Last weekend was my first wedding anniversary with my husband, the first of what I hope will be many in a long marriage. But because this is my second marriage, I’m all too aware of how fragile relationships can be. I know how much work a good relationship is. Fortunately, a lot of the work in a committed relationship can be really fun to do; it’s only “work” in the sense that it takes conscious effort.
To that end, I asked Linda Carroll, author of my favorite relationship book, Love Cycles, for some relationship happiness tips — ridiculously easy things that Mark and I can do to celebrate our anniversary and that will help us keep the love alive. Here are her suggestions:
#1 Reminisce about the beginning of your relationship over a relaxing dinner together: how you met, your first dates, and the “eureka moment” when you realized you’d found the right partner.
#2 Find a photograph of your partner as a child, one that is especially endearing. (I found the above picture of Mark in a pile of old photos in a kitchen cabinet, of all places.) Carry it in your wallet or put it on your iPhone and feel your heart touched whenever you see it.
#3 Think of what might make you hard to live with, and list the ways your partner has shown patience, forgiveness, and acceptance of you over time.
#4 List the top three most clever, courageous, or caring things your partner has ever said or done for you (or for someone else). Remind yourself of these gifts bestowed by your partner. Bear them in mind as you go through your daily life.
#5 List the top three qualities of your partner and use them to play a private game where you catch your partner in the act of displaying these admirable qualities.
Take Action: Choose one of Carroll’s tips to do with someone special tonight. If it feels hokey, or makes you feel vulnerable, be courageous and go for it anyway — you’ll be happier in the long run.
Join the discussion: What other ideas do you have for falling in love all over again? What works for you?
In her fantastic book Love Cycles, author and veteran couples therapist Linda Carroll explains that love is cyclical and comprised of five distinct stages: the Merge, Doubt and Denial, Disillusionment, Decision, and Wholehearted Loving. She explains that love’s more challenging stages are part of genuine intimacy, rather than signs of its demise, and promises that the greatest benefit of our intimate relationships is the opportunity they provide to grow and develop as a human being.