06 December 2012

Be Unpredictable

If you want a happy marriage:
When married couples reach the two-year mark, many mistake the natural shift from passionate love to compassionate love for incompatibility and unhappiness. For many, the possibility that things might be different — more exciting, more satisfying — with someone else proves difficult to resist. Injecting variety and surprise into even the most stable, seasoned relationship is a good hedge against such temptation. Key parties — remember “The Ice Storm”? — aren’t necessarily what the doctor ordered; simpler changes in routine, departures from the expected, go a long way.

In a classic experiment conducted by Arthur Aron and his colleagues, researchers gave upper-middle-class middle-aged couples a list of activities that both parties agreed were “pleasant” (like creative cooking, visiting friends or seeing a movie) or “exciting” (skiing, dancing or attending concerts) but that they had enjoyed only infrequently. Researchers instructed each couple to select one of these activities each week and spend 90 minutes doing it together. At the end of 10 weeks, the couples who engaged in the “exciting” activities reported greater satisfaction in their marriage than those who engaged in “pleasant” or enjoyable activities together.
This dovetails rather nicely with two of Heartiste’s laws: 1) be unpredictable and 2) don’t be boring. Now, don’t go overboard and constantly be looking for non-stop excitement like you’re trying to act out your own version of Crank. But don’t settle into boring routines over and over. Shake things up from time to time. Do what Athol Kay recommends and mix alpha and beta.

For men, this would generally mean taking the lead on a lot of things and planning out exciting activities. Pro-tip: try things outside of your general comfort zone, or things that are generally known to get your blood pumping. Things like skydiving, bungee-jumping, skinny-dipping, camping, etc. all introduce elements of uncertainty and thrill, to varying degrees.

On a day-to-day basis, though, look for little ways to shake up your routine. Obviously, those who work 9 to 5 jobs five or six days a week, or those with kids, will find that routine is pretty essential for making it through the day. But don’t be a slave to it. Suggest random outings for dinner, or surprise her with random naughty gifts. Shower with her. You get the idea. You don’t have to subvert your daily routine to make a big difference, just shake it up a little.

Also, try not to fall into repetitive conversations. Talking about the same old things day after day is boring (but I could be projecting). Yes, there are some things that you should probably ask about on a daily basis (for example, if your girlfriend’s mother is battling cancer, you may want to ask her about how that’s going on a fairly regular basis); there are some things you can’t help but talk about on a regular basis, especially if they relate to your general routine. But, when possible, avoid being repetitive. Talk about interesting things (hint: not work). Know interesting things. Read, watch interesting movies, watch interesting TV, learn how to be introspective, learn how to observe, learn how to be funny.

Don’t be boring.

For ladies, try things that are out of your general comfort zone. Like lingerie. Or sex toys. Or naughty games. Or handcuffs. Handcuffs are exciting. Doesn’t matter who’s wearing them.

Find ways to spice up your daily routine. If you’re a SAHM, try making a special dish that he really likes. And surprise him by serving said special dish while wearing nothing but an apron and a smile. Write him a naughty note. Touch him on the penis.

Likewise, avoid falling into repetitive and boring conversations. Talk about interesting things (hint: not petty drama). Know interesting things. Read, watch interesting movies, watch interesting TV, learn how to be introspective, learn how to observe, don’t be narcissistic.

Don’t be boring.

For both men and women, it’s dangerous to become too complacent with routines because falling into the same old routine day after day can stunt your personal development. When all you do after every day of work is eat the same old junk and watch the same old TV shows, you aren’t developing at all. You’re getting locked in a holding pattern where you simply do the same old thing and talk about the same old nonsense. Twenty years from now, you should not be the same person as you are today. You need to grow, you need to develop: emotionally, intellectually, socially, even spiritually.

So read good books. If you must watch TV and movies, don’t watch trash; watch things that are thought-provoking and entertaining. Listen to good music, of all genres. Expand your horizons. Learn new skills. Become more self-sufficient. Don’t be content with junk food, garbage TV, and repetitive conversations. Dissatisfaction with your marriage is ultimately dissatisfaction with yourself, so if you’re constantly looking to improve yourself, you will, as a natural consequence, improve your marriage.

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