A secret to happiness and love: PAY ATTENTION.

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“I’ve decided to stop being so compulsive about going to the gym,” the Big Man remarked when we were at dinner with friends a few nights ago.

“Really?” I said in surprise. “I didn’t know that you thought of yourself as compulsive about going to the gym.” Though I do know that he hates to miss even one day.

The conversation shifted, so he didn’t say anything more, but I vowed to follow up on his comment. It’s a strange effect of marriage that certain kinds of confidences become much rarer; most married people know the experience of hearing your spouse make a startling revelation to some strangers you just met at a Parent Social.

In his book The Relationship Cure, preeminent marriage researcher John Gottman explains that the less people turn toward each other, the less satisfying their relationship.

One of the glories, and one of the drawbacks, of a long relationship is that people start to take each other for granted.

I’m trying to pay more attention to the Big Man – by putting down my book when he talk to me, instead of saying “Mmmm, hmmm” as I continue to read, by paying attention to his likes and dislikes, by doing little errands I notice that he needs done (like dropping off his shoes at the shoe repair place) even when they aren’t strictly “my” job.

I’m reminded, once again, of the line by Pierre Reverdy: “There is no love; there are only proofs of love.” An easy and obvious way to prove love is to pay attention. It’s harder than it sounds.


From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.

 

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