I’m delighted to have Tina Tessina, Ph.D. back as my guest. Tina is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in California. She’s the author of many books, including the best selling, The 10 Smartest Decisions A Woman Can Make Before 40 Money, and her newest, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media, 2008). Tina also writes the “Dr. Romance” column on Yahoo! Personals and MUCH more! Here she has suggestions for being a more enticing romantic partner.
How to Be Irresistible to Your Mate
(adapted from Money, Sex and Kids: © Tina B.Tessina, 2006)
By Tina Tessina, Ph.D.
Once upon a time, In high school, I memorized a poem that has been a constant source of help and direction in my life and relationships. It’s simple and much more sentimental than today’s cynical age can handle, but the very simplicity of it made it a great navigational tool for me in relationships.
“He drew a circle that shut me out;
Heretic, Rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the Wit to Win.
We drew a circle that took him in”
– Edwin Markham
So many couples I see in my office are in trouble because they have a knee-jerk oppositional response to each other—they’re defensive and critical, rather than welcoming and understanding. They don’t seem to realize that listening and understanding your partner doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with everything that partner wants or thinks. Being pleasant doesn’t mean you’re a patsy, and it’s more effective to be loving than to be right.
Guidelines for Being Irresistible to Your Mate
1. Don’t resist, listen. We often have a knee-jerk negative response to what a mate tells us, or wants to do. Instead of replying negatively “That won’t work…” “We can’t do that…” Try listening and thinking for a few seconds more. You may find out your initial response changes, and at any rate, listening and understanding is not the same as agreeing.
2. Look your mate in the eyes and smile. Unless your partner is talking about something really sad (job loss, death, etc.) where a smile would be inappropriate, look him or her in the eyes and smile while you’re listening. Your companion will automatically feel more understood and cared about, which will change the feeling level of the discussion.
3. Touch each other. Sit near your significant other, and gently place your hand on his or her shoulder, leg, or arm. If you’re in the car, lightly touch his or her shoulder or arm. You’ll find your conversation becomes warmer and more caring.
4. Try laughter. If something frustrating is happening, try easing the tension with a bit of humor. After a difficult interaction in a store, on the way out, you could say “That went well.” with a touch of irony. Or, when someone drops something and makes a mess, you could say “the gremlins are here again.” Or use comedienne Gilda Radner’s line “It’s always something” Or Judy Tenuta’s “It could happen” to change stress to silliness. Don’t poke fun at your mate, but use shared humor as a way to say “I know this is tough, but we’ll get through it.” Your mate will think of you as someone soothing and helpful to have around when problems happen.
5. Use pleasant surprises. Try a love note in your spouse’s briefcase, a post-it with a smiley face on the underside of the toilet seat, a flower, plant, card or balloon for no reason, or an unexpected gentle pat on the rear, a hug or a kiss to say “I’m thinking good thoughts about you, and I love you.”
6. Ramp up the sweetness. Married life has its unavoidable stresses and strains. To keep things in balance, we need to put a bit of energy into increasing the sweetness between us. Thoughtfulness, “thank you’s” and gestures of politeness and affection are the WD-40 of your marriage. Keep things running smoothly by remembering to add a spritz of sweetness frequently.
7. Devote time to your marriage. No matter how crazed you are with work, kids and bills, it’s essential to put aside regular time each week for the marriage. Have a “date night” which includes a “state of the union” discussion (include the positive things going on) or take a pleasant walk or drive. Keeping connected means things don’t build up to fighting status, and you’ll remember how good you are together. Don’t forget to celebrate and appreciate each other. Motivation comes from celebration and appreciation.
8. Focus on Partnership. Remember that first and foremost, before anything else, you’re partners. Keep that in mind and check frequently to make sure you’re acting like partners, and not competitors or avoiders. You’re in this thing together, and partnership is what it’s all about.
9. Reminisce about Good Times. “Remember when….” is a great start to a loving conversation. It creates so much good feeling to remember how you were when you were dating, when you got married, when you first bought your house, when you had your first child, when you got that promotion. Reminding yourselves of your solid history together is a way to increase your bond.
10. Brag to friends in your mate’s hearing. Of course, tell your mate to his or her face how much you care, but also be sure to tell your friends, while your mate is around, what a great guy or gal you married. “Harold is so thoughtful. Today he helped me around the house.” Or “Sue is such a great mom. She really gives the kids a sense that they’re loved and she still keeps them toeing the mark.” Or, “Did you hear? Fred got a big promotion. I’m so proud of him.” Or, “I don’t know what I’d do without Judy. She’s so great with money.” Or “Doesn’t my sweetie look great today? I’m so lucky.” Don’t worry if your partner looks embarrassed. He or she will also be pleased, and remember your brag for a long time.
Check out Tina Tessina’s book, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media, 2008). You can subscribe to her free newsletter: “Happiness Tips from Tina” on her site, http://www.tinatessina.com