Marriage

alliancesTwenty years ago it was marriage season for us and our friends. Today it seems we are in the season where some of our friends are separating or getting divorced. Which makes us sad.

Looking at their relationships from the outside we had the impression that everything was fine. But when chatting with the husbands and wives in these couples, I repeatedly hear the same story: “at the end we were nothing but roommates”. Or, “We don’t do anything together anymore apart from raising kids. I don’t feel desired by him/her, and – frankly – my partner simply doesn’t make my heart beat faster anymore.”

This reminded me of something my friend Simon T. Bailey shares during his conferences. His wife Renée reminds him regularly of the following rule: “whatever it took you to get me, you should continue doing to keep me!”

Far fetched? Maybe. But an effective remedy against routine.

Enough with, « let’s go grab something to eat somewhere », how about, « in which restaurant should we reserve tonight?» instead. No more, « not worth washing my hair tonight », but « give me 30 minutes, I’d like to look pretty for you to go out with this evening».

Romance crushing routine and the pressures of running a home together can make us forget that our partner still needs to feel loved and desired. The remedies don’t need to be complicated: a little surprise outing, a candlelit dinner. His favorite cake, even though it is not his birthday. There are so many ways to say « I love you ».

How will you say it ?



Polite Delight

bulle de paroleAbout 20 years ago my husband offered to take me to dinner at a very, very chic restaurant for my birthday. Given that the restaurant was a wildly-romantic, last-minute idea, we had to confess on arrival that we didn’t actually have a reservation. Without missing a beat – and with a lovely welcoming smile – the maître d’ simply said: «But Madame, Monsieur, we’ve been waiting for you!»

Wonderful! We knew he’d said the same thing many times before, but 20 years later we still talk about it.

These little expressions – like the one he used – don’t cost a thing and are delightfully precious currency in our day-to-day interactions. For instance, when we are over for dinner at our friend Gérard’s place, if we ask for a bit more ice cream or red wine, he always quickly responds with, « Of course. I was just about to offer…». He never gives us the impression that we are being demanding. On the contrary, he makes it seem he is at fault for not offering sooner.

Whenever I hear an expression that I like, I adopt it and use it in my interactions with others, so I can spread the smile I got when I first heard it.

And you? Which expressions make you smile? Click here and share your favorite one.



New York

Brooklyn BridgeAs soon as I set foot in New York I am captivated. From the first second, I’m enthralled by new impressions: hundreds of yellow cabs slaloming nimbly between potholes; hot dog vendors on every street corner; a permanent ballet of delivery trucks that will deliver what you want, when you want it; the incessant back-ground noise of the sirens of fire trucks, ambulances and police cars; a noisy and smelly subway; skyscrapers that will give your neck a kink; and billboards staring down on it all. New York is very alive. New York fascinates me.

I love it. Others hate it. Some of them are close friends. How can this be?

Understanding their opinion intrigues me. How can we have tastes that are so different? I try to understand, and – no matter what – I am ready to agree that we will not agree.
And you? – are you able to agree with somebody with whom you don’t agree that you’ll agree to disagree, so that you can move on to other things ?



Kiss it!

While waiting for a train, I observe a lovely family on the platform with three small children playing rambunctiously. As might be expected, soon enough the littlest one falls over one of their suitcases and hurts himself.

His mother rubs his arm soothingly, but he holds up his elbow and demands: « Kiss it and make it better mommy, kiss it ! » She smacks two noisy kisses on the elbow and – miraculously healed – he runs off to play again.

So far so normal. Then I spot the learning in the situation: when you want something, be sure to ask for it ! Far too many of us hope that our colleagues, neighbors or spouses have extraordinary telepathic powers. Instead, she could simply say « would you mind kissing me more often? ». Or, « could you please put your dirty things in the laundry basket and not on the couch? » instead of slow cooking in resentment while doing it herself. He could be clear and say « would you mind giving me 15 minutes of calm when I get home » instead of offering monosyllabic irritation in response to reasonable (but premature) questions about his day.

Let’s allow ourselves to be inspired by kids. Is there something you need to ask for, so you enhance the likelihood that you actually get it ?



Athletic

If I was looking for a word to describe my younger self, ‘athletic’ is probably the very last adjective that I would feel comfortable employing. At school, I was mediocre at sports. At tennis I was just o.k. At downhill skiing I was more scared than skillful.

It isn’t false modesty; I am quite sincerely not talented for any particular sport. I don’t run very fast, I don’t dance very well, etc.

BUT, I love what Ernest Hemingway had to say about this:

anneaux olympiques« There is nothing noble in being superior to your peers. True nobility is to be superior to the person you’ve been before. »

If I compare myself with others in a particular domain, I am often just mediocre. However, when I compare my current self to my earlier self it is a different story: after having jogged for years I eventually managed to finish a marathon; after having been employed by others, I went on to create my own company; after having written short articles, I wrote 3 books; after singing in the shower for years, I participated in my first show.

So what have you done better today than yesterday? – Be proud of it!

And – because none of us are particularly good at recognizing this kind of thing – make sure you help your friends to see and celebrate their successes!


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Who am I ?

I am a contemporary philosopher.
I capture life's little events in bubbles of happiness to inspire you in an amusing and optimistic way.

Yours bubbly,
Gundula

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