This is an unusual post for me but it's the result of a bit of an epiphany I recently had. There is a way to optimize your personal relationships so that they do better and both parties are happier for it. Don't worry, this doesn't dehumanize and rationalize emotion nor is this a post about how to hack a dating site to get the perfect mate. Every relationship has it's ups and downs and in the name of self improvement and growth, I'm constantly looking at ways that I can be a better husband, confidant, friend, and sounding board for my wife. I have been guilty of "coasting" at times and expecting the relationship to take care of itself a bit but that simply doesn't sustain itself. Relationships take work and unfortunately when people get overwhelmed with all the stresses of life, many people will choose to manage their inbox before they put effort towards managing their relationships. Just as with everything else, I try to break things down and optimize them so that we can do what we want, and be happy at the end of the day.
After a VERY long time of admittedly not understanding the differences between the way men and women approach relationships and think in general, I have boiled it down to this. The whole point of an intimate relationship, is to feel CONNECTED. A connection that bonds you to someone in a way that is stronger than any other bond you have ever experienced. The more connected the more you can feel that person's joy and sadness, excitement and fear. It's how we can become bigger than ourselves and feel a greater energy than we ourselves possess.
So you have to ask yourself in any situation, whether you are holding hands as you walk down the street, laugh at each others jokes, or throw plates at each other's heads...is this strengthening our connection or is it weakening our connection. That's the key. If it's the latter you want to do anything you can to change course, reset, whatever it takes to energize that bond again. Remain present, don't think about the next argument you want to make, or how the thing your partner is saying reminds you of a time when that happened to you. Get present and stay present. Listen. Really listen. THEN decide how you can make that connection stronger. Even if one of you is being aggressive, there is such a thing as inclusive aggression where you are venting, or bring the other into your sphere so they can experience it as well and you have to realize, that's actually a beautiful thing because YOU are the one they are sharing it with and that connects you. Don't think about blame or what you think they meant when they said that thing. Keep it simple, take a breath and just think about staying connected.
Now I realize this is not the typical Less Doing kind of post but the truth is that anything that makes us better, makes us a better. Having a relationship that you are not actively trying to make better will only serve to make you weaker and it will spill over to the other parts of your life, whether it's as a business person, a parent, an athlete, or even a friend. Everything can be made more optimal, it's just a matter of how you frame the challenge.