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Jila, my girlfriend, gave me a gift and exclaimed, “Happy 17th!”
I was speechless. It wasn’t my birthday, but I thanked her for the shirt, and asked, “What makes today so special?”
“It’s the 17th!”
“Oh, yeah. Right!” I thought it was a Persian thing and gave her a hug and a kiss.
A month later I was again greeted with “Happy 17!” This time I received a pair of shorts.
“Is this some Iranian holiday?”
“No!” She laughed. “It’s our holiday.”
“It is?” I was confused.
“Yes, we met on the 17th. Don’t you remember?”
Now I do. Every month we celebrate. I give her flowers, plants, or something that holds meaning for her. Once, when she got a flat tire, I bought her a new one. “Happy 17th, Jila!” Okay, it was the 15th, but I covered my base that month.
Couples committed to a lasting relationship need to expend energy to keep romance alive. It takes thought to appreciate each other, to be polite and respectful, and to think before saying something hurtful. Romantic bliss cannot be found in grandma’s memoirs; it’s an individual search that’s fueled by original ideas.
During the primary stages of love and romance, a fire brigade would have trouble dousing the inferno of passions. After time, that special sizzle can either be smothered by boredom or enlivened with imagination.
A lot can be done to avoid the doldrums of routine. Matt and Carole, a New City, New York couple set aside 30 minutes of uninterrupted time sharing sexual fantasies. They talk for 20 minutes on their plush bedroom carpeting. Matt says, “I make up fantasies letting my imagination soar.” They don’t touch. They agree on a fantasy as their “mental foreplay” of the week. Then they compose an erotic story where they are the actors.
Carole explained, “Once we met by chance on a desolate beach. We united in lust on a beach towel thrown on the living room rug between two couches. We pretended we were hidden amongst sand dunes and made passionate love.”
With a devilish grin Matt said, “My favorite was on an intergalactic slave ship. I was the slave and Carole was the green skinned alien taskmaster. We went to a Halloween store, found costumes, worked out a mini screen play, and just had fun.”
Carole seemingly stared into space. Her emerald eyes sparkled. After a long pause she said, “Whenever I see that leopard skin costume hanging in my closet I lust for him.”
Columnist Kwame DeRoche maintains a lusty relationship with his wife by keeping an open mind. This is one couple unafraid of trying new things and going to new places. “Once in awhile my wife and I will go out and pretend not to know each other. We act like we just met and start flirting.”
We are taught to respect our teachers and doctors providing them with special treatment. Shouldn’t we do the same for our loved ones? Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of “The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again,” believes we should. Tina said, “We say our wedding vows any time we have an argument or have money problems. This reminds us what we’re doing together.” They also leave little notes around the house. “I was doing a T.V. interview, and when I came home my vitamins were set out for me with a little note that said, ‘Welcome home, my shining star!’” She often writes notes to Richard in soap on the bathroom mirror.
Handling adversity with a sense of humor strengthens the bond between couples. A special event could go wrong, but with a sense of whimsy a couple can make it memorable. When Ailina and Mark spent their first Thanksgiving together as a family, Mark was in charge of the turkey. Armed with his mother’s recipe, he began cooking the bird two hours before dinner. When it was time to sit down to eat, the turkey was still raw. Ailina said, “We opened our first Thanksgiving dinner sans turkey.” But they enjoyed the trimmings and got to the bird for dessert.
After the September 11 catastrophe, Tina and Richard were reminded about the shortness of life and the need to live each moment to the fullest. Tina said, “We never know how suddenly life can be lost. We try to cherish each day together. We’re interested in each other’s lives, thoughts and opinions. We support each other and look to each other for advice and discussion.” Though they take their relationship seriously, they have lots of fun and laughter.
A balance of intense passion and emotional stability are needed to maintain a long lasting relationship. Couples with children need to have a special time to themselves to enrich their relationship and remind each other why they chose marriage. Mark and Ailina are the parents of three little girls. They celebrate “Us Time” and “That Time” to keep their relationship strong.
When their daughters are asleep “Us Time” awakens their union. On one memorable celebration Mark made a “mystery trip” to the store to celebrate Ailina’s first published fiction piece. He returned with several bags filled with goodies. “We began the night with a bottle of pink champagne and my favorite appetizer, shrimp cocktail. We ate cheese pizza, watched a Stephen King thriller, and ate chocolate truffle cake. By the time we finished celebrating, the sun was popping up.”
There are times that couples feel a need to get away from it all and just spend time alone together. With kids, it’s tough. But if you have Grandma living nearby or another close relative or friend, celebrate “That Time.” On one occasion Mark and Ailina dropped off their girls at Gran’s house and then just drove. They chose a direction, North, and followed the highway as far as they could go in the allotted time. Without a map or a goal and a tank filled with gas they drove to Hot Springs, Arkansas, Bill Clinton’s hometown. “We got a room for the night, and the next day we roamed around town taking in all the sites and loitering on the main.”
No relationship can sustain a constant flow of molten passion. It takes work, commitment, and a sense of humor. Philadelphia based psychotherapist, Laurie Suttenberg said, “In a long term marriage or relationship it’s within the daily task of living that the relationship is renewed. These daily tasks communicate respect, caring, honor, and dignity.”
Jila and I have been celebrating “Happy 17th” for six years. Besides the little gifts, we relate to each other with honesty, sincerity, and humor. When we reached our two-year anniversary I took her to a romantic hideaway on Mullholland Drive, near Hollywood in California. Under a star filled night with the lights of the San Fernando Valley spread before us I said, “We have been together for two years. I want you in my life forever.” Instead of saying “Happy 17!” I asked, “Will you marry me?”
She said, “I have to think about it.” But that weekend we shopped for rings.
Happy 17th- Side Bar
Ways to Keep Your Romance Alive
After the inferno of passion has diminished, there are many ways couples can keep the flame of their romance alive. Here are a few ideas.
* Share and enact sexual fantasies.
* Pick an anniversary date and make it an intimate event.
* Try new activities that you’ve never shared before as a couple.
* Travel to a place you can explore together.
* Write a love note.
In any relationship, a positive attitude is a top priority. Keep an open mind and maintain a sense of humor. No one is perfect, and that includes you. So be flexible, and be able to communicate respect, dignity, and honor to your mate.
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