Unattended, even the most loving relationship can grow stale. Repetition brings on boredom. Doing the same things, traveling to the same vacation spots, eating at the same restaurants all dull the shared experience because there is nothing new .
What keeps a relationship vital and alive? When a couple investigates new and different projects, activities, skills, interests – and can share the exciting energy that comes from experiencing something new.
I’m big on planning vacations which take us to new countries and new experiences. But I have to give credit to my partner and wife, Lou, for finding us new projects and new interests that become part of our life together. A year ago we received a rock covered bird house as a gift from my daughter. Lou loved the item so much that she researched how it was made and actually began to buy the supplies for making one. I, who love jig saw puzzles, found it fascinating too. For over a year now we have decorated bird houses with rocks, gems, crystals and charms. Then we had to find a place to sell them, and that led to craft fairs, where people oo’d and aa’d over our birdhouses and even bought a few!
Our latest newly added interest is pickleball. Lou and our friend Cindy tried it a couple of times and then roped me into playing with them. Tennis lessons, from when I was 12, kicked back in and now I’m an enthusiastic participant. While we share aches and pains from the unaccustomed activity, we laugh at ourselves and then head back out to play either on the courts or on the street in front of our house. Whichever is easier.
During our most recent trip to Florida, Lou found a kite that had become entrangled and abandoned. She restored the kite to working order and flew it happily on the beach. We bought another kite and felt like children – happy and free and having a blast. My sister says that Lou has brought out the child in me, and she has!
Then there is the volunteering that we do, also initiated by Lou. Our two cairn terriers are pet therapy dogs and we take them to a memory care center to bring a sparkle of recognition back into the resident’s eyes. We volunteer weekly at a cancer center doing Reiki on cancer patients and survivors. We also provide support and comfort for end of life situations. These experiences always give us a renewed appreciation for our lives, our health and our togetherness.
Lou and I have been together for 16 years and in that time we’ve added many new things to our life to our life. First it was kayaking and then that turned into kayak-camping where we pack our sleeping bags, camp stove and groceries into our kayaks and paddle across the lake to some remote and idyllic spot where we enjoy nature at its best.
We’re tried classes in painting with acrylics, glass blowing and music lessons. We’ve gone on hikes to find petroglyphs. In Sedona we sought out the Palatki Indian ruins and their rock art alcoves.We traveled to Canyon de Chelly to view the rock art there with a guide. We searched out cave paintings in Uluru, Australia. And always, we look for rocks, crystals and charms to put on our rock covered birdhouses.
It’s the diversity and the new additions to our lives that have sustained and enriched our relationship. While I think shared interests are important to a relationship, I think newly discovered interests are even more important in keeping the relationship vital and alive and loving.
The key to happiness is: Someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to.
Sabra House, LCSW