Below is a new title and subtitle, which will appear on the book cover soon:
SIX WAYS to SWEETEN and DEEPEN YOUR CLOSENESS
For previous readers, the following is a completely revised Introduction:
SIX WAYS to SWEETEN and DEEPEN YOUR CLOSENESS by EMBRACING TENDERNESS
We think of tenderness as a gentle and caring sensitivity to each other’s feelings.
These six “Ways” are at the heart of embracing tenderness together, and are six of our seven chapter titles:
- Honoring Feelings: Becoming Fully Known and Deeply Loved
- Taming Criticism, Anger and Blame: Gentling Our Communication
- Resolving Conflict Tenderly
- Celebrating Our Love: Embracing Romance
- Eroticizing Tenderness: Reframing Desire
- Growing in Tenderness Together
Any of these Ways can enhance your tenderness, and in combination they have the potential to create an exquisite closeness that is precious beyond words.
MUCH TO LEARN ON OUR JOURNEY
Much of what we are sharing here we learned from conflicts that arose fairly early in our relationship. At the beginning, we thought our journey together would be smooth sailing. We had seen many of the same relationship books on each other’s bookshelves when we met. We’d each been married and divorced and knew that we wanted to do things differently this time.
To our surprise, we were in couples counseling before the end of our first year together. That popped our expectation bubble, but it showed us that we were determined. We agreed early on that we would make this one work.
Conflict itself was the obstacle in our path. We were stuck. One of us was conflict assertive and one of us was conflict avoidant. Each of us felt abused in our own way. And neither of us wanted to be wrong. We also were not feeling heard by each other during our disagreements.
We had so much to learn — mostly about ourselves through each other. About honoring feelings, banishing blame, transforming anger, and resolving conflict tenderly.
Fortunately, one of us soon started a master’s degree program focused on conflict resolution, and we collaborated on the assignments. We came to accept conflict as a natural result of our inevitable differences. We gradually learned to appreciate conflict as an opportunity.
Most importantly, we also learned to treat each other tenderly during conflict.
TENDER CONFLICT RESOLUTION + MUCH MORE
In our conflict chapter we’re going to walk you through what we call “tender conflict resolution.” We’ve included an exercise called S.A.V.E. to show you the structure of the process so you can use it if you wish.
You can see from the list of the Six Ways that there is more to be learned than tender conflict resolution. Each of the Ways makes a major contribution to the joy of living tenderly together.
Most of the seven chapters — “Why Tenderness” plus one chapter for each Way — include suggested exercises, and every chapter includes original poetry. We’ve designed this to be an easy and quick read, averaging 15 to 20 minutes per chapter.
Only the first five chapters are here at this time. The final two are works in progress and will appear here as soon as they are completed. All seven chapters will then also become a very affordable book, priced to encourage easy availability.
Meanwhile, the five chapters that are here today contain the core elements of living tenderly together. In these pages, we believe you’ll find many ways to help you sweeten and deepen your closeness by embracing tenderness.
We’ve been a couple since 1984. Cheryl is a retired hospice social worker and Bob is a retired family mediator. We both have a university certification in conflict resolution that we earned while Bob was completing his master’s degree.
We have presented workshops at marriage enrichment conferences at the local, regional and national level, on topics including “Living Tenderly Together,” “Tenderness, Fun and Romance,” “Tenderness and Desire” and “Beyond Anger: Embracing Conflict and Each Other.”
A favorite story of our relationship is about the love poem Bob wrote to Cheryl for Valentine’s Day several years ago. It has become a sweet and tender love song by popular singer-songwriter, Erin Bode: “The Moon Is Ours Tonight.” Together with Viktor Krauss, Erin composed the music and then added her delightful voice. The story is in our BLOG (see in headings above, or in CONTENTS, above, if you are viewing this on your phone). The song can be heard on Spotify and elsewhere, including on Erin’s website ( a LINK is in our BLOG story).
THE PATH OF SWEET TENDERNESS
We’re still learning, because the beauty of these “six ways” is that there is always room to sweeten and deepen our relationship. It’s a lifetime journey.
We’ve come a long way down the path of sweet tenderness during our years together. Our goal is to illuminate that path for you (in case you’re headed in the same direction). We hope you’ll join us. Our first chapter is “Why Tenderness.”
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