Keeping the love alive with kids in the house ain't always easy, but it's doable. It's also fun. And it's essential. David and I have always prioritized our relationship... the friendship and the romance. Our kids have always known and respected that. They don't live here any more, but seeing them now, with their own partners, proves they learned important things about maintaining a loving relationship from us.
In honor of Valentine's Day, I want to share some of what I've learned about love after 40 years of marriage. Take what makes sense to you. Leave the rest. I hope it helps in whatever ways you need.
1. It's not about who you love, it's about how.
2. If something is getting in the way of you and your sweetie being together, discuss it and make changes.
3. Be totally trustworthy and require the same from your partner.
4. Actively look for ways to ease your partner's mind and tense shoulder muscles.
5. When you're pissed, calm down and listen with an open heart and mind. Listening increases understanding which increases love.
6. Don't cheat... ever.
7. If either of you has created a break in trust, do what makes sense to learn from it and move on... if you can.
8. Be open to and non-judgmental to your partner's vulnerability. Likewise, don't be threatened by strength.
9. From time to time do the dishes, even if it's not your turn.
10. Make food together and enjoy what you've dished up.
11. Look for progress in yourself and in your partner. Not perfection.
12. Light candles.
13. Find at least one thing, outside of the home, that you two enjoy together and do it... regularly.
14. Put down the damn phone, tablet, laptop and cuddle.
15. Bring home an occasional surprise... just because.
16. Anger comes in two varieties: clean ("I'm upset and here's why") and dirty ("You always do this!") Always keep it clean.
17. Give your best self to your partner.
18. Be nice. Save the sarcasm and contempt for... actually, don't save if for anyone.
19. Don't be a pig. Share that last chocolate chip cookie.
20. When your lover wants to talk about something that's important to him/her (but not to you), stop what you're doing and listen with genuine interest.
21. When a hug is given, hug back, no matter how crappy you feel. It'll make you feel better.
22. Show appreciation. Even after years of being together, "Please" and "Thank you" are signs of caring.
23. Unplug when you're with your sweetie and be where you are. This communicates, "You matter to me more than checking FB."
24. Fill up the gas tank when you know your partner needs the car tomorrow.
25. Make eye contact and a smile when s/he walks into the room.
26. Find at least one funny thing to share from your day.
27. When your lover needs encouragement, be front and center, cheering.
28. Let there be togetherness in your chores. It's way more fun when you do it together.
29. When your lover looks great, tell him/her.
30. When s/he is not looking all that awesome, do not say a word!
31. If your lover is under the weather (or on a work deadline) do more than your share around the house with a smile.
32. If you notice your honey's spinach bits between teeth or a booger in his/her nose, speak up. (Discreetly, of course.)
33. Be helpful, without being asked.
34. Say, "I love you" like you really mean it. From time to time, we all need to hear the words.
35. Do not flirt with anyone other than your sweetie. Just don't.
36. If your affections are wandering, use that to make your relationship stronger. Say, "Honey, I need more _____ from you."
37. Share dark chocolate... wrapped or unwrapped. Lots of it. Frequently.
38. Let go of resentment or it will poison everything. Forgiveness is a gift to you, your partner, and the relationship.
39. Be the kind of partner you'd like your partner to be.
40. Show how much you appreciate having him/her in your life. Not just on Valentine's Day, but every day.
What love lessons have you learned?