Remembering Love (Pt 1)

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Booking under: Keith

As I sit here and write this post, I am surprised by how quickly time seems to have passed since we began our happiness project. After boosting energy in January, our theme this month is to Remember Love. I’m sure it has nothing to do with a certain day in the middle of this month. Nothing at all.

When I take a moment to reflect on my relationship with Nicole, I am very thankful that things have been excellent overall. Sure we have our disagreements (what couple doesn’t?), but they have tended to be minor and we have always focused on resolving our problems together instead of venting our anger on each other.So while things have been going swimmingly, we want to build on our solid foundation and grow stronger as a couple. Here are my takeaways for the month of February:

So while things have been going swimmingly, we want to build on our solid foundation and grow stronger as a couple. Here are my takeaways for the month of February:

1. Don’t expect praise or appreciation

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Don’t expect praise. But a nice fluffy animal would be cool.

I identify a lot with Gretchen on this, and I suspect almost everyone does too. We all enjoy being given praise and I’ve always loved being complimented for something I did well (even if I then politely brush it off like we were all raised to do). Instead, I will turn my focus on the task/deed itself – doing something because it is worth doing and not because I might get praised. I’ve always believed we should do something simply because it’s the right thing to do and not because other people do it/it’s the “cool” thing to do. But too often I would want to get noticed for doing something good – especially from people I hold dear. So my commitment here is to not expect praise, but instead to give it out and be more grateful of the good work of others. Including, of course, Nicole’s.

2. Fight right

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Fight right. Not like this.

Gretchen notes that “couples who fight right tackle only one difficult topic at a time, instead of indulging in arguments that cover every grievance since the first date.” While this might not be directly relevant to our relationship (we just haven’t had any major fights and don’t feel like something is missing because of that), I want to apply this to my interactions with anyone. As a flawed human being (yes surprisingly I am one too), I often feel tempted to mention the other flaws of another person if I argue with him/her and I have observed this being done to me too. But not only is this irrelevant to the current dispute, it simply makes the other party feel worse and does not help resolve the current problem. Therefore, I will commit to remain logical in disagreements in others and focus only on the current problem, instead of bringing in unrelated issues that make it harder to resolve the present conflict.

3. Respect gender-specific approaches to intimacy

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Key takeaway: Men and women have different approaches to boosting intimacy.

For me, the biggest insight from this chapter is this: women’s idea of an intimate moment is a face-to-face conversation, while men feel close when they work or play alongside someone. This made a lot of sense to me on second thought. Girls (typically) enjoy a good catch up over tea where they can talk about all manner of things while guys (typically) enjoy just hanging out or doing something together (playing football or having a gaming party). I remember a recent biking trip that we had – I was very happy to simply spend the afternoon biking with her but I also wondered if we should have talked a little more (admittedly hard to do while biking but I kept thinking a little more chatting would have been better). Moving forward, I will be more conscious of our different approaches to intimacy and look for ways in our dates to address both – doing activities together and having meaningful conversations too.

4. Give proofs of love

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I would give her this. But my drawings are nowhere near as good.

The Pierre Reverdy quote that Gretchen used to open this section of the chapter was quite striking: “There is no love; there are only proofs of love.” This brought me back to something my college pastor told me a few years ago – “don’t believe what people say, but what they do.” I think Nicole and I have no problem communicating our feelings toward one another, but this is a good reminder that we have to live out our affection for others, and not simply say it (always nice to hear it though).

And as a way of practicing my commitment for item 1 above, I want to recognize something Nicole did for me last year that was an incredible proof of love. I was pulling long nights for an extended stretch of time at work, and one night she very nicely (and without my knowledge) came and waited downstairs for me. I had no idea she was there (even when she sent me a picture with some furniture that was obviously from downstairs the office building). It was only after she told me where she was that I promptly rushed downstairs. By then it was well past 12 am and she had been waiting for a few hours (with a nice medicinal drink for me). To me, this was a very touching proof of love as she sacrificed hours of her evening that could have been spent relaxing at home or elsewhere. But she chose to surprise me (which I basically failed to notice) and I still feel very touched (and equally embarrassed!). Thanks B 🙂

Summing Up

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Well, another month, another four actions for me. They are:

1. Don’t expect praise or appreciation – give them out instead

2. Fight right – one issue at a time and stay on topic

3. Respect gender-specific approaches to intimacy –pursue both

4. Give proofs of love – putting my money where my mouth is (not literally. It tastes terrible)

It’ll be interesting to see how I do with my four new resolutions in addition to the ones carrying over from last month. But I am excited to tackle these new commitments and show Nicole (and everyone else) a little more love. Do you have any tips on how to show love? How do you counter nagging or resolve conflicts with your partner? Feel free to sound off below or shoot us an email at aloha.abf2@gmail.com. See you back here next week for Nicole’s sharing!

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