I’ve been collecting relationship advice…

I’ve been collecting relationship advice these past six months from my community. My dear friend and colleague Lloyd weighs in…

“Over the holidays I made a special effort to discover what makes a solid relationship. I asked happy couples about their success and observed the mistakes failed couples were making. Here is the insight I gained:

Be friends first. Genuinely get to know and like the person before you develop intimacy. This entails respecting your partner’s family and friends even if you don’t like them.

Have a hobby each of you are passionate about even if not shared by your partner. Being happy apart is essential to being happy together.

Each of you should have a support group of friends. Caring for others is the same skill as caring for you. And it shares the load.

Clear the major show-stopping obstacles before developing intimacy. Be sure the other is fiscally responsible and has no undisclosed debt or legal problems. Have agreement on children.

Having become friends with someone who is already happy before you met, who has a life, and who brings no insurmountable obstacles to your happiness, you decide to move toward intimacy. These are some of the elements I have seen bring success:

Be sure you are sexually compatible before you commit yourself to a lifetime together. Sexual exclusivity defines marriage. If the bed isn’t happy nothing else matters.

Make your partner feel safe enough to trust you with the deepest of secrets.

Respect your partner’s privacy. Never go through your partner’s private phone, email or other correspondence.

Accept your partner’s past and present outside relationships. No one comes to a new relationship without baggage. Jealousy is the best way to drive a partner away.

Avoid telling the details of your other intimate relationships to your partner unless there is a very good reason. It usually hurts and rarely helps.

Learn to express anger, fear and sorrow without attacking your partner. There is a huge difference between “You made me angry” and “You are selfish.” Never, ever, in word or body language or facial expression show disgust or contempt. Relationships cannot survive contempt.

Share food. Cook for each other with an eye to both health and enjoyment. Feeding a partner is especially powerful in building strong bonds.

May daily “us time” a priority. Touch, hug and kiss often. Build a bed-time routine that culminates in undisturbed love-making before falling asleep.

Build secrets that just the two of you share. Private memories and inside jokes are the substance of your unique relationship.”

– Lloyd

New York Encounter Part Deux: MalloMars to Venus

New York Encounter Part Deux: MalloMars to Venus

MallomarsIt’s Sunday evening around 8pm and I am walking home from parking my car on the west side. I have a bag of groceries in one arm, a score from the an out of town trip with my theatre company. I’m an opportunist when the option arises to stock up on suburbia goodies for $20 when the same bag of groceries will cost you $55 in New York City. My husband’s favorite cookie Mallomars were on 2 for $5 which retail for $8 at the arm and a leg gourmet grocery around the corner. I felt victorious on my saunter home with my dirt cheap booty tucked under one arm. As I was strolling crosstown, a gruff sounding “Excuse me!” erupted from behind. Everyone’s in a hurry in this city. I moved to the side to let Mr. Bad-Attitude pass. A rotund black man with a 6” long beard who was missing his front tooth brushed passed me in linebacker fashion. We locked eyes. His stormy gate suddenly turned to slow motion.

“What’s your name?” he said to me, switching gears quickly from get-the-fuck-out-of-my- way to I’ve-got-plenty-of-time-for-you-babe.

“What’s yours?” I bounced back at him.

“Ishmael,” he said a bit lasciviously, looking me up and down again.

“I’m Isis,” I responded.

“Are you spoken for?”

“Very,” I quickly replied.

“He better hold onto you tight.”

I smiled. Ishmael continued “I’m just returning to dating. My sister is encouraging me to get out there.” Just then, his hardened player face cracked and I saw a wash of sadness sweep over him. His voice quivered for a moment. “My wife, I lost my wife.”

We both stopped in our tracks.

“I’m so very, very sorry to hear that Ishmael. What happened?”

“My wife died of breast cancer a year ago,” Ishmael’s gruff voice softened almost to a whisper. Tears pooledon his lower eyelids. “My sister tells me its time for me to start dating again. I’m… it’s so hard”

We stood silent for a few beats.  The sounds of New York City muted into the background and somehow I could hear only the sound of our breath. Two strangers simply being with each other in a deeply vulnerable and intimate moment.

“Ishamel, I am so very sorry for your loss. I know this must be very hard for you. You will never replace your wife. But you will absolutely find love again.”

“My wife was so special Isis.”

“I know she was Ishmael. And she would absolutely want you to love again and she absolutely wants you to be happy.”

A soft smile cracked through the dark clouds on his face.

“I think she would want that, yes,” spoke Ishmael.

We stared at each other another moment.

“Thank you,” Ishmael bowed his head for a moment and then walked away.

I shifted my armful of groceries to the other arm and continued my walk home, a little slower, more present and filled with the gratitude of small miracles –  more love just opened on the planet… and Mallomars were 2 for $5.