Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are back in the news – not for Tom's newest film or Katie's latest shopping spree or even the size of Suri's "high" heels, but because of their divorce proceedings. Will this become just more summer beach reading for the rest of us or can we put our own close relationships in the spotlight and work on improving them? While there's been intense speculation about what has actually gone on between the celebrity couple, we don't really need to know the reason for the breakup of their marriage to focus on improving our own loving partnerships.
With summer weddings and anniversaries coming up – mine is later this week! – here are some tips for strengthening your own intimate relationship:
Respect each other. While your views may be different, you don't have to agree with each other to value your partner's opinions. When you understand where he or she is coming from, you're more likely to appreciate their position. Even Democrat James Carville and Republican Mary Matalin, political consultants coming from beliefs 180 degrees apart, have been married for close to 20 years and are still going strong.
Make time for being together. Connect often for shared experiences and activities – going out for dinner, taking long walks through the neighborhood, attending a class in wine-tasting, couple's dancing or photography. Regularly set aside time for special activities together, either at home or out. Take turns planning a date night that will remind you both of why you fell in love.
Allow for your own space. Recognize that you don't have to share all of your interests and that you each have a right to pursue your own passions. Maintain your set of individual friends and activities - a writing workshop, a weekly sports game, volunteering at a soup kitchen, book club. Venturing out independently makes your reconnection all the more interesting and exciting. And if one of you is an introvert who feels energized by being alone, allow for that distancing as well.
Have fun. Free yourselves to be playful and affectionate. You'll notice that touch has healing qualities for both of you. As you engage with each other, the stress of the rest of the world fades into the background. Let yourselves be kids again and enjoy bringing spontaneity and laughter back into your relationship.
Resolve to incorporate these steps into your intimate relationship and look for more tips on Wednesday to help you avoid the pitfalls of the TomKat relationship.