Many of our fathers, uncles and grandfathers knew very little about what it takes to create and sustain love and intimacy. For the most part, they didn’t need to know. For generations, perhaps from time immemorial, marriage was about “security, stability and raising kids.” Contrary to many beautiful poems and love stories, whether or not couples loved, or even liked each other, may not have been important.
But as women gained more freedoms over the years leading up to and into the 21st century, the basis of marriage changed.
In many parts of the world that change is still evolving.
Intimate relationships, especially marriages, became about meeting each other’s needs for “love and intimacy.”
You could spend months studying the how’s, when’s and why’s of that significant social and cultural change. And while there are many dimensions, for the most part, it’s because women were no longer trapped in unhappy relationships – unlike so many generations of women before them.
Increasingly, women had the freedom and resources to leave relationships and marriages in which they didn’t feel valued, respected, and loved.
But very few men naturally had the skills to sustain love and intimacy. That’s not because there was or is anything wrong with them; it’s just that these are skills few men ever had a chance to learn.
You can’t expect yourself or someone else to know something that was rarely, if ever, taught or modeled anymore than expecting someone to get dressed in an outfit they don’t have. (Good intentions are a valuable beginning. Adding practical, proven skills for sustaining intimacy is an invaluable addition.)
When you think about it, it makes sense that many men have struggled in love and marriage.
Men learn about marriage and relationships from what they saw from their own parents and grandparents. Men learned about being husbands mostly from their own fathers, uncles, and grandfathers.
Skills for sustaining love and intimacy also weren’t taught in school. More often, opposite skills were taught to help prepare men to succeed in their careers. Those skills are typically very different from the ones that prepare men to succeed in love.
The good news is that the skills for sustaining love and intimacy are not difficult to learn.
PAIRS Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 1983 with the mission of creating a safer, saner, more loving world, has helped tens of thousands of men (and women) learn to become better listeners, confide in loved ones, resolve differences so the relationship wins, understand emotions in themselves and others, and much more that offers opportunities for love, pleasure, happiness and success that earlier generations likely could not have imagined.
You may wonder, what do relationship skills have to do with creating a “safer, saner, more loving world.”
For us, the answer is clear.
When we have peace and love within ourselves and with the people closest to us, we have a better chance of being creative, productive, happy and successful in the areas of life that matter most. That offers a lifetime of meaningful, priceless rewards few of us would ever want to sacrifice.
Start learning tools for sustaining love and intimacy now by testing and developing your skills at apps.pairs.com. If you’re in a new relationship, PAIRS offers a guided self-discovery program to help couples learn more about themselves, each other, and strengthen their potential for lasting love.
(Excerpted from Chicago Tribune, March 26, 2013)
Seth Eisenberg of the PAIRS Foundation suggests that instead of stewing as Honey Boo Boo lights up a TV screen, couples and families could sharpen relationship-building skills:
Talking tips: This exercise lets one person express different aspects of a concern, say what he or she wants instead, and say it to someone who listens with empathy. Later they can talk about it, reverse roles or just thank each other for the new information.
Emptying the emotional jug: If someone is letting feelings show through sarcasm, criticism or withdrawing, that person is encouraged to express what is really going on. The listener asks a series of questions and thanks the speaker for confiding.
Daily temperature reading: Take 15 minutes each day to touch on five areas, in order: appreciations, new information, puzzles (things you’re wondering about), concerns with recommendations (focus on a behavior, and include a specific request for what you want instead), and wishes, hopes and dreams.