It has been 18 years since my husband Shmuel and I lived in Stuttgart, Germany, and last week was the first time we have gone back. Celebrating 33 years of marriage was a good reason to go on a romantic trip.
Awash in nostalgia and good memories, we traveled for a week, visiting the house we once lived in, the farmers markets we once shopped in, and the beautiful towns (such as Tübingen, the extraordinary place you see in the picture) where we used to spend our weekends.
This trip was a good opportunity to reflect.
I told Shmuel that I was planning to share relationship advice in my next blog, and I asked him, “What is the one thing that has kept us together for so many years?”
I didn’t accept his response of “I don’t know” and pushed him to think harder. (He was more into the Mercedes and Porsche cars we saw around us—after all, Stuttgart is the headquarter for both—than he was in answering my questions.) Determined, I brought up some ideas, but the maximum I got from him was, “yes,” “sure,” and “that’s right,” with an attitude of whatever you say, honey, just leave me alone.
The two words I was able to get out of him were “adventure” and “curiosity.” Shmuel said that we have always lived life as an adventure, traveling, trying new things, and bringing a sense of curiosity to our lives. I agree. After all, we have lived in three countries, two states, 15 houses, and we have traveled the world together.
Relationship Advice #1: Bring curiosity and a sense of adventure into the relationship.
I texted our two adult children and asked them what relationship advice they would give someone based on how they see our marriage. Politely, they congratulated us again for our wedding anniversary and ignored my question.
I didn’t give up on my quest to get some external wisdom. I texted my two best girlfriends, who know me inside and out and have seen me through my lowest moments.
“What is the one thing that has kept Shmuel and I together for 33 years?” I asked.
My first bestie said, “Your friendship, love, and mutual respect.”
My second bestie said, “You!” (Don’t tell Shmuel that she gave me the credit, and I hope that he doesn’t read this paragraph when he posts the blog on the website…) She remarked on my positive attitude and my ability to navigate the relationship with awareness and openness.
Determined for more, I did what I usually do when I’m looking for insight. I took the question to my self-Reiki and meditation practice and asked for guidance.
Here is what I got.
Relationship Advice #2: Create relationships outside the relationship.
At the beginning of our relationship, I believed that Shmuel needed to be my best friend, that I should share everything with him.
The older and more mature I get, the more I realize that maintaining a good friendship with your partner doesn’t mean telling him everything.
There are times when I choose to call one of my best friends or share my thoughts with other like-minded women, accepting that women and men are wired differently. You can feel hugged, fully seen, and loved when sharing with a female friend, rather than your partner, how guilty or afraid you feel as a mom or what an interesting observation you’ve noticed about your sex life.
Relationship Advice #3: Nurture the oneness, not only the togetherness.
It takes two to tango. Maintaining a good relationship requires a lot of work on the “togetherness” part. Listening to each other. Communicating. Going on dates even when life is busy. Parenting can become a big part of your identity as a couple.
But nurturing the togetherness is not enough. You must make room for YOU. Crafting alone time into your day, every day. Being true to yourself. Respecting your needs. Listening to your inner goddess and loving her.
Nurturing your oneness means setting boundaries and accepting that your partner might get disappointed. You can’t live bravely unless you accept that your partner might feel disappointed from time to time.
Relationship Advice #4: Balance having a strong voice with being loving and compassionate.
Even the best marriages or relationships have low moments. Conflict, distance, and tension are simply part of the deal. Making “being right” more important than being happy or making peace is a pattern that many couples get stuck in.
As a speaker, a mentor, and a guide who teaches women to stop hiding in the back and to stand up and roar I feel responsible to mirror this truth:
Your relationship can easily turn into a war zone if you speak with a strong voice but forget to honor your core values, such as kindness, love, and compassion. (Those are a few of my core values. Yours might be different.)
Choose your battles carefully. Know your non-negotiables. When your partner crosses the line, set boundaries, stand up, and roar. But don’t forget to balance criticism with compliments. Ask for what you need but share appreciation and give the same compassion, love, and kindness that you wish to receive.
Creating a long-lasting relationship takes work on both sides. You can’t control your partner’s choices, but you can accept responsibility for your own.
Improving your love relationship starts with you—your awareness, your openness, and your willingness to be the change.
If you need help, it would be my honor to become your mentor and your guide. Send me a message and we’ll schedule a time to talk.