Adding Spice to Your Love Life Through Routine and Predictability

“We almost died like 15 times throughout this movie, Sandra. We should totally go home and do it.” – Keanu Reeves (Image/whodatedwho.com)

Have you ever been an audience member during a speaking presentation or concert where the audience is asked to do something to participate—like share something to the group, or clap, or sing? You remember that feeling?

Yeah, you do.

I’ve always hated that shit. It triggers whatever big red Discomfort Button that lives in the invisible parts of me, and every time it gets pushed, the loudspeaker in my brain yells, “Everyone is looking at you and judging you and thinking that you’re a stupid asshole!”

It’s irrational. I know it’s silly and unnecessary to think and feel that way. I’m intellectually aware that it’s unhealthy, that hardly anyone is paying attention to me, ever, and if they are, they give zero effs what I’m doing, because they’re too busy worrying about themselves if they’re neurotic like me, or not having a care in the world if they’ve achieved a higher level of mental and emotional maturity than I have.

At 40, I get this in ways I did not in my teens and twenties. But lifelong habits are hard to break, so this is still the default mental and emotional experience whenever I’m in those situations.

Public displays of affection (unless I quiet that internal loudspeaker with the requisite amount of alcohol) trigger those same thoughts and feelings.

My ex-wife used to playfully make fun of me for it, but I think it also made her feel bad. If she grabbed my hand while we were walking together, I’d tense up a little, hold it for just a bit, give it a quick double-squeeze which was SUPPOSED to communicate: “I really do love you! I swear!” but which I’m pretty sure communicated: “It’s sweet that you want to hold my hand, but I care more about what OTHER people think of me/us than I care about you feeling connected and cared for in our relationship! So piss off with the hand-holding, babe!”

Can you imagine? Caring more about what strangers you’ve never met, and probably never will, might think about you for holding your wife’s hand or kissing her?

It’s some next-level dickbag stuff. Life tip: Care more about the emotional wellbeing of the people you love than you do about the neurotic stories you conjure up in your own brain regarding what strangers might think.

Simply, one of those things matters and has genuine relevance to your life, and the other does not.

Romantic Spontaneity vs. ‘Boring’ Routines

If you’re guessing that because I operated that way about hand-holding and any other form of public affection, that I also resisted forced romantic and/or intimate encounters because they didn’t seem ‘authentic’ due to their inherent lack of spontaneity, you’re a fabulous guesser.

Reminder: My wife totally divorced me six years ago, and in my estimation, made an appropriate choice to preserve what was left of her mental/emotional health.

This irrational thing I was doing inside my own head inevitably led to countless situations in which repeated attempts by my wife to connect with me were rejected. Several times per year for more than a dozen years.

Romance and sexual desire doesn’t always manifest in the daily hum-drum routines of the average married couple who spent a long day at work and are maybe caring for kids and pets throughout the mornings and evenings the way it does between two super-attractive Hollywood actors who just survived a dramatic near-death experience in the movies.

I guess I thought that’s what was supposed to happen.

Leveraging the Power of Habit to Increase Emotional Connection with our Partners

I was reminded of how egregiously I failed my wife while watching a recent Mindvalley video featuring Jon and Missy Butcher, called 9 Daily Habits That Will Help You Lead An Extraordinary Life.

Here’s a couple married 25 years, and instead of them complaining about one another to anyone who will listen like most of the 25-year couples I’ve encountered, these two take a walk together every single day, as a daily check-in.

While most of us are busy holding in our frustrations so they can spew out in an undisciplined way at what usually ends up being the most inopportune times, Jon and Missy plan a time each day to unload all of that crap to one another. A daily appointment with one another to listen to each other about the things they experienced earlier in the day, good and bad. This is what it looks like to intentionally move toward one another instead of allowing the natural drift-apart to occur by being too busy with everything else.

And then, once per week, the couple has an overnight date night. Maybe at home. Maybe somewhere else. But every single week, Friday night overnight, no matter where they are, belongs to them, and arrangements are made for everything else in their lives (children, pets, work) to be cared for.

This is their Connection Ritual.

This is what it means to water your own lawn so that your own grass ALWAYS looks greener and better than whatever is on the other side of the fence.

Having a good marriage or a quality, connected romantic relationship of any kind, I think, is a lot like getting in good physical shape. A select few don’t have to work very hard to look and feel great. But most of us do.

And despite the efforts of many magic diet and supplement salespeople, there are no shortcuts to being our best selves physically.

You just do the work. It’s really hard at the beginning. Inertia is always the greatest obstacle. Something new is always more difficult to accomplish than something routine. Our first week of work is always more challenging and intimidating than our 18th month on the job. We move every day. We are mindful about what we consume. The more healthy choices we make, the more our health and wellness benefits from those choices.

And so it is with our relationships. They are what the participants mindfully choose for them to be. When two people wake up every day making the choice to choose one another, and prioritizing one another over everything else, our connections grow. Our love flourishes. Our relationships thrive.

And when you derpy-derp around like I did with your fingers crossed that everything will work out without having to give anything or do anything uncomfortable to achieve it?

I think it’s telling that I don’t even have to say it.

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6 thoughts on “Adding Spice to Your Love Life Through Routine and Predictability

  1. This completely speaks to me. My ex not only wouldn’t hold my hand, he would walk two to three steps in front of me most of the time, which drove me crazy. When I pointed it out, he would wait for me to catch up, walk by my side for a few minutes, then start creeping ahead of me again. He said it was because he was taller than me and took longer steps. (Everyone is taller than me; I’m 5′ 1″; He is 5′ 10″.) I eventually stopped mentioning it and figured that’s how it was. It’s not. My current partner is 6′ 2″ and not only walks beside me, he holds my hand constantly.

    The same thing applied to intimacy. I was told early on in our marriage that innuendo or straightforward comments about sex made him uncomfortable. Subtlety went right over his head, and he went to sleep much later than I did most nights, so intimacy in our marriage suffered. When he complained about it, I suggested he consider going to bed when I did. This didn’t happen.

    But still I tried to keep my marriage. Right up until the day he announced he was done. Am I better off now? Yes. Much. But it took me three years of grieving and trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me that the man who promised to love me for the rest of our lives in front of our families and friends suddenly didn’t want to be with me any more. Therapy helped a lot. I am more confident and have a better self-image now than at any other point in my life. While I am sorry my marriage ended, I think I ended up better off.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Matt says:

      From the culprit’s point of view, I get this all the way. I’m so sorry. It’s good to hear that you used the experience as a growth opportunity and have made choices that make you feel better about yourself and your life than before. I’m pretty sure that’s as good as we can ever do. ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Mrs Anonymous says:

    This whole hand holding thing . . . When we were dating he would only allow me to hold one of his fingers . . . Was he afraid someone would see? Just another red flag that I missed along with all the other red flags from my porn addict, biggest jerk off husband of 30+ years. Probably will be ex-husband someday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Arlene says:

    I have always thought that i asked for more being prioritized and prioritizing my partner over everything and anything apart from God.
    It has always been my dream and fantasy but I was told that only exists in movies. Am very grateful for the time you took jotting this down… Though I haven’t found someone with the same mindset, am hopeful and ready to implement what I have always believed in.
    You know i have always wondered why when people get kids, they then shift the love from their spouses to their kids. I believe in loving kids, but before kids were, we were.. we loved each other before these “intruders”. Please don’t get me wrong; I love kids a lot… but i believe in marriage, parents should come first because a happy parent makes happy children.. that’s my theory.
    I feel compelled to print this so I keep remembering that there are people with like mindset!

    Like

  4. Arlene says:

    Reblogged this on Blogging with Arlene and commented:
    I have always thought that i asked for more being prioritized and prioritizing my partner over everything and anything apart from God.
    It has always been my dream and fantasy but I was told that only exists in movies. Am very grateful for the time you took jotting this down… Though I haven’t found someone with the same mindset, am hopeful and ready to implement what I have always believed in.
    You know i have always wondered why when people get kids, they then shift the love from their spouses to their kids. I believe in loving kids, but before kids were, we were.. we loved each other before these “intruders”. Please don’t get me wrong; I love kids a lot… but i believe in marriage, parents should come first because a happy parent makes happy children.. that’s my theory.

    Like

  5. Louie says:

    I was recently hospitalized for a severe and unexpected blood infection. We had gone to visit our son who lives a few hours away and I became unexplainablely ill. I was kept in a strange hospital in a strange town being poked prodded and examined , I.Vs x-rays CAT scans and a steady stream of blood collectors and many others round the clock. My beautiful beloved Anne took up a position next to my bed for the entire week never leaving my side or complaining of her personal discomfort. She listened and asked questions never letting any detail of my treatment go unnoticed or undocumented. I’m so much better because she cared for me. I often talk about walking lockstep with one another to some it’s theoretical to us it’s practice. During our 36 years together,even when we had our relationship problems, we’ve always been there and been active. We still look forward to our weekly date nights(and the peanut butter pandimonium ice cream!) It grounds us to each other the spice is the warm sweetness of our bond. We leave at the end of July for Anne’s third treatment…they’ re working and we ate so grateful to have each other during the rough and the smooth.

    Liked by 3 people

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