As you may have figured out from reading my books, I’m very interested in relationships, especially relationships that need to be healed.
My interest probably comes from having been a family counselor in my past life and being married for many years. Or perhaps I was a family counselor and am long-married because I am interested in relationships. Who knows which came first? Both of these roles have been fulfilling, but not easy. I’m not sure which is more difficult, to help others patch up their relationships or to work through the problems of my own.
Fortunately I’m married to a great guy and over the years we’ve learned how to make love last. In my books, I draw on these past experiences to try and help others to deal creatively with the obstacles that keep couples from being happy and satisfied. And I’m always looking for resources to help me do that.
One of my favorites, as I’ve shared before, is Eric Barker who writes a blog that often deals with relationships. In his latest, How To Make Love Last: Backed By Research, he offers some advice that I wish all young — and not so young — couples would read.
One of the traps many couples fall into is that they believe for some reason that they can read each others minds. Really? The problem is that people use this super power to read only what they perceive as dark thoughts. If she’s quiet, she must be angry. If he doesn’t take out the trash, he must be upset. Perhaps you remember doing this at some distant time in your relationship — like perhaps yesterday.
Another trap? The unspoken rules couples live by. The other person never learns what these rules are until he or she disobeys one and up pops the anger. Even the person who has laid down the unspoken rules may not be aware of them until the tripwire is activated.
The assumption is that the other person “should” know what these rules are. But”shoulding” on someone you live is dangerous and messy since it judges the other person for something he or she isn’t even aware of.
To escape these traps we first need to be aware of the “shoulds” when they pop up — just follow the anger — and turn the fire hose of mindfulness on them.
Secondly, forget about mind-reading and let the other person know what you need as clearly and non-judgmentally as possible. What a concept, right? And check out what the other person needs by simply asking them, “What do you need from me?” Not so hard, is it? Unless you’re afraid of the answer. That’s worth considering.
Lastly, instead of assuming the worst, assume the best. You may be surprised that your accuracy rate will be much higher. Act out of love instead of fear, because what you want is a loving relationship and not a fearful one. And if you are afraid? It’s time to get help.
Wouldn’t it be great to always assume that people are plotting to make us happy?
I believe that making love last should be our top priority, and these tips don’t just work in our marriages but in all of our relationships. Give them a try and see what happens. I think you’ll like the result.
Thanks to Proman (that great guy mentioned above) for finding this Eric Barker article and sharing it.