Excerpt from The book Love Lessons by Terry McDonald. Available on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.

Love Lesson Fifteen

Get On the Same Page and Stay There

Early in our relationship we started to take one vacation a year in a place that provided peace and solitude and not too many distractions. Lean years meant a Spartan location, prosperous years meant more comfortable surroundings. Both work well. We devised a strategy for these vacations that we found very powerful.

For each vacation we purchase a notebook. On day one of the vacation we take a long walk, usually on a beach and we talk about what we liked about the last year. This review of the positives helps us to remember how much fun and love we enjoy together. Concentrating a year of these memories is a boost that creates something of an emotional high. At the end of the walk we return to our room and write out all the things that we like and then set the book aside and spent the day in play and relaxation.

On the second day of the vacation we walk and talk about the things we did not like about the last year. We do this without criticism or rancor. We both try to hear and understand the things we each found unpleasant and why. As with day one we return to the room write down the things we did not like and then enjoy the rest of the day.

On the third day we talk about where we want our life to be in one, five and ten years. By now you know the pattern, at the end of the walk we write the results of the conversation down and then play.

On the fourth day we talk about ways to make the good things we discussed on day one happen more often and we also talk about new positive things we would like to incorporate going forward.

On the fifth day we talk about ways to reduce the frequency and severity of the negatives we captured on day two. The ideal of course is to totally eliminate the negatives.

On the sixth and seventh days we plan how we will incorporate the ideas from the previous days into the next year so that we enjoy more positives, fewer negatives and move our life to our one year vision and a year closer to our five and ten year visions.

This process has been immensely powerful for us. The sequence of the dialog helps to keep it productive and open. Doing it in a place that is peaceful and free of distractions is a plus but I’m sure it could be done on a series of Saturday mornings at home or in some other creative format that works for you and your life. The key is that we are on the same page, trying to attain the same things. We are attaining those things in a way that makes life better now and in the future and we both have “skin in the game”.

 Because we create the plan together we hold ourselves and one another accountable. If we get off track, we problem solve together. When we are successful we celebrate together as co-creators of the success.

Where do you want to be 1, 5, 10 years from now? Are there things you would like to happen more often next year? Less often? What is stopping you from getting and staying on the same page with your partner in life?