Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Life Fit with Laura Lewis: Making love last

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Being Life Fit is about your total health, including the health of all of your relationships. Life Fit is a journey, not a destination. It is a process of continuous growth: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Check in each Tuesday to Life Fit with Laura Lewis, author of "52 Ways To A Healthy You," as we explore our total life fitness. Then, weigh in with your own thoughts over at Laura's "Life Fit Chat" each Wednesday and Thursday for further discussion on the week's topic. For more information visit Laura at www.LauraLewis.com.

The holidays are such a romantic time of year ... well, actually just about all of autumn and winter are. From late November through December, we celebrate our gratitude and shower our loved ones with gifts. We take time from work to be together and to enjoy the season's romantic parties. The cold weather makes cuddling in front of the fire place, and in bed, so very cozy. Then New Year's Eve rolls around and it is more kissing at midnight and making new year wishes. And then before you know it, there it is ... Valentine's Day ... the grand-daddy of romantic holidays.

So, come spring, if you find yourself wanting to move in with your honey and begin a little nesting, keep the following tips in mind.

  1. Pay attention to the elephant in the room. Research suggests that friction in a couple's marriage can become obvious to others within only a few minutes of interacting with the unhappy couple. Yet, interestingly, there is a tendency for people to ignore their own big elephants. Psychologist John Gottman encourages couples to pay close attention to what he calls the Four Horsemen of relationship apocalypse: withdrawal, criticism, defensiveness, and contempt. Look closely at you relationship, and if you find that any of these four "horsemen" have a home in your relationship with your honey ... keep the extra address.
  2. Assumptions make for unstable bedfellows. We all have particular assumptions about the way something should be done. For example, I am maniacal about pulling the shower curtain closed after exiting the shower. I mean ... come on ... doesn't everyone do that? Well, I have found the answer to that question is a definite no! So, when you and your sweetie find yourself in angst over particular assumptions you have each made about what is the "normal" thing to do, discuss at least four options for resolving the mistaken assumption: my way, your way, our way, or both ways and then decide on something that you both can live with.
  3. Decide who wears what pants and when. Society has thankfully moved away from typical gender roles. However, you may be surprised at some of the gender role expectations you unknowingly harbor. So, for example, I am not so crazy about cooking and cleaning ... something that has stereotypically fallen on the girlie to-do list. Fortunately, my sweetie loves to do both. And fortunately, he also loves to do yard work (Boy, I lucked out!). But, I don't mind grocery shopping, nor do I mind bookkeeping. Before co-habitating, it is essential to break down the gender barriers and "get real" (as Dr. Phil would say) about what you are and are not willing to happily do, and of course, when and where you are willing to embrace compromise.
  4. Focus on the reason and not the symptoms. While it may seem impossible to imagine you and your honey ever having a disagreement, the very act of moving in together will squash that illusion rather quickly. So, when you disagree, which you will inevitably do, focus on what the real issue is and not the immediate symptom of the issue.
  5. Remember the life you had prior to your new romantic nest. All romantic relationships require the support and guidance of the community of friends and family that you relied on prior to moving in with your honey. All too often, couples get so focused on one another that they do not allow room for anyone else in their lives. This may be all fine and good for a while, but eventually you will experience a sorrow in which you need support or a joy you want to share. Keep your life outside of domesticity alive and well, for you and for those you care about.
And then ... live happily ever after.

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