When I was growing up, my oldest brother was a national chess champion—at least through my young eyes. He taught me a lot about the game, and chess taught me about the game of life. Chess is an extraordinarily complex game with unlimited possibilities. For example, after only three moves apiece, there are more than 10 million possible placement combinations of the pieces! Each decision made in chess paves the way to success or failure, just as in life and relationship.
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Both in chess and relationship, if we get too focused on our own plan without being attentive to our partner, we lose in this fascinating game. Champion chess players sometimes have up to eight to ten moves ahead in their minds with multiple strategies, depending on their opponent's tactics. That requires a lot of focus!
When is the last time you focused your love on your partner with such focus and attentiveness?
Love Is a Choice!
In a game like Chutes and Ladders, we may get frustrated when we land on a square that sends us sliding back to the beginning, but there really isn't much challenge. The game is quick, no skill is required, and very little is expected of us. We can play the relationship game like Chutes and Ladders, which requires very little effort and the outcome is left to chance, or we can play the relationship game like chess.
Chess requires an investment of time, commitment, focus, and skill. What we bring to the game of chess determines the outcome. So it is in relationships.
Perhaps Chutes and Ladders was fun when we were kids, but landing at the same place in an unhappy relationship over and over is anything but fun.
When we are sliding or coasting in a relationship, there is a sense of falling out of love. Life is on auto-pilot and can become mundane. We forget to do the small loving acts that cement our connection. Or we pay too much attention to our work and too little attention to our partner. We are distracted, and we are not concentrating on what is most important to us. This is a recipe for disaster in chess and in relationships.
Related reading: "3 Things You Should Never Do in Love and Marriage"
When we are careless in chess, our pieces are jumped and the game quickly and abruptly ends in checkmate. If we do not train our minds to look for opportunities, we miss moves that would have enabled us to win. If we invest time and energy toward mindfulness, we get better and better at the game—both in chess and in relationships. Most relationship troubles stem from not paying attention to the health of our relationship and/or to our partner.
Here are some simple yet vital moves in the game of relationship-chess. These small strategies will create more fun, bring out the best in you, and make it far more likely that your relationship will achieve new heights of success, meaningful connection, and closeness. Love is a choice.
Related reading: "Love Is a Choice—the Best Marriage Advice!"
Strategies to Create a Healthy Relationship...and have more fun!
Give your partner the same interest and passion you give to your work or your favorite hobby.
Remember those early weeks and months when the honeymoon feel-good drugs were coursing through you? Enliven the connection between you again by giving focused attention toward your partner. Plan a special date night or an adventure that you used to do together but have neglected lately. Visit a new romantic restaurant or plan a trip tailored to your partner's favorite things! Surprise them!
Carve out time every day to converse and truly listen and be present to each other. Engage in meaningful connections.
When life is busy, it's easy for our interchanges to turn into quick exchanges about logistics, picking up the kids, or commenting on a project that needs finishing. Devote some time for meaningful conversation daily when possible—but for sure weekly!
Pay attention to what makes your partner happy and brings a smile or a laugh.
Set an intention to do one of these little things every day. Small actions hold the power to spark more connection and lighten the tension that can begin to build. Bring more joy! Love is a choice!
Focus on what you can do for the relationship to be successful, NOT on the things in the past that haven't worked.
Sometimes couples get stuck on the annoyances or complaints within the relationship and they become the focus. Make an effort to put your attention on what you love about your partner, their charm or humor, or kindness. Notice it and appreciate it! Keep your eye on what makes your relationship special and unique.
An unanticipated act could be to greet your husband with his favorite cold drink when he gets home from work; it could be to write a note of appreciation for your wife and hide it in her purse to find later. Or it could be a loving text message or a short phone call just to connect and say you love them. Just like in chess, the possibilities are limitless!
Shake up the monotony with random acts of kindness—something unexpected or unanticipated.
It's up to you how you play the game of relationship. What's it going to be—Chutes and Ladders or chess?
Related reading: "Let Go of Expectations and Start Enjoying Your Relationship!'
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