Musings & Threads. "Love Hacks"
After 4+ decades of marriage, when I saw this title, I had to look. I figured there might be a tip—or at least something my husband and I could have a little laugh over. Being completely honest, I would have to add the word “smugly,” and if I were really, really honest, “smugly, but with a little bit of anxiety and trepidation thrown in.” After all, after 40 plus years of marriage, we are both smart enough to know that nothing’s perfect, and we think we have a good marriage, but….well, there’s always something. So, I have to admit that I clicked it open with a bad attitude. What’s more, I found the whole idea a little depressing. At first blush it seemed like a “scheme” for those who want to schedule in some marriage improvement that would only take minutes, and would require very little effort. And, while I was right about that, I also have to say that it’s pretty solid advice. You can read the article—but here’s a thumbnail—in case you don’t even have that much time. And then I want to tell you something really important about love that I learned.
Based on couples research by psychologist Eli Finkel as put forth in his book: The All-or-Nothing Marriage, we can liken many of the problems we run into to theories about economics or pricing. It’s a matter of supply and demand—in this case emotional. Simply put, we become less emotionally available to our partners as our partners need more from us. So here are the love hacks that communicate commitment. Interestingly enough—they are a positive communication in a marriage, whether you mean them or not!! And, as you can see they take up almost no time at all. Caveat: Finkel says, “It’s not going to give you a great marriage, but it can certainly improve things.”
Touch your partner, i.e. holding hands will do
Don’t jump to bad conclusions—consider alternatives that don’t put the blame on your partner’s shortcomings
Picture a fight from the outside—someone else is auditing this argument!
Make a gratitude list—write down the positive things that your partner does that enhance your relationship
Accept a Compliment—be open to it and take the time to understand what it is your partner is valuing about you
Celebrate small victories—be open to hearing about, and let yourself get excited about, your partner’s achievements that he/she wants to share, and be sure to share some of that joy too, and maybe even ask about it again—focusing on something that makes your partner feel good about his/herself.
That’s it—very common sense-ical, but easy to forget. I would not mock these recommendations at all! (“Try These Love Hacks to Fix Your Marriage,” by John Tierney, New York Times)
But all of this got me thinking. What was the most memorable expression of love that I have seen? I thought about real life, movies, books, and I came back to this moment, when I was a witness to an expression of love so real and so true.
My twin brother Ken and I were visiting our older brother Jeff. He was just home from the hospital and still strong enough to visit with us in his favorite room in the house, the sun room, with a “rounded” side that overlooked their beautiful gardens.
We had a great visit that day—it was just the four of us, my sister-in-law, Jeff, Ken and me. We told funny stories, and remembered times we hadn’t talked about in a long time. We regaled Angela with anecdotes—the ones we thought were the funniest—of our growing up. We all laughed heartily. Ken and Jeff went over hole-by-hole Ken’s last golf round—it was so boring, but great to be part of none-the-less as Jeff loved it, and asked questions about many of the shots and conditions. He was relaxed—he and Angela were sitting at either end of a comfortable love seat, Jeff on the right side, with his left arm extended up across the back. Angela was kind of lounging back on the other end, and she lifted her right arm up across the back. Her fingertips touched Jeff’s and he looked over at her, her eyes were waiting, and they both smiled, with their glance locked for just a moment. I never wanted that moment to end. I knew then, what I came back to now, there is no love hack for that.