Other Actions That Deliver Strong Messages
Every new day brings another chance to show someone how much you care, not with lip service, but with actions. You can start with the smallest act of thoughtfulness, like bringing your spouse a cup of coffee in the morning, and watch your fondness for each other as it builds over time. Making a point to do the little things that make someone else's day better is investing in your love account. It will grow, with interest.
We've all heard the expression, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It's easy to sermonize when the subjects are romance and love, without ever practicing what we preach. The end result is a series of missed opportunities. To avoid this pitfall, a good rule of thumb is, “It's impossible to kill someone with kindness!”
The rest of this chapter is devoted to romantic actions. Some may not seem directly linked to time in the bedroom or some other passionate moment. But if you think of a romantic life as one spent trying to create a stronger bond with the one you love, these items are cornerstones of great relationships. From there, the sparks fly more easily and a life in love is more likely.
The late 1990s brought the phrase random acts of kindness into our national lingo. It's a great idea to do something nice just for the heck of it. In a marriage or loving relationship, random acts of kindness should be deliberate, routine, and practiced daily. There is no more powerful way to tell a lover he or she is important than to act lovingly without expecting anything in return, even if it's just remembering to put the toilet seat down.
Kindness says in no uncertain terms that you care. In a world where we often mistake bravado for masculinity, gestures of gentle affection are among the most masculine things a guy can do. Kindness is a spiritual virtue as well. Truthfully, there is no downside to being considerate of another human being, especially when it is someone you truly love. As a result, it's romantic to unload the dishwasher when it's not your turn, to volunteer to take the dog for a walk on a cold winter night, to pick up dirty clothes without giving it a second thought, and to help out whenever you can.
Show Your Love with Random (and Not-So-Random) Acts of Kindness
Start her car and warm it up on a cold day.
Field a phone call from someone he doesn't want to talk to.
Bring her a bowl of hot soup when she has a cold.
Listen to him without interrupting or giving advice.
Offer to take the kids to school so she can sleep in.
Draw her a bath. Bathe her and towel her dry. Use a warm towel that you heated while she was soaking in the tub.
Do the laundry when you know your partner is worn out. Fold it and iron it.
Manners and Courtesy
Some manners should be observed as often as possible. Saying, “Excuse me” when you let out a little burp is always in good taste. Replying, “Bless you” when someone sneezes costs nothing and is a way of being pleasant. In general, exhibiting good manners when you're with your partner or spouse is simply showing respect.
Remember, manners go beyond the physical to include not asking inappropriate questions (such as, “How much do you earn?”).
Dating manners are especially helpful as a romance blooms. You don't want to put up with someone who has impolite language or sloppy dining habits, do you? As you size up a potential partner, you're going to notice these things.
Meanwhile, it seems as if manners are a little more complicated in this generation. For instance, we struggle with questions like these:
On a date, who pays for what? How do you decide when you're going Dutch?
When a man asks out a woman who has children (divorced or widowed), is he also offering to pay for a baby-sitter?
How do you introduce someone you're living with to nosy people who should mind their own business?
What is the correct way to tell a guy his fly is unzipped when you're out on a date? How is it that you noticed in the first place?
What is the correct way to tell a woman you can see her breast because her shirt is open a little more than she intended, or should you just avert your eyes? How is it that you noticed in the first place?
These issues can be troubling. They make us glad we've been off the marketplace for over twenty years. Still, we want to be able to give quality advice to our kids, and to you. So, here goes:
Talk about going Dutch before you actually meet on the night of the date. Go with what feels right. If the woman asks the man out, she should not be surprised if he asks, “Are you buying?” Guys who aren't comfortable with being that forward should bring along enough money, just in case, and then follow her lead.
The guy should offer to pay for the sitter and the woman can accept, agree to split the cost, or decline, depending on her financial circumstances and what makes her comfortable.
For introducing a live-in lover, we like, “This is my friend, Julie.”
For the guy with the open fly, just say, “Ummm …” and point shyly with a nice smile. How you discovered the problem is your business.
For the lady whose breast is revealed, point to your own chest, say something like, “I think you're unbuttoned.” Then smile and avert your eyes until the distraction is resolved. Once again, how you discovered the problem is your concern.
There are some manners that are just common courtesy. For instance, the man should walk on the outside, by the street, as you head down the sidewalk. “Please” and “thank you” should flow freely in any relationship. The man shouldn't always buy. The woman shouldn't always be the one to fetch the drinks and snacks. In other words, don't confuse manners with being nice. Don't get stuck in traditional gender roles, even though you may not abandon all of what they offer. Develop your own mix of doing pleasant favors for each other and remember the basics you learned as a child. If you didn't learn as a child, you can quickly pick up everything you need to know by watching classy adults.
Also, play the flip side. What does being discourteous say about your feelings? If someone can't take the time to behave appropriately, that person probably has little regard for you. It's certainly the opposite of being romantic. After all, there's nothing worse than inviting a man or woman to stay the night and have him or her sneak out before you wake up. When you don't want to face that person in the morning, he or she shouldn't be there in the first place.