“It’s another one of the ways for me to love my man,” I said to the eye doctor.

Yumi and I went to see the eye doctor because Yumi complained about having great pain in his right eye. Turns out his eye was very dry because it doesn’t close well. The doctor described a few surgical options, but did not feel ready to perform a surgical intervention.

He turned to me and asked: “Can you take on putting ointment in his eye a few times a day?” I said very naturally: “It’s another one of the ways for me to love my man!” He started to laugh, and said: “You should write the book One Hundred Ways to Love your Man.” We all laughed.

#43: Put ointment in his eyes

“You can compare having a long-term relationship with piloting a plane cross-country,” says John Mordechai Gottman, who does the most extensive research on marriage. He goes on to say: “A turn of a few degrees over Ohio may seem like a small adjustment – merry fine tuning. But in the long run it determines whether you end up in San Francisco or Los Angeles.” And so it is with long-term relationships because, as Gottman says: “When both partners commit to making small but consistently positive and frequently repeated shifts in their interactions, they can take their marriage to a much happier place.”

In his “Love Lab” Gottman videotaped happy couples and counted how many caring behaviors they do for one another in one day. He discovered that the magic number is 100. A happy couple does 100 caring behaviors every single day, to and for each other. They are small things: a wink, a kiss, a warm smile, an affectionate squeeze, a hug, a pinch, a kind thank you, a tender back rub, a special beloved dish….

These days I see that Yumi does so many kind and tender nonverbal things that say to me: “I love you!” And I see that I now get a chance to be creative, and do so many things that say to him: “And I love you!”

One of the ways that I show my love to my man is walking very slowly with him. And miraculously this Wednesday at Club Memory, we joined the poetry group and received a poem called Walk don’t Run, by Rob Bell:

Walk, don’t run.
That’s it.
Walk, don’t run.
Slow down, breathe deeply,
and open your eyes because there’s
a whole world right here within this one. The bush doesn’t suddenly catch on
fire, it’s been burning the whole time.
Moses is simply moving
slowly enough to see it. And when he does,
he takes off his sandals.
Not because
the ground has suddenly become holy,
but because he is just now becoming aware that
the ground has been holy the whole time.
Efficiency is not God’s highest goal for your life,
neither is busyness,
or how many things you can get done in one day,
or speed, or even success.
But walking,
which leads to seeing,
now that’s something.
That’s the invitation for every one of us today,
And every day, in every conversation, interaction,
event, and moment: to walk, not run. And in doing so,
to see a whole world right within this one.

And so back to the 100 ways to love our partner. It is like making deposits in our bank account. And when times are challenging, we have something to draw on: a rich, fertile, inspiring relational space.