Now that I’m at the 10 year mark of my marriage, I’ve had to readjust my views on what makes a relationship thrive.
I’ve come to think of a relationship as a plant on the windowsill, always there but sometimes neglected. It may survive a week’s vacation without being watered; it may need to be pruned or put near sunlight to grow, but, in the end, it needs love and care to survive.
The plant on the windowsill, aka your relationship, may be one day away from dying or one day away from blooming. It all depends on the attention given on a daily basis. That being said…
Water your plant every day.
Plan time alone together every day. According to Dr. William F. Harley, author of His Needs Her Needs, couples must spend 15 hours a week devoted to their relationship. That’s two hours every day—Monday through Friday—and one date night during the weekend. Here’s a shocker—if a couple is struggling through a difficult situation, the couple must spend thirty hours a week together to get back on track. That is a lot of time, but Harley insists that the gift of time is what makes or breaks a relationship. If a couple is apart for travel or for work, set up a phone date or a FaceTime call.
There are many creative ways to connect from afar.
Touch the soil. Imagine if you wait until the weekend to touch the soil of that plant on the windowsill. The soil is going to be very dry. The soil is meant to be touched every day. Even if it is just to see what it needs: more water or more sun.
This means some type of physical contact every day.
The power of touch can be transformative. A hug, without expectation for anything else, calms the soul. A kiss sends endorphins to the brain. Making love is medicine that heals many wounds.
Watch the transformation take place. Deep looking, according to Thich Nhat Hanh, allows partners to bond. Deep looking also promotes deep understanding. When a couple understands deeply, they love. Deep looking often makes us uncomfortable. It makes us vulnerable, but when we are vulnerable, we are able to show parts of ourselves that no one else sees—except our partners. It may take practice but schedule time to look deeply into each other’s eyes without any pressure of a certain outcome. This is a practice of seeing, openness and honestly.
Lock the greenhouse (as in, lock the bedroom door). No interruptions. No exceptions. There may be a period in a relationship devoted to caring for children which may include night nursing or co-sleeping, but this should be a phase and not the norm. An interrupted night of rest can interfere with cuddling and bonding and in turn can create tension.
Love your kids all day and your partner all night.
Help each other grow. Both must grow in a relationship and it is important to be mindful and respectful of the pace and space each person needs to grow. One cannot be catapulted forward emotionally, spiritually, personally, professionally and leave the other behind. Be honest with your wants, needs, desires and goals. Do not hide. Acknowledge where compromise is needed. Guide and encourage each other’s growth process. That is the way to keep the relationship alive and budding.
Author: Ashley Martinez
Apprentice Editor: Lois Person / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Flickr/QThomas Bower