In the last two years, I have struggled.
Struggled with what I thought was a romantic blockade in my actions and thoughts.
I’ve asked myself:
“Why aren’t I more romantic? “
But what I have come to realise has been a revelation to me.
It is that my marriage and life with Kylie is richly romantic in ways that aren’t always seen and popularised.
And this morning on our 15th wedding anniversary, Kylie summed it up this way:
She desires my presence and not always presents.
We will always surprise each other with gifts and gestures, but as we’ve both discovered, our marriage has come to rest on the foundation of our ever-deepening friendship.
The one thing that we’ve noticed is that the flashy holidays, grand romantic gestures and other peacock-like activities aren’t what fuels our passion and keeps us together.
This is because the greatest generator of passion and excitement in our marriage is our friendship.
Our lives are beautifully simple and elegantly ordinary.
It is simple in that we are clearly focussed on our God, each other, the boys and on our own unique purpose.
And ordinary in that our daily activities are very normal and seemingly mundane.
But, predictable, simple and ordinary have been the fuel and foundation to our marriage over the last 15 years.
Over this time, I’ve learnt that although it may seem ordinary on the outside, this beautiful simplicity has been richly romantic and deeply passionate.
And as a husband MY single most romantic move has been:
My predictable presence and help in our daily lives.
In the book, Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work, John Gottman and Nan Silver say that, “large romantic gestures — in the form of expensive gifts and holidays aren’t needed when the daily routine of friendship is played out.
As a marriage researcher, Gottman studied hundreds of couples and has been able to predict trouble and ultimately divorce, in the way couples interact with each and most importantly, in the way that they fought.
This is because couples who have a strong friendship foundation — those who know each other intimately and actively live each day to please one another, showed two key characteristics which helped them move forward (but not always resolve their argument).
- Positive sentiment override — Within their marriage, their positive feelings and thoughts towards each other were set so high that the interruptions of life, did not shake them.
- Repair mechanisms — When arguments were occurring, Gottman noticed that couples who had a strong marriage built on a foundation of friendship had an inherent trait/behavioural mechanism that helped to simmer the argument down or diffuse it. It could be a shared saying or funny look or a soft touch which helps to slow the escalation of an argument and re-engage the friendship.
The question then is, “how do we develop an overwhelming positive sentiment to one another?”
The answer lies in the details of our daily lives — the simple, ordinary and seemingly mundane.
Friendships are grown each day and deepened in the ordinary details and activities of life.
From cooking breakfast for the kids, dropping them off at school, going to the dentist for a checkup, cleaning the house, attending to clients or patients, going to church on Sunday, watching the kids play at the park, gardening and then so much more, a deep and lasting romantic friendship is grown in these details.
The media, flashy friends, the Instagram world and “other people” are distractions to the beauty of normal lives.
My offering is that friendship is grown every day in these moments by simple intentional and uniquely personal actions.
The compounding effect of simple actions over a period of time is phenomenal.
I have found and seen simple actions such as these to be especially wonderful:
A soft touch and hug each morning.
The kiss “goodbye” and kiss “hello” received and given each day.
The regular shoulder massage and debrief at the end of the day.
The short prayer each morning as you leave for the day.
The text message to check in and to say “hi!”.
A note — short and sweet, for no other reason than to say “I love you”.
Actively listening and sitting together in quiet contemplation.
Making a cup of coffee for each other, sitting and enjoying it together
Work especially hard to bring joy to your spouse in the simple details of your life, because the greatest generator of passion in a marriage is your friendship.
Your friendship is everything — it is what brought you together, it is what you rely on in the “busy seasons” of life in raising children and building careers, it is what you look forward to enjoying more and more as life rewards you and will be what you cherish on your last day together on this earth.
Live intentionally in the simple details of your life.
Love always relentlessly.
Enjoy your health!
Dr. Jonathan Ramachenderan