Celebrate Labor Day By Working On Your Love Life by Jackie Pilossoph for Chicago Tribune Media Group
Labor Day is a day that honors contributions made by hardworking Americans. That includes you! Whether your work is a labor of love, a job you do strictly for a paycheck or something in between, you are contributing to our country’s productivity in some way.
But there’s something else that should be celebrated on Labor Day: the work you put into your love life and relationships. Whether you’re single, in a relationship, divorced, widowed or married, love (or looking for love) can sometimes feel like a job. That’s not a bad thing. Even the happiest of couples will tell you they work at sustaining their strong connection, and those who date a bunch of different people say it can get tiring, but that they also find it fun and interesting.
In the spirit of Labor Day, here are some tips for working on your love life:
1. Single people who want to meet someone
Network. Just as you would if you were looking for a job, contact people you think might know single people and ask them to set you up. You might feel like you appear desperate, but I think just the opposite holds true. You will be surprised at how many people didn’t even realize you were interested.
Take advantage of being single. Not being in a committed relationship has its benefits. They include being able to travel and enjoy the things you might not be able to do if you were married and/or had children, and having the freedom to take a step back and really get to know yourself, reflect on past relationships and think about what you’re looking for in your next relationship. Think of it like this. It’s only a matter of time until you meet someone and find yourself in a relationship. This attitude takes all the pressure off and will allow you to live for today.
2. Divorced people
Accepting the past and coming to peace with what happened in your marriage isn’t easy. I can attest to the fact that it takes a long, long time, but that doesn’t mean life can’t be enjoyed while on that journey. Many divorced people find talk therapy helpful. Other avenues for coping with divorce include yoga, meditation, faith and making an effort to connect with old friends.
Dating after divorce can be very scary and uncomfortable, and can seem unnatural at first. The key is not to put pressure on yourself to fall in love so fast. Date for fun, for companionship, to meet interesting people, to make new friends and to take your mind off your divorce. If you try not to expect anything beyond friendship and instead focus on having a good time, you won’t ever be disappointed. Plus, love is strange, and people always say they fell in love when they least expected it.
3. Married people or those in relationships
Have you stopped dating your spouse? If so, start again. Date night is very important in staying connected romantically.
Never forget the importance of open, honest communication. If you married your best friend, you should feel comfortable talking about anything. If you don’t, it’s OK to tell your spouse that what you are about to say is uncomfortable, but you are going to say it anyway.
A little kindness goes a long way in a marriage. Offering to do the dishes, taking the kids for an afternoon to let your spouse have some alone time, buying her flowers for no reason or giving him a much needed backrub are great ways to let your spouse know how much you appreciate him or her.
I don’t know firsthand what it is like to be a widow, but I can say that from the ones I know, there can be a tremendous guilt factor that comes into play in dating, which is completely unwarranted. It must be extremely difficult to date after a spouse has passed, but try to think of dating as something that he or she would have wanted you to do, as you would have wanted for him or her had you been the one who died.
If you want companionship and romantic love again, you deserve it. But when dating, make sure certain things are in place so your dates don’t feel uncomfortable. For example, if you are still wearing your wedding ring, that might be an issue for your dates. If there are photos of your spouse all over your house, it might show your dates that you are not really ready to move on. I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep your ring, or that you can’t keep any photos of your spouse in your home, but just know that if you really want a chance at a healthy romantic relationship, these are sensitive things could make it challenging.
Happy Labor Day and remember… (Click here to read the rest of the article, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.)