Now that summer’s here, what better time to heat up your relationship? No longer cooped up by cold dark days, it’s time to throw open the doors and together venture out.

Since John’s favorite adventure is visiting a bookstore while mine is tramping up mountains, not surprisingly we differ somewhat about the virtues of summer. We’re like that movie, “The Odd Couple,” a 1960’s tale of two roommates who are total opposites of each other. Each summer John rails against that “yellow stuff” (sunshine) and wants to stay indoors, while I’ll do anything to stay outside.

So how does this “odd couple” find summer romance? Thankfully, we both love the sea. John armors himself with a wide brimmed old straw hat and 50 SPF sunscreen, and together we jump into our double sea kayak and take off for far away islands. The secret to boating together? No criticisms or “corrections” allowed. Instead, in order to sync up we sing together and paddle in rhythm to our tunes. Only the seals can hear us, and so far they haven’t complained.

Here are some other ideas for summer romance: The tried-and-true picnic is standard summer fare. But make it special by taking along the Love Map and Open-Ended Questions Card Deck for updating your Love Maps. John and I recently sat out on our deck for three days taking turns answering every single card. Even after 25 years, we still had more to learn about each other. And if you’re so inclined, stash the Salsa Deck of your choice in your picnic basket for more “spicy” topics.

Setting up an air mattress outside and sleeping under the stars can sweeten your nights, too. Or hopping in your car with some weekend supplies and heading for the nearest campground! But if you’re one of the unfortunate couples sweltering in this year’s heat wave, try an all-weekend movie marathon. Just make sure the theatre is air-conditioning. Afterwards, there’s lots to talk about – which was your favorite movie and why – discussed over ice cream, of course.

And our favorite summer activity? Our annual honeymoon. Every year around anniversary time we ferry up to Salt Spring Island off the coast of B.C., our kayak in tow. Though married much longer, we discovered the joys of this annual Ritual of Connection 13 years ago, and we’ve been repeating it every year since. We always stay in the same B&B and visit the same restaurant where they know John will order only his favorite dish, weinerschnitzel, like his mother used to make.

By now we’ve also gathered a circle of friends, artists, and writers, who we look forward to seeing year after year. Best of all, there is no internet and no cellphone reception, leaving us with endless hours of nothing but each other. And that’s the sweetest of all.

Happy summer to you and yours!


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Summer Romance

Julie Gottman, Ph.D. is the co-founder and President of The Gottman Institute, and Clinical Supervisor for the Couples Together Against Violence study. A highly respected clinical psychologist, she is sought internationally by media and organizations as an expert advisor on marriage, sexual harassment and rape, domestic violence, gay and lesbian adoption, same-sex marriage, and parenting issues.