How one man navigated the upset of “I’m not in love with you” to creating a new relationship.
God, I hate revealing my personal life. I do it only because I believe there is some part of my experience that might be useful to someone else. Another reason is that it helps me understand the subject material – like journaling.
That said, for those of you who have not read the original article titled, What do you do when your wife tells you she is not in love with you? And doesn’t want to be, it describes the WTF experience I had when my wife casually told me she wasn’t “in love” with me, after I had said I was still in love with her.
What ensued was an emotional day-long process of gaining clarity about what we both meant by being “in love,” and what it might take to recapture some of that feeling (but not the feeling of infatuation which she abhors).
Since the article was posted, I have received a number of messages from people who wanted to know how the “Sweetness Project” was proceeding. The Sweetness Project was an idea my partner and I came up with after she said that she might be more in touch with that “in love” feeling if I was not so “grumpy.”
The Sweetness Project is a very simple plan of behavioral modification. Both of us were to practice being “sweet” to each other, with the person being the most sweet at the end of the week getting a reward (positive reinforcement).
It worked. Practicing being “sweet” made me become more engaged in the relationship. I had to actively think about and take action that would be perceived as “sweet.” Before our WTF encounter, I was so wrapped up in work, worry, and responsibilities that being sweet was for the weekends for the most part (my wife informs me that there was not much happening on the weekends either – different perceptions). Now, we try and make it a daily occurrence.
This has made me appreciate my wife even more than I had already. Likewise, she too has taken up the challenge to be sweet. Interestingly, the quantity of sweetness from her has risen as she feels more appreciated and wants to return the kindness. This is a win/win situation.
What is sweet to one person may be sour to another. Through this process I have learned what is important and sweet for my wife is not always what I think. For example, she highly values and considers it very sweet of me when I give her attention and not talk about business at the same time. Go figure!
Our level of intimacy and knowledge of the other is increasing through the Sweetness Project.
And, the biggest result, my wife is in touch, once again, with being “in love.”
First off, this is a fun game to play. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort but it can be as elaborate and creative as you want to make it. The main aspect to remember is consistency. This is a daily practice, and by taking action on a regular basis the results become integrated into a new pattern of behavior which supports a budding mutual admiration society – not a bad thing in a relationship or marriage.
My wife is smiling and laughing way more. What’s not to like about that? She is more engaging (or am I engaging more?) and our conversations are lighter in tone, more considerate, and with a certain warmth passing between us that is undeniable.
There is a lighter atmosphere in the house. Hmnn, maybe I was grumpy. Terrance Real, in his book I don’t want to talk about it: Overcoming the legacy of male depression, suggests that there is an epidemic of covert male depression which is hidden by addictions, anger and workaholism. I have definitely been heavy on working and worrying which takes me out of the present moment for sure.
My partner has become more spontaneous and receptive to my suggestions about doing things together. This makes me feel good. Not always being turned down (rejected) ramps up my willingness to engage with her even more.
Something has changed in our love-making. I can’t quiet put my finger on it, but something is different. Ah, I’ve got it. She is in touch with feeling “in love” again. Duh! It’s easy to miss the obvious sometimes.
Without a doubt, The Sweetness Project has made a significant and positive impact in our relationship. We have been together for fifteen years. We have had our trials and tribulations and we both would say that the relationship has been, and is, good.
Yet, it is easy to take someone for granted, or take the relationship for granted and focus on what seems to be more pressing issues. This becomes a slippery slope of disengagement, especially difficult to notice if you are in a “good” relationship.
I give thanks that this issue presented itself – finally. Once in the open, my partner and I were able to apply a creative solution. Fortunately, the results have been better than I could have imagined.
Does this mean we are dancing down the halls of never-ending bliss? No! We still have our moments, but the day-to-day energy and caring for each other is like a warm blanket protecting us from the fierce elements of our delicate egos.
The Sweetness Project lives and our relationship flourishes because we have the same goals and we’re willing to do what is needed to make change. As I said before, this is a daily practice and, as we make the decision to be sweet and take action, I am rewarded a thousand times over by her smile of appreciation and words of love.
Photo: Flickr/Dave King