Italians and people of many other Mediterranean countries have an almost blatant disregard for the clock. They rarely seem in a hurry and are typically open and welcoming to drop-in visitors. Contrast that to Americans with precious little margin in their fast-paced lives, who feel not joy but irritation at a friend dropping by unannounced and think only of what is not getting crossed off on the ever-pressing to-do list. Westerners make lots of lists; Mediterraneans linger and make love.
Imagine a whole country enjoying a built-in, guilt-free, daily nap time! Italians say that the only people who are awake during the midafternoon siesta are “foreigners and fools.” This appreciation of rest, this lack of hurriedness, feels pretty wonderful when couples are completely focused on each other, asking questions, touching, leaning back to listen, admiring, pouring another glass of wine on a late summer’s eve. (Perhaps they have more stamina for paying rapt attention to each other because everyone just had a long, refreshing nap.) Their attitude and body language convey to each other, “You matter. I’m fully present and enjoying every single aspect of being with you, delightful person that you are!” Who wouldn’t swoon over that sort of attention? Who wouldn’t feel cherished, valued, loved?
Attunement is, in short, all about paying closer attention to each other. It is getting our mind off the dozens of things that pull at our attention; it’s tending fully to the love of our life for a few moments a day, every day.
We can do this through our eyes, our body language, the way we prioritize unhurried time with each other, the way we affirm, compliment, and build up our partner in ways that make them happy to be a man, delighted to be a woman. (If you don’t know what words of praise and honor make them happy, ask!) It is also about paying closer attention to ourselves and feeding our senses, allowing passion to rise and flow naturally, appreciating our inner selves, and presenting ourselves in ways that make us feel unique, classy, fun, sexy. It is about being fully present for your lover in proactive, sense-drenched ways on a regular basis.
9 ways to keep your lover attuned
1. Be aware of the art of subtle touch. Men, try putting your hand on the small of your wife’s back when guiding her through a door, or put your hand over her hand while driving, or tenderly bring her hand to your lips and kiss it. Women, gently rub the back of your man’s neck while he is driving, or lay your head on his shoulder while watching TV.
2. Meet at a coffee shop or café in the middle of the day, or get together for a glass of wine after work and pretend to be two people deeply attracted to each other, meeting up for a first date.
3. Give compliments that affirm each other’s masculinity or femininity. Wives, say something that helps your man feel like a man! (“I love the way you took charge of that meeting the other day.” “You are a wonderful lover. That was amazing.”) Men, help your lady feel glad she is a woman! (“Your beauty, when you’re just standing near the window in the sunlight, takes my breath away.” “I love how tender you are with our kids.”)
4. Keep some extra margin in your life for lingering. (If at all possible, keep a portion of your weekends free to allow for at least a half day of unscheduled time together.) Have a regular happy hour (or half hour if time is short) after work sitting together on the porch in summer or cuddling up on a couch or soaking in a bubble bath.
5. Women, ponder Sophia Loren’s advice to “believe that you have a special beauty that is like no other,” and never abandon this part of you; cherish your inner beauty. The confidence that emanates from a woman who cherishes the beauty God placed inside her will prove irresistible.
6. Men, try listening to or reading a book that inspires you or teaches you something new, that goes a little deeper and causes you to ask yourself new questions. When the time is right and you and your lady are lingering together—on a walk or sitting out on the front porch before dinner—share some of the thoughts you are reading, ask her opinion, and listen to her response. Show that you value her insight and perspective.
7. Laugh together whenever possible. Laughter is one of the world’s most underrated aphrodisiacs. Watch funny movies or cartoons or share a hilarious YouTube video that you know your lover will enjoy. Never be afraid to tell a good story on yourself, as sharing our flaws with humor is a powerful way of connecting with our soul mate.
8. Make saying thank you a part of your daily habits, and you will be amazed at how these two small words, given generously, strengthen the bond of love and romance. Try this: every evening, between dinner and lights-out, when you are together, thank the one you love for at least one thing they did, or one thing they are, that blesses your life.
9. Try being more open with your emotions, especially the positive or tender ones. If you feel a surge of gratitude for the beauty of the day, or the love of your wife, or the cuteness of your kids, don’t keep it to yourself. Say it. Say it with energy and passion.
Want your marriage to be more passionate? The Arterburns share some secrets for better “amore” that folks in the Mediterranean have known for centuries on FamilyLife Today®. And their book, The Mediterranean Love Plan, will help couples become more playful, creative, connected, and romantic—burning with passion that stands the test of time.
Adapted from The Mediterranean Love Plan. Copyright © 2017 by Steve Arterburn. Used with permission of Harper Collins Publishing.