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Exploring Womanhood > Relationships > Articles

Staying Committed and Keeping that Spark Alive!
By Jackie Black, Ph.D.

We have powerful desires to belong and to connect with a special someone.

In the U.S. we inherited a model for marriage and relationships that has remained largely unchanged for over 50 years. That traditional model was never intended to integrate our individual needs with the needs of the partnership. The traditional way promised physical and financial security, a sense of belonging, continuity and comfort. The old model has been deeply ingrained in all of us by watching our parents and grandparents.

The old rules don't work anymore! We cannot continue to depend on traditional, deeply ingrained beliefs, expectations and assumptions about relationships. We need to stop building the most important relationships of our lives on outdated beliefs, destructive myths, unrealistic expectations, faulty assumptions and un-negotiated roles and responsibilities.

Modern partners are concerned with:

  • Living their vision;
  • Love of self;
  • Deepening emotional intimacy;
  • Having shared values;
  • Commitment to living in authenticity; and
  • Willingness to honor the fires of passion that burn inside.

Couples are demanding more intimacy and insisting on supporting each other to live their best "individual" life. At the same time, contemporary partners are committed to co-creating deeply meaningful relationships that provide:

  • Safe havens to be one's most vulnerable self;
  • Open to the most sacred feelings shared with another; and
  • Connections defined by joy and the hopes of a future that will be a lasting testament of their love and commitment.

A big challenge for partners today in committing to another person is the potential loss of personal identity and giving up personal hopes and dreams. Those losses would have been a virtual certainty in the old model of marriage and relationships.

Not so today! Contemporary men and women are ready to honor their individual needs and create partnerships that honor their deeper selves; create committed, functional relationships that deepen their emotional intimacy, trust, love, and connection; and develop skills, rituals, and practices for deepening emotional, physical and spiritual connection with each other!

Essential Relationship Skills that Keep that Spark Alive!

If you are in the majority of contemporary committed couples, I'll bet, if you thought about it for a moment, you would discover that you spend more time each week watching television or commuting to work than you do alone with your honey!

In your demanding world filled with multiple priorities, responsibilities and distractions, everything and everyone else seems to be more important than attending to your most intimate and special relationship.

I think you'd agree that to keep that spark alive, you and your beloved must spend quality, eyeball-to-eyeball time together.

Do you and your sweetheart carve out quality, alone time every week? Do you both take responsibility for it, or does the task fall to one or the other of you? Do one or both of you allow "real" interruptions to get in the way or spoil your planned time together?

Here are a few simple suggestions to get your own personal creativity going:

  • Meet once a week to look at your schedules and set aside time for each other.
  • At least once a week plan a Date Night. Once a month plan a Date Day (that's right! A whole day from morning to evening). Once each quarter plan a weekend get-away. Once each year plan a week away together.
  • Mark your planned time in your calendar, just like a dentist appointment or an appointment with a client. Write it in ink! Mark yourself out for a block of time.
  • Take turns planning your dates each week.
  • One week you might send the kids to Grandma's house or a neighbor's, stay in, order a pizza and rent a movie. The next week you might get a sitter and go out on the town.
  • Do the grocery shopping and buy a bouquet of flowers for your partner
  • Write a love note and leave it for your partner to find.
  • Put the kids to bed, and, instead of watching T.V., doing laundry or other chores, go to bed early and share massages, talk or cuddle.
  • Turn off the T.V., turn on the stereo and have a talk.
  • Kiss your spouse Good Morning and Good Night every day. Just say, "I love you."

Think back to when you first started dating. What did you do? What things did you both enjoy that you no longer make time to do? Why did you fall in love?

Let your creative juices flow! Let your imagination go wild! Anything goes. This is the most important person in your life. Rejoice! Celebrate yourself and each other. Embrace the moment and the gift of your love.

Remember, only You can make it happen!

About the Author:
Jackie Black, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized relationship educator, author and coach who works with men and women who are single again, newly-married, new parents, divorced, widowed or in a committed relationship that is challenging! Dr. Jackie's book, Meeting Your Match: Cracking the Code to Successful Relationships is the pre-eminent guide to "how- to" make a relationship work, and navigate the world of dating. Dr. Jackie is a frequent guest expert and a popular Internet syndicated columnist, and a veteran lecturer and educator. Dr. Jackie lives in Southern California. For more information visit www.crackingthecodebook.com.


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