelings.
8. Find time to be together. It can be for a walk after dinner, a movie, a bath, a date night, or a trip. It doesn't have to be a financial expenditure, but it does have to give you a chance to connect without distractions, to remember what it is to be together, not only sharing your thoughts and feelings, but also your moments and experiences.
9. When experiencing a social evening out with others, remember to have eyes only for her. Don't look around the room, don't stare at other women, and don't go on your cell phone. And by the way, a sincere and authentic compliment can start the evening out on the exact right foot. Never be possessive or controlling. Share decisions and choices about where to go, what to do, and who to see. That includes an evening out, the choice of a movie or a restaurant, and visits to parents and grandparents.
10. Finally, never hold a grudge. That old adage "don't go to sleep angry" can really work in building intimacy. That doesn't mean that you're a Pollyanna, but it does mean that if your feelings are hurt and your emotions are bruised, you express those feelings... and then let them go. If there's a second injury, then it's time to use my empathic process, so that together, without defense, you can come to the root of the problem, which is usually generating the hurtful behavior of your spouse. Then together, you can decide how to keep it from happening again.
Stay tuned... in my next blog post, I will share 10 Ways to Make Him Happy.