Did you ever hear the Paul Simon song, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”?
It’s a humorous song about a not-so-funny subject (the break-up of Simon’s marriage).
I don’t want you to hop on a bus or drop off your keys, but the song does make a good point about how to succeed in marriage. See, the song’s ultimate point is that once you make up your mind to do something, action is sure to follow.
Whether you decide to leave or love, it’s the decision that’s most important. Once the decision is in your head, there are 50 ways you could do either. You want to save your marriage, right? Good; you know WHAT you want. The only question left is HOW. HOW will you restore your marriage? Everyone WANTS to renew their marriage. But very few people have a clue how to go about it.
Let’s be clear about one thing first. It happens through ACTIONS. You ll never be able to blab your way out of a situation your behaved yourself into. You must act. Okay, but what actions?
Within the next 24 hours, I want you to try a Talk Charge and a Touch Charge.
A Talk Charge is a 60 second positive verbal interaction with your spouse about a NON- LOGISTICAL matter. It’s a fun or frivolous chat. And you do NOT need your spouse s cooperation. If necessary, you talk, they listen. A voice mail can even work.
A Touch Charge is similar, but it uses touch instead of talk. A Touch Charge is a loving physical gesture with your spouse. It’s not foreplay or an advance for love making; it’s just a warm touch for the sake of connecting in that moment. (If you re separated or your spouse is resistant to your touch, the solution to this problem is discussed in the Marriage Fitness Tele Boot Camp. See below).
I had private sessions with Cindy (not her real name). In one of our sessions, I noticed that Cindy was resistant to incorporating Touch Charges and Talk Charges into her relationship with her husband. She kept trying to change the subject. She said she wanted to discuss “bigger” matters.
I couldn’t imagine why she was so hesitant to do these 2 SIMPLE things. Finally, I challenged Cindy and said, “Cindy, what’s the problem. This is marriage renewal 101.” Eventually, Cindy told me why she didn’t want to talk about Touch Charges and Talk Charges. “My marriage is horrible.” Cindy said. “I need a BIG solution. I just don’t think talking and touching is going to make a difference.”
Cindy expressed a common thought, but she couldn’t be more WRONG. You can’t turn your marriage around with one Herculean event. There’s no gift you can give, favor you can do, or letter you can write. When your marriage is on the rocks, it’s common to want to “microwave” it better. But you can’t.
There’s no quick fix. There s no one thing you can do or say that will turn things around. It took you years to get into this mess; it’s going to take time for you to get out of it. And what’s the way out?
Listen carefully. Failed marriages eventually succeed because at least one spouse commits to doing SMALL THINGS in great ways over an extended period of time.
Do you want REAL change in your marriage? Then establish the RIGHT HABITS and do them CONSISTENTLY.
Talk and touch everyday, for example. I promised Cindy that if she would talk and touch REGULARLY, she would see a dramatic difference in her marriage. I promised Cindy that if I was wrong, I would personally fly to Nashville and do a full day “house call” with Cindy and her husband no charge. Cindy agreed to try. I’ve still never been to Nashville.
Og Mandino says, “Take great comfort in knowing that ALL great feats are accomplished one small step at a time.”
TAKE THE SMALL STEPS! They make a BIG difference. Do you remember when you used to just talk? Not about who’s going to pick up the kids, make the dinner, or pay the bill…I mean just talk for the sake of talking. If you’re like most couples, you need to start talking again.
Tell your spouse about your dreams. Share your fears. Tell a joke. Talk about the interesting person you met today or the experience you had jogging in the park. In the morning before you part for the day, share something with your spouse. In the middle of day, call your spouse for a Talk Charge.
You don’t have to be all sweetsie if you don’t want to. But make sure you don’t discuss anything logistical. And don’t fight! Just talk.
You and/or your spouse probably feel you don’t get enough attention from each other. As discussed, it could be that you need to talk more. But you also probably need to touch more. REACH OUT AND TOUCH YOUR SPOUSE TODAY. Try a warm kiss or a gentle rub. Stroke their cheek or play with their feet.
It only takes a moment, but the positive energy can carry you through an entire evening. (Once again, if you re separated or your spouse is resistant to your touch, the solution to this problem is discussed in the Marriage Fitness Tele Boot Camp.). When you caress your spouse’s hand, play with their feet, rub their shoulders, or stroke their cheek, there’s a moment there (if you do it RIGHT) when your spouse knows that you are completely connected with them.
Fill your marriage with a few of those moments each day and your relationship will begin to change. Now I don’t want to leave you hanging…wondering what you’re going to say and how you’re going to touch. I figure if there’s 50 ways to leave your lover, there must be at least as many ways to touch them or talk to them. So here’s my “50 ways” list. Don’t be overwhelmed. Most of these won t work for you. I created 50 so you would have options. My challenge to you is to pick 2; in the next 24 hours do 1 Talk Charge and 1 Touch Charge.
MORT’S 50 WAYS TO TALK AND TOUCH LIST
1. Express confidence in one of your spouse’s decisions
2. Share dessert with one fork
3. What was “your song” when you were dating? Call your spouse and sing it to them.
4. Surprise visit your spouse at their office or home and give them a kiss… and then leave.
5. Play footsie next time you sit together
6. Learn a new joke today and share it with your spouse
7. Ask how your spouse’s day went… and really listen
8. Kiss your spouse upon waking
9. Kiss your spouse before sleeping
10. Caress your spouse’s hand
11. Touch your spouse’s cheek or hand while driving
12. Rub shoulders next time you sit next to each other
13. Sit on your spouse’s lap or sit them on yours
14. Compliment something your spouse is wearing
15. Call your spouse out of the blue to let them know you are thinking of them
16. Give your spouse a neck or shoulder massage
17. Share a story from the news or your day that you thought was interesting
18. What about dancing before dinner? No one’s looking.
19. Tell your spouse that if you had to do it all over again, you’d choose them
20. Share a problem – thank your spouse for their concern
21. Play with your spouse’s hair while talking in bed
22. Fall asleep holding hands
23. Remind your spouse to drive safely next time they leave the house
24. Call your spouse at work with the latest news.
25. Have a tickle “fight”
26. Say “I’m sorry” about a mistake you recently made
27. Think of 3 ways your spouse has made you a better person … tell them now
28. Compliment your spouse on your favorite physical trait
29. Play Twister and let yourself laugh out loud
30. Look at your spouse when they are unaware of your gaze … share your feelings
31. Share what you most admire about your spouse
32. Have a “remember when?” moment.
33. Thank your spouse for helping you through a challenging time in your life
34. Find a reason to touch your spouse when you are in the same room
35. Dig out the wedding album and reminisce
36. Hold hands under the table
37. Brush your mate’s hair out of his/her eyes
38. Straighten his tie, being sure to touch him with love
39. Button or zip her dress, being sure to touch her with love
40. Knead the same dough together
41. Kiss in the elevator when no one is looking
42. Express confidence in your spouse’s ability to overcome a problem
43. Listen to your spouse’s worries – ask how you can help
44. Make your spouse’s lunch for the day … deliver it with a kiss
45. Send your spouse a fax with your special “code words” for I Love You!
46. Turn off your spouse’s alarm clock…wake them with a massage
47. Kiss the back of your spouse’s neck while he/she is reading
48. Before parting, tell your spouse you can’t wait to see him/her again
49. An extra hug for no reason at all never hurt anyone
50. “Spoon” your mate while sleeping
Mort Fertel is a world authority on the psychology of relationships and has an international reputation for saving marriages. He is the creator of Marriage Fitness, a relationship renewal system and an alternative to marriage counseling. Marriage Fitness is the most successful marriage crisis program in the world, successfully used by millions of people in marital crisis.