I clarified my discovery a bit and shared it with Richard. And like magic, merely because we were aware of the need to know, we discovered our respective styles. We asked each other questions, we talked, we demonstrated, we fantasized. We had fun. And we learned about each other’s favorite ways of entertaining. From there it was a small, simple step to developing or synthesizing our own unique combined style. Now, it’s smooth and easy. We know the glass cabinet containing the crystal is softly lit; the lights are turned low; incense burns in discreet, strategic places; flowers are everywhere; the pottery oil lamps are lit; wine is chilled: snacks are placed out in beautiful crystal dishes; and voilà! Instant atmosphere! Instant party!
We are now capable of setting this up in fifteen minutes, in a pinch. We rarely falter, trip over each other or get irritated. Richard has his favorite responsibilities and I have mine—yet we can each cover for the other when necessary. And we can do it all without much discussion.
An added bonus is, if I want Richard to feel romantic and “special occasion” without a big announcement, I can just do a part of the “party” routine, and he’s inclined to be in a party mood. It’s very handy, direct, easy and effective way to let him know I think he’s special. Either of us can use the signals.
Since then, we’ve been conscious about style. We have developed a hot-tub style, a summer barbecue style, a traveling style, an evening-out style, a work style, and a hanging-out style. Actually, these styles are largely what we’d have done anyway. It’s the understanding and awareness of the style that makes the difference.
Clarity about style also makes it easy to change and communicate new ideas to each other. It’s also easy to manage help when we have it, because we both know what needs to be done. Developing new styles becomes a challenge and a delightful pastime.
After seeing the impact style-consciousness made on my home life, I began to consider its implications in more profound ways. I began discussing it with friends and clients and suggesting uses of style for clients in their problem- solving processes. Everyone found it a simple and effective idea.
After getting similar positive responses in lectures and workshops, this book was conceived, in three parts: (1) a philosophical discussion of the importance of style in matters of love; (2) a series of exercises designed to help you discover your own and others’ styles; and (3) a brief discussion of how individual styles can mesh with the larger social environment.
I hope this easy- to- grasp idea of styles is as profound and effective in your life as it has been in mine.
There’s a pervasive myth in our society that there is a right and a wrong way to love. However, there’s not much clarity about what is the right way. We all have difficulty with relationships, difficulty with love; therefore, we’re liable to draw the uncomfortable conclusion: “Everyone knows how to love correctly except me.” At times, when frustrated by a lover, you may indeed believe that everyone knows how to love except your partner!