“It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.”
APPRECIATION IS THE BEST FOREPLAY
“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller
I’ve loved Meg for more than 30 years now, but I’ve not always been a great appreciator of her. In fact, for many years, I took her for granted. She was a pleasant, welcome and steady part of my life for more days than I can count, but so was our house, the kids and the dog. I expected her to be there every day when I came home from work, and she was. I sold us both short by not actively enjoying being with her.
In recent years, I’ve learned to fully appreciate her. For me, appreciation begins with deeply noticing: really focusing and drinking in some particular aspect of her being: the way her earrings match her eyes; the warmth of her body; or the smell of her hair. When I actively notice, I become more alert to her being. I’m tuned in and turned on.
Then I tell her how much I appreciate her. I offer more than a lazy “You look nice today.” Instead I get very specific about what I am noticing, and how I feel. High quality appreciation is specific, to the point, and measurable — whether it’s in the office or in the bedroom. And, it’s one of the three things we discovered was lacking in our relationship when we took a good look at it.
For years, I have also brought her coffee or tea in bed every morning. She tells me that simple move created connection even in the times when we’ve felt distant.
“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. That’s what I hope to give you forever.” — The Notebook
My wife is a super capable and strong woman — she raised three kids by herself for long periods while I was wrapped up in my career. And, she still loves it when I take the wheel, whether that’s cooking dinner or planning the vacation or cleaning the basement. One of the best turn-on lines I know is: “I’ve got this handled” — and then following through.
Taking responsibility means looking at what I can do to create the situation I want — whether that’s a clean kitchen, higher income or great sex — and then taking action. It means dropping complaints and picking up the slack. It means looking for what’s needed at any moment and then supplying it.
THE TRUTH WILL TURN YOU ON
“You know when you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” — Dr. Seuss
One thing that is guaranteed to create distance between people — whether at work or in the boudoir — is keeping a secret. People just know when we are holding something back and it kills trust. And if you’re really going all the way with someone at work or in bed, you’ve got to trust them.
My favorite way to think of intimacy is with the mnemonic “into-me-see.” The more I allowed Meg to see into me, the closer we became, and the more energetic our connection grew.
I started small, like letting her know I actually hated broccoli (a frequent dinner staple) and then admitting to some poor spending decisions. I eased into the bigger things that I was truly afraid to reveal for fear they would tear us apart. They didn’t, and in most cases Meg had already figured out the secrets anyway. Revealing those secrets was like splitting the atom: it released huge amounts of energy that had gone into concealing and put it to use for loving.
“And remember, as it was written, to love another person is to see the face of God.” — Les Miserables
“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables