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Table of Contents
Welcome to Date Night
The Conversations That Matter
- Every great love story is a never-ending conversation
- In the US, more than half of all marriages end in divorce
- Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts
- A lifetime of love is created every single day you are together
- Perfection is not the price of love — Practice is
- 8 topics that matter most to relationships:
- Trust and commitment
- Fun and adventure
- Growth and spirituality
NEVER TOO EARLY OR TOO LATE
- There is nothing we can measure about 2 separate individuals that can predict if they'll like one another, or be romantically attracted to one another
- We are, in fact, more attracted to many kinds of people who are very different from ourselves
- Staying in love takes a level of vulnerability that isn't always comfortable
- One of the great gifts of relationship and marriage (there are many) is the ability to see the world through the eyes of another person in a way we're almost never able to do with another human being
POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE
- The couples who are most likely to have happy marriages show the following qualities and characteristics when they talk about their relationship:
- The "positive switch" is all about how couple positively interpret their negative events and their partner's character — They maximize the positive and minimize the negative
- An overall perceived negativity will quickly erode a relationship
- Happy relationships aren't relationships where there is no fighting
- Happy couples are not so very different from unhappy couples; they are simply able to make repairs to their relationship easier and faster so they can get back to the joy of being together
THE BIGGER PICTURE
- Happy marriages or long-term relationships can significantly reduce depression, anxiety disorders, addictions, and antisocial behaviour, and reduce incidents of suicide
Your Date Night
- It's the small, positive things done often that make a true difference in relationships — Talking together at the end of each day, giving each other a kiss hello and goodbye
- Date nights should be a permanent part of a lifetime of love and connection — The goal is to have a special date once a week
WE MADE A PACT
- For the purposes of this book, a date is preplanned time where the two of you leave your work life and your work-in-the-home life, and spend a set amount of time focusing on each other, and really talking and listening to each other
- A date is a special time set aside for just the two of you to connect — Leave your electronics at home or turn them off and check only when the date is over
- There is more to your relationship than sharing a home or coparenting children — Remind yourselves that you are first and foremost friends and lovers
Date Night Obstacles
- A date night is more than an obligation, it's a commitment to your relationship and to your hopes for a happy marriage
- Unless someone is in the emergency room, make date night a "no matter what" event
- There are endless ways to spend time together without breaking the bank
- Trade children with other couples, so both couples could enjoy date nights
- See if a trusted family member or close friend will help you in the quest to spend sacred time together
- Look for inexpensive babysitters in your neighbourhood
- If you find a safe and reliable person to watch your children, you're helping them learn that other people, besides their parents, are trustworthy and reliable
- By showing your commitment to your relationship with your partner, you're nurturing your children by ensuring that they will be raised by parents in a healthy and stable relationship
A Few Guidelines
- The most important guideline for the eight dates is to have an open heart and mind, an attentive ear, and a true desire and curiosity to connect
- Reread the section "Speed Dating" of each chapter before your date
- Take with you the list of open-ended questions for that particular topic
- You can download all the exercises and open ended questions —> workman.com/eightdates
- Limit your alcohol or drug consumption on date night
- If your date will take place at a venue, make sure you can not only speak to each other freely, but also hear each other clearly
- Don't forget why you fell in love with each other, and most important, don't forget to laugh
The Four Skills of Intimate Conversation
Skill #1 — PUT INTO WORDS WHAT YOU ARE FEELING
- Try saying I feel...
- Now talk about WHY you have these feelings
- You can describe the events that led to the feeling, a story from childhood, an observation, or an insight or revelation that you've had
Skill #2 — ASK YOUR PARTNER OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS DURING AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION
Skill #3 — MAKE EXPLORATORY STATEMENTS TO HELP OPEN UP YOUR PARTNER'S FEELINGS AND NEEDS DURING AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION
Skill #4 — EXPRESS TOLERANCE, EMPATHY, AND UNDERSTANDING TOWARD YOUR PARTNER DURING AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION
The Art of Listening
- The questions above are half the equation... Listening is the all-important other half
- Listening is an action; you have to commit to it — And you can't do that if you don't get out of your head
- Show genuine interest and curiosity in what your partner is saying — Don't interrupt
- Don't assume you know what your partner is going to say next — Just LISTEN
- Remember it's open-ended questions that open the heart
- Your only goal is simply to listen and to try to understand
- Repeat back in your own words what you have heard your partner saying, and thus communicate validation
- Don't give advice unless your partner asks for it
Lean on Me: Trust & Commitment
- Positive things done often make the most difference and builds the cocoon of trust and safety in relationships
- In a committed relationship, you will both stop the world to try understand and ease each other's pain — This is partly why we get married, and this is partly why we love
- Making negative comparisons of our partners with other real or imagined alternative relationship partners (negative comps.) will result in betrayal
Discovering Your own Wonderland
- None of us has it all together, and none of us is without our idiosyncrasies or insecurities no matter how together we may appear
- Vulnerability creates trust, and trust is the oxygen your relationship needs to breathe
- Trust happens in the little moments when we show our partner we are there for them and they do the same for us
- Mutual trust rests in the belief that both of are thinking for two
When Trust Has Been Broken
- If you break any of your agreements about trust, there are steps to fix what's been broken
- Set a specific time and place to talk
- Each partner names the feelings he or she experienced during the incident or breach in trust, without blame or criticism
- The receiving partner listens without feedback or judgement
- Each person describes his/her point of view about what happened during the incident without blaming or criticizing their partner, while their partner only listens and tries to empathize — The listener shouldn't bring up their own point of view until it's their turn to speak
- Explain and examine any feelings that were triggered by the incident but that were originally felt long before this relationship — For example, one of you is a no-show for a dinner date, and that triggers a feeling of abandonment the other had from childhood or the rejection or infidelity in a past relationship
- Each partner assesses how they contributed to the incident an d holds himself/herself accountable
- Each apologizes and accepts the other's apology
- You make a plan together to prevent this from happening again
- Betrayal is nurtured by communicating to one's partner that he is she is lacking certain qualities we simply cannot do without, and therefore is highly replaceable
- Create a ritual time, maybe once a week, for cherishing your partner out loud
Date 1: Trust & Commitment
What does trust and commitment look like in our relationship? How can we make each other feel safe? What are our agreements about trust and commitment?
Define what trust and commitment mean to you. Think about what trust and commitment looked like in your family of origin. Name the little ways you and your partner show commitment to each other.
Open-Ended Questions For Your Conversation
- How did your parents show their commitment to each other? How did they show a lack of commitment to each toher?
- What does trust mean to you?
- Can you describe a time where you didn't feel you trusted me, and what I could have done to fix the situation?
- What do you need from me in order for you to trust me even more?
- What do you need from me to show that I am committed to this relationship?
- What areas do you think we need to work on to build trust between us?
- How are we similar and how are we different when it comes to trust and commitment? How can we accept these differences?
Agree to Disagree: Addressing Conflict
- If you enter into any long-term relationship thinking that the hallmark of its success is a lack of conflict, you're setting yourself up for disappointment and failure
- Mutual understanding: This is the healthiest and most productive goal of all conflict
- When couples talk about that one thing that they always argue about, it's what we call a perpetual problem — It's not going to be resolved
- Relationships work to the extent that you have a set of perpetual problems that you can learn to live with
- Within perpetual problems that you can't ever seem to resolve, lie the greatest opportunities for growth and intimacy — When you discover what lies beneath those problems, you uncover something that is at the core of your partner's belief system or personality
- Obviously some perpetual problems that can be deal breakers
- Solvable problems: There are situational problems where the conflict is about the topic — you argue about housework, who picks up the kids on Fridays, or where to go on vacation
- When you accept what you can't change, you accept each other — Accept your partner for who they are, and they'll do the same
- There's usually a story underneath every strong emotion
- Celebrate and learn from your differences
Fight Fair and Repair
- Each person takes a turn to talk about what they were feeling during the fight
- Each person should talk about how they saw the situation and their perspective about what actually happened in the argument — You may have two very different realities of what happened, but both are right
- Validate each other's realities
- Use "I" statements — Don't tell your partner what they did or didn't do ("I heard you saying", not "you said")
- Sometimes there are reasons why conflict escalated
- When you feel triggered, search your memory for a point in history or childhood when you had a similar set of feelings
- Tell your partner the story of what happened in your past, so your partner can understand your own particular sensitivities and why this is a trigger for you
- Accept responsibility and own up to your part in the fight
- Taking responsibility, even for a small part of the problem in communication, presents the opportunity for great repair
- Discuss how you both might do things differently the next time
Date 2: Addressing Conflict
How do we manage conflict? How are we the same and how are we different? How do we accomodate and accept these differences between us?
- How are we the same and how are we different?
- How can we accomodate and accept the differences between us?
- Are there differences we cannot accept?
- There is no winner in a healthy conflict; there is only understanding and resolution or acceptance
- Avoiding conflict breeds emotional distance
- Both of your perspectives are valid
- Recognize when a problem is solvable and when it's not — Not all conflict can, or needs to, be resolved
Open-Ended Questions For Your Conversation
- What is the story of how this issue is important to you?
- Is there a story behind this issue related to your own personal history or your family growing up?
- Is there a deeper purpose or goal for you in your position on this issue?
Let's Get It On: Sex & Intimacy
Finding Your Normal
- What's normal is whatever works for you and your partner
- 80% of married couples have sex a few times per month or more
- 32% report having sex two to three times per week
- 48% report having sex a few times per month
- Couples who have a great sex life:
Talking About Sex
- Research shows that couples who can talk openly about sex have more sex, and the women in these relationships have more orgasms
- 54% of men compared to 19% of women think about sex every day or several times a day
- Men typically want sex four to five times a week, and women one to two times
- Men have more explicit sexual fantasies and women have more romantic fantasies
- Men in general like to have sex to feel emotionally connected, and women need to feel emotionally connected to have sex
- According to research, one of you isn't going to be in the mood 25% of the time that the other is in the mood
- Those couples who have mastered acceptance of the no, actually end up having sex more than couples where one partner gets upset when the other one isn't in the mood
- It's important not to punish one's partner for saying no — Don't sulk or whine
Keeping It Passionate
- There's one simple way to keep the passion flowing in your relationship — Kiss, kiss a lot
- When you kiss passionately, you set off a chemical cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that release dopamine and increase oxytocin, both of which make you feel good — Really good
- Kissing passionately for no reason at all was one universal key to a great sex life
- Successful relationships have a 20 to 1 ratio of positive to negative in all their everyday interactions
- It is important to ask how each other's day went while making eye contact, you talk about the things that are stressing them out, you listen to them, and you empathize with their struggles
Date 3: Sex & Intimacy
Exploring and discussing romance, sex and physical intimacy.
- Reflect on what you want sex and passion to look like in your relationship or marriage
- What rituals for connection might you create?
- If sex is hard to talk about, be prepared to say so and explore why it's hard
- We suggest that you make this date as romantic and seductive as possible
- Dress in a way your partner finds sexy — If you don't how, ask him or her
- Adopt a "Yes, and..." attitude instead of a "Yes, but..." attitude toward your partner's ideas
- Be as specific as you can about what you like sexually — Say what you life, not what you don't like
- Don't compare your sexual experience with other partners
- Be open-minded to whatever turns your partner on and don't judge them
- Never get mad when sex is refused
Open-Ended Questions For Your Date
- Think about all the times we've had sex — What are some of your favourites?
- What turns you on?
- What's your favourite way for me to let you know I want to have sex?
- Where and how do you like to be touched?
- What's your favourite time to make love and why?
- What's your favourite position?
- Is there something sexually you've always wanted to try, but have never asked?
- How often would you like to have sex?
- What can I do to make our sex life better?
The Cost of Love: Work & Money
- Financial arguments were the single best predictor of divorce
- Arguments around money tend to fall into three distinct categories
- Different perceptions of financial inequality
- Different perceptions of what it means to have financial well-being
- Different perceptions about the nature of how they argue about money
Working Hard For The Money
- As long as you are transparent about the commitment you're making to your work and financial future, and you discuss it and make agreements with your partner ahead of time, it doesn't have to be a deal breaker
Sharing The Load
- Both men and women rate having a successful marriage as more important than a successful career
- After faithfulness and a good sex life, sharing household chores was listed as the most important element of a successful marriage
- Adequate income, good housing, shared religious beliefs, shared interests, and children all came below sharing household chores
- Every couple should come to an agreement about priorities
- Make a pie chart and map out your hours for a typical day
- How much time is spent working apart from each other (paid work outside the home), and how many hours are spend working together (unpaid work in the home)?
- How many hours are spent connecting in the relationship?
- How many with family (if applicable)?
- How much time is spent alone?
- Now make a second pie chart write down our ideal time for each of these areas
Date 4: Work & Money
- How do we each bring value to the relationship?
- What is our history with work and money?
- What does having enough money to each of us?
- Think of three things that you appreciate about your partner's paid and/or unpaid contribution to the wealth of the relationship or family
- This topic isn't about budgeting or spending or anything to do with numbers — It's about understanding what money means to each of you
- Refrain from judging
- Focus on all you have rather than what you don't have
Open-Ended Questions For Your Date Conversation
- My family history with money exercise
- What enough money means to me exercise
- Discuss what you have that you are grateful for
- What is your biggest fear around money
Room to Grow: Family
- Family can be defined as wherever and with whomever you feel love, belonging, and a sense of home
- It's important to talk about what family means and what you both want your family to look like and be like
- If you one of you wants children and one doesn't, this can be a deal breaker for a relationship
- For a child born in the United States in 20215, it costs an average of $233,610 to raise that child through age 17
Stay Ahead of the Curve
- Children need, demand, and deserve your love, time, and attention, but this shouldn't be at the expense of your primary relationship with each other
- In a longitudinal study of married couples, beginning with newlyweds, and as you went further along the married life spectrum, marital satisfaction was a U-shaped curve — Marital satisfaction began plummeting after the wedding and then took a big downward dive when the first child arrived
- Men who were more respectful to their wives, and more accepting of their wife's influence or opinions, were more likely not to have a drop in marital satisfaction after children are born — The same men were also dramatically different while their wives were pregnant by being involved, they talk to the baby and they compliment their partner
- If you've decided to have children and you want to stay away from the bottom of the U-shaped curve, then you both need to have two main goals:
- Both partner should work to stay involved during the pregnancy and birth of children — Both should be involved as equally as possible with the new baby
- Both partners should maintain intimacy and connection — You need to make your relationship a priority
Sleep and Sex
- Some of the biggest fears around having children is that it will be the end of your sex life, there will be no more time for romance, for travel, for ambition, and your marriage and career will both suffer — These things happen in about 2/3 marriages
- If you choose to have a family, it's imperative to continue to carve out special time to focus on each other, to continue to have a satisfying sex life, and to continue to build rituals for connection and intimacy
- The greatest gift for a child is a loving relationship between parents
Date 5: Family
- What does creating a family mean to each of us?
- Do we want children?
- How do we define a family for our relationship
- Stay open-minded to your partner's views about family
- Be honest about your desire to have children or not have children
- Don't criticize your partner's family — Whether it's in-laws or siblings or best friends who are considered family
- If you already have children, appreciate your partner for their support as a coparent
Open-Ended Questions For Your Date Conversation
- What does your ideal family look like? Just us? Us and friends and relatives?
- If you want children, how many children would you like to have?
- What are the ways in which your parents did or did not appear to main their closeness, love, and romance after having children?
For couple planning on having children:
- What problems do you think we might have maintaining our intimacy in our future family?
- What do you think you will love about being parents together?
- What characteristics or qualities of mine would you like our child to have?
Play With Me: Fun & Adventure
- When is the last time...
- If you can't remember, then you are in some serious need of a play infusion
- Couple who play together, stay together
- Couples who play, laugh, and make a "game" out of daily life are happier couples
- When you play together you're creating shared meaning and shared fun, and this in turn deepens the intimacy and connection you have with each other
- Playing is "an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time"
- Finding ways to play together as often as possible will help your relationship thrive, and making play a priority will help to create a relationship that is full of joy and happiness
- There is something about facing a challenge together that binds you closely and prevents you from taking each other for granted
- You don't have to to risk your life and limb to feel charged in your relationship — try a roller coaster ride, or a scary movie, or any other activity that inspires fear in you or your partner and see how much closer you feel after the experience
- The part of the brain where we experience fear (right amygdala) is linked to the part of the brain where we experience sexual arousal
- Ask yourself these simple questions to figure out whether your relationship is suffering from lack of adventure:
- One indication that adventure is lacking is when one or both of you are seeking substitutions for the dopamine response and end up feeding the need for play and adventure with sugar, chocolate, junk food, and for some, alcohol, prescription drugs, and other mind-altering substances
- When there's no shared adventure or no adventure of any kind, there's a kind of deadness and lack of vitality that sets in — The relationship becomes a series of tasks... It becomes mundane
- Go out into the world together and explore the unknown — whether that's walking through a new neighbourhood, trying a new type of food at a restaurant, travelling anywhere (even nearby), making new friends, talking to random strangers, turning off your cell phone for a day, or deciding to take a hip-hop class together
- Newness is the key so shake up your routines, try something different, and explore what play and adventure mean to both of you
- There is no correlation between couples having common interests and relationship happiness
- The opposite of play is not work — it's depression
- Play needs to be a priority — Don't make the mistake of thinking that ater all the work is done, then you will play together... It won't happen
- Your happiness individually and as a couple doesn't consist of not having bad experiences, it's about constantly generating good experiences
Date 6: Fun & Adventure
- How do each like to have fun?
- What is the role of play and adventure in our lives?
- Stay open-minded to your partner's ideas for play and adventure
Open-Ended Questions For Your Date Conversation
- What does adventure/play mean to you?
- How did you like to play when you were a child?
- How do you think we could have more fun?
- What's the most recent adventurous thing you did?
- What are you most excited about or looking forward to right now?
- What's a one-day adventure you could imagine us having together?
- What adventures do you want to have before you die?
Something to Believe In: Growth & Spirituality
Creating Shared Meaning
- In relationships, conflict is the way that we grow, and we need to welcome conflict as a way of learning how to love each other better and how to understand this person with a very different mind than our own
- The goal isn't to try to make the other person be like you — The goal is to learn from them and to benefit the ways you're different
- You create meaning when you meet with inevitable struggle in life together, and move and grow through its adversity
- When you create meaning out of the struggle, you stay together
- If a couple hold their relationship as sacred, then they have a better relationship
- Difference in religious beliefs isn't a huge cause of marital conflict — Shared religious beliefs is less important than shared interests, good sex, and division of household labor
- Every moment you're together, and even when you're not, you have an opportunity to honor all that is sacred in your relationship — however you define it
Growing And Changing
- You accomodate growth and change in a relationship by making it safe for your partner to share the unfamiliar and by being truly curious about the growth they're experiencing
Date 7: Growth & Spirituality
- How have we each grown and changed in the relationship?
- What does spirituality mean to each of us and how do we express it?
Exercise: Shared Meaning Questionnaire
Answer the following True or False questions:
- We see eye to eye about rituals for family dinnertime in our home
- Holiday meals are very special and happy times for us (or we both hate them)
- End-of-the-workday reunions in our home are generally special times
- We see eye to eye about the role of TV in our home
- Bedtime is generally a good time for being close
- During the weekends we do things that we enjoy and value, both together and separately
- We have similar intentions and desires about entertaining in our home
- We both value, or both dislike, special celebrations
- When I get sick, I feel taken care of and loved by my partner
- I really look forward to and enjoy our vacations and the the travel we do together
- When we do errands together, we generally have a good time
- Ask questions before assuming you understand
- Always put happiness and understanding above being right
Open-Ended Questions For Your Date Conversation
- What do you consider sacred? And why?
- What carries you through your most difficult times?
- How do you find a sense of peace in yourself? What is your source of peace?
- How have you changed in your spirituality or religious beliefs over the course of your life?
- How do you feel you have frown the most? In what areas?
- What spiritual beliefs do you want to pass on to our kids?
- How can I support you in your own personal journey?
A Lifetime of Love: Dreams
- Dreaming together, and supporting each other in pursuing individual dreams, is just as critical for your relationship as trust, commitment, and sex
- When each partner honors and supports the other's dreams, everything else in the relationship gets easier
- Everyone has a life dream or a life purpose, and you have to be intentional about not sacrificing those dreams and that purpose to your daily task list, your work, your family, or even your relationship
- Everyone makes sacrifices, but you can't surrender your dreams
- You can't suppress your dreams — That can lead to bitterness, resentment, and loss of passion and desire, and create enormous distance in a relationship
Become A Dream Team
- Some of our deepest dreams are tooted in childhood
- The dream doesn't go away when we suppress it — It is within us, and it will rear its head as conflict
- The best way to avoid this type of conflict is to be open and honest about all your dreams, both big and small
- Respect and honor your partner's dreams, even when they're different from your own
- Be curious about why they have that dream
- Ask them what that dream means to them
- Ask them how they will feel when they fulfill that dream
- There is a story within every dream you have and within every dream your partner has
- Listen to each other's stories
Date 8: Dreams
- What are our deepest dreams?
- How do we help each other fulfill dreams?
- How do we dream together?
- List out your top 3 dreams
- Be prepared to tell the story behind each of your dreams and share how it will feel to you to fulfill each dream
- Refrain from contradicting your partner's dream; do not say it will never happen, question it, or belittle it
- Don't immediately jump into practicalities until you fully understand the dream — It may be impractical but don't say it
- Ask big questions to understand your partner's dream
- Ask for the underlying meaning to any dream
Open-Ended Questions For Your Date Conversation
- Did you have any dreams for yourself when you were a child?
- Do you think your parents fulfilled their dreams?
- Did your parents support you in fulfilling your childhood dreams?
- Why is your top dream so important to you?
- How would you feel if this dream was fulfilled, or if it wasn't?
Conclusion: Cherish Each Other
- Your relationship is a great adventure — Treat it as such
- Couples whose relationships are successful feel save with each other
- A lifetime of love is made of the small moments and interactions you have with each other
- Kiss each other goodbye — Kiss each other hello
- Take time to talk about your day with each other — Know what is stressing your partner out
- Couples whose love lasts have a ratio of 5 to 1 positive to negative interactions during a fight or conflict — When they are just hanging out, they have a ratio of 20 to 1 positive to negative interactions
- Make your relationship a priority
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