Updated: Sep 16, 2022
Now, the Do's
Last time we talked about how crucial daily maintenance was if you want a happy, lasting relationship.
Now here are the 10 essential Do’s.
The 10 things you should aim at doing every day, just the way you try every day to brush and floss, to eat healthful food, and to get some exercise in. These 10 Do’s aren’t random nice things. They’re the fruit of forty years of research and clinical experience. They are what gets normal couples over the finish line in a happy state.
Let me be clear what I’m saying here. Some couples are so well matched and have such an easy time in their lives and have such amiable personalities that they’re going to sail through marriage. But most of us aren’t like that. We don’t always get along, our lives don’t always go well, and we can be grumpy and nervous people to deal with. Normal people.
For people like us, these 10 Do’s are essential. Take me in my relationship. It couldn’t be simpler: during the times when I—we—did these things, things have gone well in our relationship. During the times when I—we—haven’t done these 10 things consistently, things have gone badly.
Relationships are like gerbils: it doesn’t take a lot to keep them alive, but you have to do these things every day.
Now if you want to do a really good job of doing the Do’s, consult with your partner on each of these Do’s. For example, #5 on the list is be supportive. This is huge, but for it to work right you need to ask your partner what specifically you can do to “be supportive” these days. None of us know exactly how to be supportive without asking our partner what exactly that means for them.
And it’s the same for all the other Do’s on the list. It’s so SO much better to know from your partner exactly what to do than to stumble around in the dark with only your own dim idea of how to make each DO work for your partner.
Now as we think about this list of Do’s, there begins to be a revolution in our understanding of what love is. It’s not a feeling or an attitude or a talent or a passion. All that stuff is good, but all that stuff only gets you to the starting line. So what is love?
Love is like running a bakery. It’s about showing up every single day and doing all the things necessary to turn out the good things people want. In this case, the “people” is your partner. It’s about consistency of effort. It’s about not dropping the ball.
You can do this. Most bakers aren’t geniuses or supermen. They’re not even famous. But they get the job done by doing the Do’s and not doing the Don’ts. Every freakin’ day. And that makes them great.
That consistency can make your love great, too.
By the way, these lists of Do’s and Don’ts are just a small part of just one chapter of our super-important book The 10 Prescriptions to Heal Your Relationship, the first and only book that allows you to pinpoint why things aren’t going well in your relationship and then offers custom-tailored solutions for that particular issue. Revolutionary!
The two old photos above are of couples who loved each other and worked together. The painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in the first photo. And in the second the scientists Marie and Pierre Curie.