I’m a hopeless romantic — what can I say? I love Valentine’s Day! (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme.) I really think it’s sweet to have a day dedicated to love. However — I know many of you will say — why not be sweet all year long. Well…true. So for those people — I resisted the urge to be extra sappy with this post and instead decided to be realistic.
I enlisted the help of Susanne Alexander — she’s a relationship and marriage coach. Her guest post is all about how list making will help you have a much better relationship. Here’s her take on lists for love:
Making Five Relationship Lists and Checking Them Twice
by Susanne M. Alexander
When it comes to relationships, we have more of a tendency to “think” with our longing hearts and hot hormones than with our minds. Leaving the mind out of the mix, however, causes problems. Have you seen the divorce statistics?
With the mind engaged as part of the romance process, lists become very valuable. You can even pop your list into a spreadsheet format and track your observations! Making lists and engaging in observation with your partner can slow the pace of your romance down a bit. It takes a few months to see what’s important about another person and how you interact together.
The initial and most vital list to make relates to character. It’s a good idea to be very familiar with your own character strengths first. Then, you need to be in full activity and observation mode with your partner.
List Number 1: Write down the qualities that are most important to you in a partner. Consider such ones as:
Once you have your list, begin observing words and actions to see if the qualities are truly strengths. Ensure that you see him/her in action with other people, not just you. Romance can sometimes have someone act especially well with you for a short period of time.
List Number 2: Write down what is most important to you to have in your interactions as a couple. Consider such items as:
• Finding similar things funny
• Ability to work smoothly together (cooking, yard work, finances)
• Compatible money management habits
• Enjoying some leisure activities in common
• Similar values and spiritual practices
List Number 3: Deal with the difficult things. What are you absolutely unwilling to have in a partner? Here is a list of some behaviors that might make you pause and think about what your partner would be like to live with long-term:
• Dirty living habits
• Heavy drinking and illegal drug use
• Violent temper
List Number 4: Consciously think about what you want to make sure you do together before making a lifelong commitment. The goal is to know each other thoroughly. You might consider such items as:
• Share details about finances
• Spend quality time with family members
• Pray and worship together
• Shop together
• Travel together
List Number 5: Now it gets fun! List what you really love about your partner:
• Likes to spend time with his/her family
• Is playful when we are out on dates
• Uses manners when interacting with me and others
• Is loving to his/her children or the children of others
• Helps me lighten up and laugh
Relationship success is very linked to involving your mind along with your emotions, spirit, and body. When you use all of them, you are much more likely to make a high quality partner choice.
Susanne M. Alexander is a relationship and marriage coach with a specialty in character and couples. Her coaching, speaking, and publishing company is Marriage Transformation. Susanne is the author of a number of books, including Becoming Character Partners, All-in-One Marriage Prep: 75 Experts Share Tips and Wisdom to Help You Get Ready Now (www.allinonemarriageprep.com), and A Perfectly Funny Marriage (cartoon book).