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Yes, You Can! (And Other Lessons from the Obama’s Marriage)

June 7, 2009

Michelle and Barack made headlines this week
(http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/07/fashion/07romance.html?_r=1&ref=fashionand became instant fodder for Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show (“Take it down a notch, dude!” ttp://www.meltingpotproject.com/mpp/2009/06/obama-ruins-jon-stewarts-anniversary.html) as the first couple flew to NYC for dinner and a play. It was Date night. Most married couples began to experience death by comparison. Most, as I did, reflected on their lives with mates. I pondered, “Does looking for a new refrigerator qualify as Date night? Does enjoying a Saturday morning community garden sale qualify as Date day?” By comparison the answer is a resounding “No.” But the real lesson of Date night is to do something fun, occasionally something new (as recent research in couples’ relationships reveals and oh—by the way, have a good enough relationship base that you actually enjoy spending time with your partner. I encourage the couples I see in treatment (most of whom see me because they’re not having fun, in fact their relationship may be caught in a rip-tide of arguments over the usual suspects—children, chores, money, family issues, sex—to begin with small daily acts of specific appreciations (http://www.trytoseeitmyway.com). Those everyday acknowledgments can range from personal compliments, to thanks for taking on a job that you didn’t have to do (or even couldn’t do), to valuing the fact that your partner provided a sympathetic ear, whether to partner, kids or extended family. Then build on that layer of appreciation with fun—taking turns to plan whether a Date night, a Date day, a Date family fun, or even a Date project—that reinforces your sense of togetherness. It doesn’t have to be dinner and a play to achieve the same goal. So thanks to the first couple for reminding us, whether long married or newlyweds, with or without kids, to take time for each other.

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