Today being Valentine’s Day and all it would seem like a great disservice if I did not write about love. So. Expected and unsurprising though it may be, let me roll out for you a list of the very things you can do right after you fall in love truly, madly, deeply — Keeping. It. That. Way. Maybe not always exactly and only in that totally feverish, giddy manner that jumpstarts very new love, but also in that smooth, steady way that goes down — deep, deep down — and settles there, in that very part of you that words and kisses cannot reach. Inspired faithfully by James Ingram’s famous love song, entitled How Do You Keep The Music Playing (what else?), this is just my own list. Feel free to make, and share, your own.
1. Dream together. It is fun, and empowering. Dreaming makes for a happy, positive space in the mind, and propels you, no matter how subliminally, to move forward towards making them come true. Dream small dreams, dream big ones. Just connect and be in synch and dream together.
2. Make your home a happy home. Let it be a space where your man can retreat to after a busy day, a place where he can just relax and be himself and not have to worry about messing up how picture perfect everything must be. Allow him to put his feet up in the coffee table, to dump stuff on the nice couch, to make a mess in the kitchen. Let it pass when he forgets to put something back in its place. Just do it yourself instead of running after him, nagging about why he forgot for the nth time.
3. Keep yourself attractive. And interesting. We’ve all seen it happen countless times. The cat’s in the bag and you slowly decide to stop putting your best foot forward. Don’t let go of the very things that made him fall for you in the first place, physically and otherwise. This is not shallow, it is essential. Also, pursue interests and passion outside that of your man’s. When you come together at the end of the day you will have much to share with each other.
3. Smell good. Always. Why do you think we involuntarily close our eyes with a smile the moment we bury our nose in the neck of a sleeping baby? Because the joy is so sheer, but so real. And it’s so good you’ll want to do it over and over again. Think about that. No man would want to kiss a woman who smells of kitchen spices, especially when she was not even slaving in the kitchen in the first place.
4. Never take each other for granted. That applies for things both big and small, but especially small because those are the ones that pile up to potentially become an ominous mountain.
6. Do not have a Plan B. Marriage is for keeps. Do not go into it with the mindset that if it does not work, you have many options for a way out. If you start out thinking that way, already you are programming yourself that somewhere in the future, it will fall apart. And when that happens you will not even work so hard at picking up the pieces because you will simply deploy the Plan B you’ve had all along. It is better to go at marriage with a zest and verve that spells “great expectations” because most of the time in this game called life, you really do get what you expect.
7. Argue. Discuss. Fight. By all means, do all that. But do not stop loving each other through it all. It is healthy to disagree, but do so like the loving adult couple that you are. You can rise above any discussion intact and in one piece. When these things happen, give each other space to breathe and process what has been said. You will need a little time apart, even if it is just in different corners in the room. In short, know when to shut up and recognize that moment when all that needs to be said has already been said.
8. Cuddle in bed at night. And don’t forget to smile, and kiss, and hug each other. Do that when you begin your day, and also when you end your night. And every chance you get in between. These random acts will keep the fire burning. Get used to it so that you will miss it when it’s not there. Take advantage of the joy of text messaging. It is like being given the freedom and the chance to constantly write little love notes to each other.
9. Don’t lose yourself in the other person. Stay true to who you are, have a little life outside of his. He did not choose you so that he will have a shadow, a female version of himself. Celebrate your diversities, they will make for entries in that long list of why you love each other.
10. Eat together. Cook together. There is something about food and love that work very well together.
11. Pray over your man while he is sleeping. And love him in a relaxed, happy manner. You are not Bantay, the dog. You have a life to live, things to do, a household to run. You have to trust your man, the sanctity of your marriage vows, and believe that when it comes to temptation, God’s grace begins where his self-control may end. It is useless and disrespectful to yourself when you spend all your energy monitoring his whereabouts. Trust that he knows when he has a good thing going, and believe he will not do anything stupid to jeopardize that. Love is not about being suspicious or paranoid. That is no way to love.
12. Do not make marriage a license for him to always see you at your worst. Do not be so “natural” that you will go down and have dinner with his friends with your facemask on, in your duster, with uncombed hair. Do not pick your nose or let out gas and think it is cute and/or funny, and that he will think it is cute and/or funny. These are things that only kids under eight years old can get away with.
13. Love is an everyday commitment. Yes, it is an everyday decision. You wake up each day reaffirming the fact that nothing can and will take that love away. Make that part of your daily prayer.
14. Feel free to admire others openly. But tell him that he can look only, no touch. You do not have to take offense when your man finds someone else attractive. It just means a) he has good taste (if the woman is indeed pretty) or b) it is a full moon and he will snap out of his delirium soon enough (if the object of admiration is far from, shall we say and for lack of a better word, admirable). He may be having one of those days, similar to our version of PMS. Do not make “a” or “b” a reason to fight, or even so much as argue.
15. Get used to being affectionate. Be vocal about how you feel for each other, too. They are like talismans. A hug always feels good. Words heal. Use both in the best way possible, many, many times, all the time
16. Remember that your man does not have a crystal ball. The silent treatment will bring forth nothing but, you guessed it, silence. Tell him what is on your mind, and get it over with. Then you can move forward instead of steeping in (oftentimes unfounded) negative feelings of rejection, resentment, hurt.
17. Listen to great old love songs. At the risk of sounding like a broken record I highly recommend Rod Stewart’s “Great American Songbook Volumes I-IV.” Tony Bennett, too. And OPM. I can listen to those songs forever and ever. Sadly, the new generation of love songs (the greater lot of them, anyway) suffer from a poverty of thoughts; after the brilliant first stanza and if you’re lucky, a sparkling chorus, too, everything just sort of repeats and gets soggy and sappy towards the end, like they worried more about the words rhyming than they ever did the message). Somehow, they just don’t hold up as well as the old songs do where, long after the last line has been breathlessly sung, you still think about the words, and the thoughts they leave in your mind. And in a strange and unexpected way it makes you understand and appreciate your own love story better, and more. A good song has the power of making you feel all woozy and mushy and grateful to have someone to love and who loves your right back. It is a personal experience always. Don’t ask me how or why, it is just is.
18. Make time for what you choose to have in your life.
Nothing comes from nothing. If you want intimacy and close ties with your loved one, spend time with him/her. Lots of time. Talk, and laugh, and build memories together. There are no shortcuts here.
19. Fan an interest in what your man does. You can drift apart if you have nothing in common.
20. Spirituality is important. Do not underestimate that. I will not be preachy here but suffice to say that making God a part of your marriage makes it more than just a little bit great.
21. For those with children: Do not be a great mother at the expense of being a great wife. You should not expend so much energy on the children that you do not have any left for your spouse.
22. Have loving conversations. Always.
23. Be affectionate, encouraging, and warm.
24. Do not be too breathless with life. Watch your pace. Physical exhaustion from all of life’s busyness will zap the romance.
25. Do not sweat the small stuff. Period. Really. It just is not worth it.
Lastly, for now at least, always hold hands. Under the table, when you are walking side by side, when you sleep at night. Hold hands forever and ever. There is something about intertwined fingers that is pure, and sweet.
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