As we approach Valentine’s Day this year, I would like to highlight some of the best ways to keep your relationship romantic, close, connected and hot:

  • Learn how to nurture. When you think of nurturing a child, most people know what that means.  But when you nurturing your intimate partner, many people give blank stares when asked how they can better nurture their partner or their relationship.  None of us—no matter how grown up we are—have given up our need or desire to be nurtured.  Some common nurturing behaviors include hugs, cuddling, saying “I love you,” genuine compliments, showing interest in me, showing interest in my feelings and desires, cooking, romantic surprises, sexual seduction, regularly being invited out on dates or special events, empathy, kindness and feeling respected, liked, loved, valued and cherished—through words, deeds and touch.  Who doesn’t wish to be showered with love, affection and romance?
  • Making the relationship your top priority.  Not work, TV, sports, friends, chores, family, other obligations or other distractions.  If you find time for the relationship and not let other things get in the way, you’re communicating to your partner that you value being with him or her.  Author Leonard Felder reminds us that we would never say to our garden “I love you, but I don’t have time to water you or tend to you. But I hope everything works out OK.”
  • Ask yourself:  If I were going to make this relationship work, what would I have to do?  What would I need to quit doing?  Most people know what it would take for their intimate partner to make them happier, but few people have the perspective about what their partner needs or wants from them.  If you don’t know the answer to this question—or if your answer is superficial or vague—ask this question of your partner and be willing to learn what s/he wants from you—that you might not be giving—or giving enough of.
  • Be reciprocal and responsive.  In any relationship, people periodically “bid” for their partner’s attention, affection, connection or support.  Either you turn toward the bids for connection, or you turn away from them.  But to have strong, on-going romance in your relationship, you must consistently turn toward your partner’s bids for connection the vast majority of the time.  If you are, in addition,  responsive to what I say is important to me, I’ll feel lucky to have you.
  • Be willing to give more than you receive and don’t keep score.
  • Always treat your intimate partner with respect.  Think about it.  We lose respect for people who are rude, inconsiderate or disrespectful to us or to others.  Is it really that much to ask that you consistently be a lady or a gentleman?
  • Romantic gestures.  Doing nice things for your partner such as flowers, romantic surprises, cards, notes, gifts, sweet voice mail messages, whispering sweet nothings in his/her ear—all these gestures are more important than you think.  If these romantic gestures stop, that means that courtship has stopped, and if courtship stops, your relationship is more fragile.  Always woo your intimate partner, even if you’ve been married for many years.  Live as lovers, not just as husband and wife.

I will continue this list in next week’s column.

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