5. Try to have at least some dates during the daytime.

The early part of a relationship is so confusing and intense that it is outside of ordinary life. Going out on dates only at night adds to this feeling. At its worst, this disengagement from the ordinary can make the relationship feel imaginary and like something for which you are not responsible.

My now-wife often had us meet during the day. By meeting during the day, our relationship existed during the hours that I lived most of my life. It caused the relationship to become part of my everyday life. Having her be part of my daylight hours caused the relationship to set down roots.

6. Volunteer together.

Lisa had volunteered to clean a park one weekend and asked me to join. Going with her one Saturday morning to a park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and picking up litter together made us talk about certain things which don't come up early in a relationship: what is our moral responsibility toward the world, what is the moral stance with which we should approach the world? This helped me see that I admired Lisa and that, though I am much more cynical than she, I wanted to be a bit like her.

7. Ask him to cook something for you.

Food is a way into our past. When I toast an English muffin, the muffin is not just itself, but also part of the TV ads that I saw as a child and the first apartment my family lived in when we came to America. When Lisa asked me to cook her dinner, the khicrdi, a type of gruel, I made had so many memories of my past attached to it that it was a physical way of taking Lisa into my childhood. Twenty years after I did this, Lisa still talks about it. Often, we want to reveal ourselves but we don't know how. Preparing food for each other is a way of taking the person into our past. Love requires care. It requires an eagerness to find the romance in the humdrum. The only way to do this is to constantly share our humanity, to constantly say that this right now is pretty fantastic.

Family Life by Akhil Sharma Akhil Sharma is the author of the new novel Family Life: A Novel and An Obedient Father.


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