I hope you’ll indulge me today as I post something that is not scrapbook-related. I never do this. But I’ve gotten lots of comments and questions about two subjects that are related to each other — about my relationship with Izzy and about how we both stay so positive and happy.
Since most of what keeps us happy as individuals is also what keeps our relationship young and healthy, I decided to answer both questions in one. I won’t claim to have a perfect life and a flawless marriage. Couples who work together in their own business have the highest risk of divorce so Izzy and I made very specific changes to our lives over the first two years of working together in order to keep our marriage happy.
Those changes made a massive impact on us. I believe in them. So here are some of those things that we do now, as well as the stuff we’ve always done. Adopt any that make sense for you and your special person . . .
1) Have Fun
We laugh every day, almost whenever we’re talking to each other. The way Izzy and I laugh and tease on the Roundtable is how we are all the time. Even during hard times we find things to laugh about. It’s easy with Izzy because he’s a natural joker and he’s funny, but we both try to keep things light. There is very little we hold sacred or take seriously (except for the well-being of others).
Life is too short and precious to be taking it so seriously.
2) Be Healthfully Naive and Assume the Best
We assume the best of each other and of other people and give them the benefit of the doubt. This is my natural tendency — I’ve learned I’m naive that way. But after I figured that out about myself, I also realized that more often than not, it’s close to the truth — people are just trying to get by and be happy. I also figured out that even when a person’s intentions are not so sunny, things work out better if I just assume they were.
It’s almost impossible to insult or offend me because I can empathize with other people’s point of view, even if I disagree with it. Or, if I think a person really is being flat-out mean, I just feel sad for that person and move on.
Quick note — even though some of these things are our natural tendencies, I do believe they are traits that can be learned.
3) Be Active and Eat Healthfully
We exercise most every day. We also take Latin and Ballroom dance lessons once a week and in decent weather we go mountain biking every Friday. I also love to go dancing on the weekend. We eat really healthfully. We eat a plant-based whole-foods diet. Between the exercise and the food, we have lots of energy.
4) Surround Yourself with Positive People
We hang around with other positive people. We limit our time with non-positive people. Others infect us with their attitude, no matter how strong we are.
5) Hold Hands and Give Each Other 100% of your Attention for a MINIMUM of 20 – 30 Minutes a Day.
We make sure we spend a good chunk of time focused on each other with no distractions from kids, work, or other people every single day. Some days we go out together. Other days we do it at home. We ask each other a lot of questions — the way you do when you’re first dating someone and falling for them. You might assume that we wouldn’t have much to ask after 14 years of marriage, but we’re always learning new things about each other, especially in light of our childhoods.
Plus, people evolve, so there’s always something new in the other person’s head, or more in-depth ways to understand the other person. This is even more so when you and your partner are regularly trying or learning new things — which is another point to add to this list!
6) Acquire Experiences Instead of Stuff
We focus on creating and having rich experiences instead of stuff. Except when it comes to feeding our talents and hobbies, buying and having stuff just isn’t important to us. We actually don’t want it.
7) Avoid Negativity (such as the news)
We don’t pay much attention to the negative things going on in the world. We don’t watch or listen to the news. We hear about things here and there, but that stuff can be a real drain and we feel we contribute to society better by focusing on the areas we know we can impact.
8) Don’t Let TV Be Your Go-To Source for Relaxation
We barely watch TV. For six months out of the year we watch 0-2 hours of TV per week. The other six months we watch 3-4 hours per week. (It depends on the season!). That gives us a lot of time to be with each other and with our friends, and to do more enjoyable and fulfilling things like read or create.
9) Prioritize Your Partner’s and Your Own State of Mind.
We put our state of mind above all other demands. I take a couple hours every single day to go be on my own and do whatever fun thing I feel like doing. He makes sure that happens for me. Not that everybody needs that, but we realized that I do because I have a desperate need to be independent and free.
I try to make sure Izzy gets what he needs to be feeling good, too. His needs revolve more around the emotional and physical ways I reach out to him.
10) Embrace Newness
We look for new experiences and new things to try! Almost like falling in love, trying new things ignites feelings of wonder and excitement. When you do this together, you transfer those feelings to each other as well. It also gives you more things to talk about and new ways to explore and understand each other.
11) Be Each Others’ Refuge
It’s easy to become a source of stress for your partner, especially when there are problems with children or finances, or when you work together for your own business. We learned to demand less of each other (for example, around the house) and instead work for the other’s emotional well-being. It became a goal to be each others’ refuge.
We look to each other for relaxation, not to make sure the other one got something done. Izzy is my escape from stress and troubles and I am the escape for him. We fill each other up and make it easier for the other to conquer the world.
12) Never Assume Your Relationship is Immune to the Threats of Divorce
Izzy and I do things every day to woo the other. We flirt a lot. We try to look our best every day. Your efforts to gain your lover’s affections before you got married should continue forever. It’s even more vital to gain and keep your spouse’s adoration once you’re married with children than it was when you were still single.