Week 1 of The Lovers’ Diet is done and dusted, and I have seven lovely complements to show for it.
Sure, my man may have forgotten his task (ahem, twice), but he made up for it in typical fashion by giving me three complements on one piece of paper, ensuring he met his prescribed quota and didn’t end up in the doghouse. Nicely played, sir.
Last week’s challenge was all about reminding ourselves – and our partners – of how lucky we are to have found each other. I’ve been reading ‘The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work’ and this paragraph stuck with me:
“At first, this may all seem obvious to the point of being ridiculous: People who are happily married like each other. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be happily married. But fondness and admiration can be fragile unless you remain aware of how crucial they are to the friendship that is the core of any good marriage. By simply reminding yourself of your spouse’s positive qualities – even as you grapple with each other’s flaws – you can prevent a happy marriage from deteriorating. The simple reason is that fondness and admiration are antidotes to contempt.”
This week’s challenge is about talking. Talking and really SAYING something. Rather than reeling off shopping list of priority admin items like we normally do.
Does this sound familiar?
Me – The baby’s sick and needs more Nurofen. Can you pick up some tomorrow for me?
Him- Can you remember to pay the energy bill?
Me – I think we need to buy an outdoor rug. Now that we’ve got the new BBQ, the back courtyard is getting filthy.
Him – Are we free on the 22nd? We’ve been invited to Josh and Anna’s place for a play-date?
We ask about each other’s days, but it’s not like we are really, really interested. Most of the time, it’s a habitual question asked as a matter of course, while our brain keeps prattling on with whatever we have been thinking about before we asked the question. We don’t really expect a different answer to the one we got yesterday. Or the day before. Sometimes we’re surprised by the outcome; like the days when my physio hubby tells me he has treated a celebrity (I know, I sound like a teenager, but I find it sooo cool!) but these responses are one-offs, and a far cry from the auto-pilot answer “my day was OK”.
I know for a fact that I used to reveal more about myself – my hopes, dreams, failures, fears – to my tea buddy at work. We’d talk about books we had read, movies we’d seen; politics; our elderly grandparents, and heaps of interesting stuff that I’m just too tired at the end of the day to bring up with my own man at home. In fairness, we tend to spend the majority of our waking hours in the office, so perhaps this isn’t surprising. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t sad.
For this reason, I’ve decided to call Week 2’s challenge the TEA BUDDY CHALLENGE.
Set aside 15-20minutes every day for tea with your loved one. Put on the kettle, sit down, and talk.
This is a real challenge for me. I have a 3 year old and a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night, and I’m usually knackered at both the beginning and end of a day. This task is going to require me to either wake up early, or go to bed late, and I am dreading both options. But the truth is, there’s simply no other time. So sleep-sacrifice is a must.
There are some ground rules.
(1) I want you to cover the following topics, and
(2) I you aren’t allowed to talk about ADMIN. (This includes kids, if you have them).
Day 1: Think about how far you’ve come together as a couple, and talk about it. Talk about everything you’ve accomplished as a team.
Day 2: Think about everything that’s interesting you at the moment: politics, fashion, new products, news, the book you’re reading… and share it.
Day 3: Look over this list of 36 psychologist-approved questions you should ask someone on your first date, to determine compatibility. It’s quite a hoot – I’d have been MORTIFIED to ask a guy a handful of these upon meeting, like …squirm….”How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?” Tackle a few of them, and have a laugh over how you would have responded to them back in the year that the two of you first met, versus now. What – if anything – has changed?
Day 4: What’s your heart’s greatest desire…. currently? how has this changed over time?
Day 5: Bring out the photo albums. Talk about the memories that crop up. (And the fashion faux pas, of course!)
Day 6: Try to make each other laugh. Any way you can. What are the funny things you can remember from over the years? Like the time when my fella took me to Scotland’s BEST fish’n’chips shop in Pittenweem and I promptly burst into tears (a STREAM of tears) when he squirted brown sauce all over my chips. RUINED. We’d been dating for 3 months, and he didn’t drop me straight away. I knew he was a keeper.
If you see something funny on facebook, keep hold of it and share it over tea. Let’s lighten the load of marriage – forget about kids, mortgages, bills, and all that background noise for a while. Let’s have a giggle.
Day 7: Plan a date night. Spend the whole 20 minutes working out how you can find/afford a babysitter, where you’ll go, what you’ll wear and BOOK IT IN.
Good luck, and don’t forget to share how you’re getting on! Post pictures of your teapot, or a selfie of you sipping on your chamomiles to Instagram and remember #theloversdiet @stresslessjessie