If you haven’t caught this sweet, super short love story called “A Romance That Started With a Mistake”, recorded for StoryCorps, then click the link to listen and come back to this post. I’m struck by how Bill and Claudia touch on key elements on what makes a relationship strong. In less than three minutes, this couple highlights the following:
Feeling “flustered” and “tingly”
Do you remember those days? Think back to the time when you first met your love. Did you get butterflies in your stomach? Did your face feel hot? Did you find yourself breathing differently or stumbling over your words? Your emotions of love and sense of attraction registered physically in your body. What do you remember feeling in your body when you first met? Share this memory with your partner.
“You Made Me Happy”
I love how Bill shares his vulnerability with such ease. How often do you let your partner know how happy they make you? Does your conversation focus more on what is wrong with them? Is there room to acknowledge those moments where your partner brings you joy, contentment and happiness? Consider those moments and let your partner know.
“You Were Still You”
Claudia shares how despite Bill’s physical disability, she saw him as a whole person. How often do you criticize your body or that of your partner? Whether due to aging, childbearing years, disability or dysfunction, how often do you only see parts of yourself and not your whole self? This couple highlights how love and attraction are more than skin deep. Consider what physical and non-physical traits attracted you to your partner, then and now. Think of how meaningful it could feel to them to know this.
Claudia openly shared what she admires about Bill. What do you admire about your partner? How many qualities can you name? How often do you take the time so say, “Hey, you know what I love about you, I love how you _______.”. Think about how impactful it would be to acknowledge those specific traits that you admire most of all. How special would your partner feel if they knew you thought so highly of them?
“We put us first”
Bill acknowledges how Claudia put their relationship first. No matter what. As a result of this, many years later, they still sound madly in love with each other. Best of friends. Lovers. How often do you make your relationship top priority? What might you both need to shift so that you can spend more time attending to the love between you?
“What are you hoping for us in this final chapter?”
Bill and Claudia look to their future. Bill made a joke, where he may be partially or wholly serious, but I have no doubt that they deepen this conversation. By asking this question, Claudia shows us how she holds conscious, intention-setting discussions. She is committed to him and together, they look to their future and see each other in it. What would the answer be if you and your partner were to answer the question, “What are you hoping for us in our future together?”
In less than three minutes, Bill and Claudia showed us what intimacy looks and feels like. They allowed themselves to be vulnerable by freely expressing their physical attraction and admiration for one another, demonstrating transparency, confirming the priority of their relationship and looking to their future together.
Research teaches us how important it is for you, as romantic partners, to have a solid base of friendship. We also know that intimacy requires your vulnerability – the ability to say, “I need you”, to let your partner see you fully and to verbalize what you love about them more than merely focusing on where you struggle. We also know that tending to your relationship requires attention, commitment and love.
Thanks to StoryCorps, Bill and Claudia can inspire us all to deepen our connection to our most cherished partners, this Valentine’s Day and always.