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Now for the proficient partner. Dr. Kirschner says this person has the harder job─making the activity pleasurable for the other person. She suggests 'rewarding' (also known as bribing) the newbie─'just as you would a child.' So repeat after me: 'I brought along your special chips.' 'Later we can have a nice dinner at that romantic restaurant near the ski slope.' 'The boat club serves an awesome rum cocktail called The Painkiller.'
The proficient partner needs to be patient and focus on the long-term goal─which is to introduce your loved one to your pastime so that he or she will want to do it again. In other words, the hike today might not be as demanding as you would like. 'You want to have a vision of a future where you are going to have a fantastic time together and will get even closer,' Dr. Kirschner says.
When one partner is outside his or her comfort zone, arguments can heat up quickly. This person might be terrified─and, really, is there anyone less empathetic than a spouse who doesn't share your sense of danger? 'The other person feels inept and less-than,' Dr. Kirschner says. 'This kind of negative thinking spills into conflict and distance in the relationship.'
Luckily, there's an easy solution: Applause. The proficient partner needs to heap praise on the newbie for his or her effort. ('What a fantastic partner you are to come along. I really appreciate it.') The newbie, meanwhile, needs to amp up the admiration for the proficient partner's skill. ('The way you skied that black diamond was amazing!')
'Those words mean a lot,' Dr. Kirschner says. 'Men, because they are so achievement-oriented, seem to respond to them even more than women.' There's no predicting, though, whether men or women are better at being the newbie.
Stanley Bernstein, a 56-year-old securities litigator living in New Rochelle, N.Y., did something drastic a few years ago to spend more time with his wife. He laced up a pair of ice skates.
为了多陪陪妻子，现居纽约州新罗谢尔市(New Rochelle)、今年56岁的证券诉讼律师斯坦利•伯恩斯坦(Stanley Bernstein)曾在几年前做了一些极端的事。他穿上了一双溜冰鞋。
Vivian Bernstein, an interior designer in her late 40s, had taken up figure skating as an adult and was skating five days a week. Mr. Bernstein thought he might have skated once when he was 10. 'We were taking separate but equal vacations,' Mr. Bernstein says. 'She would skate, and I would play golf.' He asked his wife to golf with him. She gave him a pair of skates.
Mr. Bernstein admitted he was scared. Ms. Bernstein took him to a rink where he would be unlikely to see anyone he knew. She taught him to 'walk like a duck' with a side-to-side glide. He was practicing in a corner of the rink─'crouched down, my heart racing, petrified of falling,' he recalls─and a 10-year-old boy skated up and said, 'Hey, Mr. Bernstein. You wanna race?' Behind him was his snickering father, an attorney Mr. Bernstein knows from a rival firm
Mr. Bernstein stuck with it, and now the couple travels to national competitions, goes on Saturday night skate dates and takes their young grandchildren to the rink. 'I'm never going to play for the Rangers, but it's a fun thing to do together,' Mr. Bernstein says. 'It keeps things from getting boring,' Ms. Bernstein says.
Mr. Nelson, meanwhile, read the beekeeping book. 'I thought, maybe this isn't so bad,' says the 49-year-old university purchasing agent in Orem, Utah. He agreed to go with his wife to a beekeepers meeting, then to classes. Three years ago, they bought two hives, two bee suits and 24,000 honeybees.
On the way home from the bee distributor, with the honeybees buzzing in boxes in the back of their station wagon, Ms. Nelson, a 49-year-old author and professor of education and behavioral science, felt elated. Her husband was sweating and planning his escape route. 'I thought I'd made a big mistake,' he says. But after they'd set up the hives, Mr. Nelson watched the bees fly in and out and was amazed at what the two had accomplished.
The first time they extracted honey, the bees swarmed them and somehow got inside Mr. Nelson's pants. He promptly stripped them off, neighbors be damned.
Now, though, the couple is a beekeeping team, dividing responsibilities and communicating carefully about who will do which tasks.
'If you create fun, enriching experiences together, you reinvent yourself and your marriage,' Ms. Nelson says. 'You look at your partner in awe.'