Making Love Everyday: Foundations

In my previous post I introduced the idea of making love everyday and gave a few simple suggestions as to where you can begin.  If you haven’t read Making Love Everyday yet, I recommend reading it first so that you have the background for what I’m trying to accomplish in this post.  In this post, I will begin to discuss how to make love everyday by addressing the the most important ingredient in this process.  It is as significant to making  love everyday as flour is to bread. 

Before I can reveal what this “key ingredient” is, I need to give some explanation.  Much of the relationship advise you find out there focuses on specific skills and actions.  Many people buy book after book looking for the one self-help solution that will change their world.  In truth, much of what is contained in these books is great information.  Unfortunately, those reading the books often find themselves frustrated when, after pouring over the information and feeling inspired to achieve new levels of greatness, the changes don’t happen.  There is a bushel of reasons for why this is, but I am going to focus on the area that seems to be addressed the least.  It is also the key ingredient I referred to earlier.  This mystical solution is simply this… being present in the relationship.  No change can happen without the presence of mind and emotion required to make it happen.

In order to explain what exactly being present in the relationship means, I’d like to tell a little story.  In my work, I spend a good deal of time on the road.  As I am taking these long drives, it is a regular practice of mine to take the most direct route possible, set the cruise control, and before long, be completely zoned out.  I am usually in deep thought about something during the time, but I often awaken from this trance and realize I have driven a hundred miles without the slightest memory of any scenery I passed, the cars on the road, or even when I changed lanes to pass.  It becomes very obvious to me that it was not just the car that was on cruise control.  The last thing I would ever say about myself in those situations is that I am present. 

However, there are other times when I am present while driving.  I was recently caught in a major snow storm while driving.  The snow was coming down very hard.  So much so that there were times when I literally could see nothing but white.  I knew that if I was not very careful, I could easily go off the road.  I became hypervigilant of everything around me.  I was aware of every bump, every potential obstacle, every car, and the slightest slip in the tires.  I thought deliberately about every move I made, focusing intently on staying safe.  I can guarantee you, I was very present in that situation.  In this case, my whole motivation for staying present was simply self-preservation.  By the time I arrived at my destination the muscles in my neck and shoulders felt as though they were tight enough to snap.

There is one other situation in which I am present while driving, but that has a very different effect.  This is when I turn off the cruise control, open my eyes to the scenery around me, and just allow myself to drink it all in.  I become aware of the colors, the scents, unique features of buildings I pass and every other detail my senses can detect.  I feel very much a part of the scene around me, and I feel at peace.  This, to me, is the very essence of being present.

Now, what does all this mean to relationships?  To begin with, consider a couple of questions…  How often are you in cruise control in your relationship?…  How many days pass with you going about your routine in a semi-robotic fashion without giving any thought to what you are doing to  make love that day?  If you’re like most people, this probably happens fairly regularly, if not constantly.  We become consumed by the routine of life, just passing through each day as methodically as the one before.  For many the most attention given to the relationship is more in the form of trying to avoid conflinct than it is in making love.  Of course, avoiding conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if your goal in doing so is to maintain the status quo, what you are really doing is working to keep that cruise control on. 

Our goal in relationships should never be the status quo.  A good synonymn for status quo when it comes to relationships is stagnation.  We use the word stagnant to describe such things as a pond that has been sitting untouched by rain or outside influences.  It becomes overgrown with slime and algae, and looks and smells like a big pot of rancid spinach soup.  Stagnant is also a great word to describe what happens to relationships that are on cruise control.  They are boring, lifeless and overgrown with unresolved baggage.  To put it simply, they stink. 

The good news is that all you have to do to get rid of the stagnation in your relationship is to turn off the cruise control.  As my little story depicted, there are two ways to do this.  The first is by driving into the problems head-on.  You don’t avoid conflict at all.  You become hypervigilant of the dangerous territory you are treading in and hope you can stay safe.  You will definitely stir up the pot with this approach, but it will likely become very stressful and could potentially end in disaster.  Needless to say, I don’t recommend this approach.

The second method is to consciously turn off the cruise control and allow your mind, body, and senses to soak in the wonders of your spouse.  It is a regular habit of mine to “soak in the scenery” so to speak, by simply watching my wonderful wife as she goes about her normal activities.  I think about all the little ideosycrosies she has that I adore.  I reflect on how deeply I respect the amazing qualities she has, and all she does, intentionally or not, to make me happy.  Much like my experience when I turn off the cruise control in my car, I feel a deep sense of love and peace.  When I am in this state, there is nothing I want more than her happiness, and I go out of my way to bring this to her.  I am completely present in our relationship. 

It is very important to understand that turning off the cruise control is not simply something that happens.  There is no particular event that will magically cause this to happen.  It is a literal conscious choice everyday, but just like anything else in life, it can be made a habit.  Begin by giving yourself some type of reminder that you will see throughout the day.  There is a simple trick that can work very well for that.  I call it memory tagging.  All you do is focus on a particular object and say in your mind what you want it to remind you of when you see it.  You can choose an object in your home, draw a small letter on the nuckle of your index finger, or use your wedding ring for this.  When you do this, you literally tag the object (or symbol) with a reminder.  Now, each time you see that reminder, take a moment to reflect on how present you are.  Open up your eyes to the wonders of your spouse.  Finally, express what you see to them, and act on your desires to make love with your spouse.  You can feel all the love and respect in the world, but if they do not feel that from you through words and actions, it may as well not exist.

So now, off you go with a new level of insight and understanding.  Turn off the cruise control, wipe the dust off your relationship, be present, and make the love you want in your relationship.

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 12:44 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Matt!!!
    Holy smokes! You are one very insightful guy. I think I might need to come back so that I can see what else you can teach me. Thanks!!! 🙂

  2. LOVE this article, Matt! What a great reminder of what we all need to do: -make- love in our relationships by living in the present and expressing that love through word and action. Time for me to get to work! :0)

  3. I love stuff like this…to kick me in the butt and remind me what’s most important in my relationship!


    • I’m glad I could be of help. I think every relationship needs a good kick in the rear every once in a while, just to keep things lively!


  4. Great blog idea. I’m visiting from Wixom Zoo. I know that some personalities are more likely to put forth effort period, in any situation. And others are likely to put forth effort under certain conditions. And yet others are likely to never put forth any effort at all. People get married for different reasons, not just to each other, but different marriages work with completely different dynamics.

    You know, marriage, why it works for some people and not others, is a fascinating study. I know one couple who had a 4 year-engagement where they lived across the country from each other and only saw each other MAYBE MAYBE 4 weeks out of the year. And then when they got married almost immediately started to sleep in separate bedrooms. And on their family vacations the one plans the entire vacation and they might not even engage in the same activities during that vacation. But they are really happy with their arrangment. It meets their needs. There is no animosity between them.

    On the other hand, that type of relationship would be a complete failure for me. I’m very attached to my husband and he to me. We have a totally different dynamic and anything less wouldn’t work for us.

    It’s just so interesting.

    • I completely agree with you, Heatherlyn, marriage is a fascinating thing to learn about. In the case of your friends you mentioned, it sounds like they are better described as business partners rather than marriage partners. I’ve worked with couples in that situation many times, and there is usually much more hurt than what they let others know about. Couples can be absolute masters at putting on a happy face. They truely may not have animosity between them because that is the type of relationship they have resigned themselves to have, but it does not mean that they are not experiencing a very empty hole that can only be completely filled by closeness with their partner. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that both of them are very involved in their careers, friends and/or hobbies. They are likely so involved in these things because they are trying to fill that whole they feel with something else. The only problem is, it never quite works, no matter how hard they try to convince themselves it does. It is definitely true that there is no single picture of what a successful marriage looks like, but there is also no taking away the most basic of human needs… to be loved, and to feel that love through experiences of closeness. Your friends may have a great business relationship, but I would have to sadly say that it is not much of a marital relationship.

      Thanks for your comments and for sharing the experience of your friends. I’d love to hear more from you.


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