Relationship Booster: Set the Mood in Scenic Saigon 

Buddhist Temple in Vietnam

Buddhist Temple in Vietnam taken by J. M. Wilder Bill

A sure-fire way to reset the idyllic images you shared between your loved ones and yourself is by exploring a historic destination together. My family and I roamed Saigon together and I’d classify it as a wildly exotic city.

In fiction, Saigon is portrayed as the romanticized metropolitan where men fall deeply in love during warfare and women weep bitterly when the treaties are signed. Saigon was the capital of South Vietnam during the long war that sacrificed lives from all over the world. The new generation as of 1976 grew up with Saigon’s revamped image under the name of a previous North Vietnamese leader credited for gaining independence for Vietnam in 1945, Ho Chi Minh City.

Like many history buffs, my husband gets excited about standing in a place he’s seen in the news as having great political significance. We made a point to touch the Reunification Palace gates where a tank was televised for destroying the barrier and seizing the territory as an end to the Vietnam War. When South Vietnam fell, the country reunited as a communist society.

To appeal to my gentler qualities, we strolled through Ho Chi Minh City’s French colony that was established around 1856 and lasted into 1945. The elegant style is evident in the clean architecture and artistic pockets in the street layouts. The French colonial district still feels alive with the dashing reporters and the dare-devil media cast in noir detective mysteries.

We appreciated the retro-accommodations in the Rex Hotel, the Caravelle Hotel, and the Hotel Majestic. It is a town conducive to couples bonding under atmospheric sightseeing at the City Post Office and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. 

When we returned home, my dear local Vietnamese friends became sentimental at seeing photos of the community where they lived. They had a home around the corner from the post office and I was able to better understand the difficult choice they made in leaving an endearing town they cherished to live so far from their relatives. I was able to show that I valued her walk through life by taking time to educate myself on her customs and challenges. I would touched by her keeping a few photos of me in her hometown as a memento of our growing closer. 

Like many towns, Ho Chi Minh City has a hidden gems. Each museum warranted a day of attention because not only are filled with artwork, they contain perfectly preserved pre-historic artifacts. With Vietnam having ideal geography for waterway transportation and creating a barrier against warring countries, it has been invaded continuously going back to pre-historic times. Cambodian relics and ancient mythological statuary were discovered nearby, showing how resourceful their ancestors were in surviving raids and famines. 

The museum also provides quaint innocence. Children put on theatrical puppet productions with fireworks over an elaborate temple and characters dancing in water.

We felt an emotional moment when we visited the last site televised at the end of the Vietnam War. A helicopter landed on the roof of an apartment building in downtown Saigon to evacuate a select few Americans. This was the last evacuation.

Once the helicopter was out of site, the townspeople broke into chaos. Vietnamese families crowded the streets, burning papers and any other evidence that suggested they were in cahoots with someone from the United States.

Another romantic element is the Shangri-La mood within the narrow back streets. Not every aspect of Ho Chi Minh City was influenced by Western civilizations. The people were careful to protect the elaborate Buddhist temples modestly tucked between modern skyscrapers.

To peek inside a temple that is open to non-practitioners, you must venture into the depths of the authentic community. Your senses are rewarded with heady incense, bold decorations and abundant candles. The statues portray images of peacefulness and centeredness. My family and I were overcome with the calming effects of respect shown by the practitioners upon their entering the shaded sanctuary.

A way to boost the love ratio while traveling with loved ones is by taking time to venture outside the developed communities. We experienced a harmonious mood from spending time in the countryside. Outside the cities, Vietnam is green with nature. Rich shades of greenery cushion cottages and airy restaurants. The landscape shifts into an energized good-earth. 

In the rural areas, tables are immaculately set up to sell antiques and unique Asian relics. Booklets of stamps and vintage currency offer history and artwork at low prices. Fresh fruit is a delicacy. The lush fauna allows you to easily connect with Earth. It’s as if the landscape whispers Yanni songs while polite and tailored locals attentively sell their products. You feel as though you’ve meditated and practiced yoga for weeks after a clean meal. Natural fabrics and cleansing vibes permeate the calming effects of tailored gardens. Leaving town is like entering a spa spread across hills if paradise.

If you love history and reconnecting with the Source energy, Vietnam is the place. Refugees return to visit on family and realign with their heritage. The country emits soothing energy, however there is pollution issue in the cities and coastal communities due to manufacturing. A sense of devastation from the war lingers over the residents. Although the city is sensitive to the effects from the war, the raw beauty flourishes, budding into an inspiration for feeling the love of mankind within your family and amongst your neighbors.

Random Acts of Kindness

If you are in a tumultuous relationship, whether with a coworker or friend, you can disassociate with him to end the conflict. But what happens when you stay? While ending a relationship guarantees the situation will turn out well, you gain from persevering through the difficult periods. 

The answer is hidden beyond the undesirable moments. An eye for an eye goes on for infinity, however, you can break the cycle. The times my siblings and I had a disagreement, my father would take each of us aside and say, “It takes two to make an argument.” This blanket statement never seemed logical to me because there were two of us, and we were arguing. 

The way to end an argument is by breaking the chain of disharmony. When you find yourself at odds with someone for longer than you want, stop reacting. Observe what effects follow.

You can resolve conflicts through random acts of kindness. You can end the warfare without actually feeling kind. It’s the act that makes the difference.

For example, if your nemesis is in a mint gum chewing phase, grab a pack when you are in a check out line and leave out for him to find. You don’t have to explain or give away your power. Simply let him choose how to interpret the act. 

You don’t have to be engaging when he asks where it came from. A shrug will suffice because it’s the randomness of the act that gives it impact.

Tell him you like something he is wearing or a thing he owns, or anything at all about his family or work. Certainly, try to comment on what you do like because there must be something, but don’t struggle over whether he deserves to hear a nice word, or whether you like it enough to say something. 

The acts can remain minuscule but make a point to do one kind thing each day. No matter how angry or inconsiderate your nemesis is, the tiny gestures of positive energy will accumulate. A small dose of goodness has a higher frequency than a pound of bad. A little kindness carries the weight of several years’ worth of ill-will. 

Your good acts will modify your nemesis’ reactions. Perhaps the unpleasant gestures are out of habit. For him to realize you thought of him that day, you took a moment to do something helpful, changes the way the two of you relate to one another. You steer the chain of events off the circular path. 

You can increase the level of love you experience through your random acts of kindness. Consider it a gift for both of you.

What’s Your Favorite Type of Romance?

Every story has a romantic element. The ebb and flow of the arc of a relationship includes scenes where the heroine and the hero share a moment of intimacy, acknowledge their connection, and share the love. 

The type of romance you love reveals the issues you are facing in your life. The issues in your life tend to crop up in your plot. Do you long for a knight to rescue you at sunset? Are you debating over whether you deserve love? Is there a particular kind of man you keep finding in your life? Which type of romance is your favorite?  

Complicated Relationships

Romance adores those indiscretions that no relationship could withstand in real life. A novel is fiction, after all, and it is a playground for intertwining a variety of relationships. The gossipy tidbits we love to uncover provide scandalous scenarios for storytelling. If the actions of either the man or woman would be an embarrassment, then it belongs in a scandalous plot, but not without the lead couple pulling themselves out of the chaos for a happily ever home-life.

The Boys Out West

A romantic man possesses the courage and skills for survival. He has mastered his abilities to take the materials available and outwit nature. Once he meets the heroine, he views her as being important enough to belong in his clan. He doesn’t have to debate over when to apply his savvy wits. He knows he’s specially gifted at enduring hardships, and he accepts his duty to share his gifts with others by saving their lives, too. Feeling safe and protected reminds the heroine she is valued, and those are romantic feelings. 

The Double Trick Back

Romance fills the pages with sensuous fabrics, melodic voices and manicured landscapes, and yet, these hyped up images of indulgence set the tone for the villain of the novel to fall for the heroine. No matter how bad his deeds are, if the atmosphere is right, and the girl understands the impact of his sordid background, the two can overlook his hurtful mood swings and rude words. For the girl to find love with a mean man, the story must establish why he grew into the unappealing person, and it must allow his motive to be justified. The story wraps up with the villain recognizing his flaws and the heroine offering him forgiveness. 

A Sensitive Man

A romantic setting cannot unfold without the hero getting in touch with his feelings. He shares his affections with the girl either through his tender actions or his caring words. He doesn’t have to be a gentle man, just a guy who can’t resist the warm and fuzzy feeling in his gut when he’s near the woman.

Bad Boys

Ladies have an innate ability to nurture an injured soul. Those bad boys aren’t really thoughtless and stern. It’s just a shell and the perfect match for him is the only heroine with a magical key to unlock his heart. The allure of rogue heroes is in the lady playing a feminine role of the rescuer. She wears the armor and she is the savior willing to invest in his happiness. 

Rich Hero to the Rescue

Contemporary novels adore the super rich man because in modern times, wealth gives him power. Add to the mix a girl with simple tastes, and you have tension. The man’s typical methods for winning over the heart of a desirable woman falls on deaf ears when she values integrity, honesty, and kindness instead. The free pleasures in life create romantic settings. A walk through the woods picking wildflowers, a treasure hunt for seashells at sunset, or snuggling under blankets in her backyard, all guide the heart to falling in love. 

Type A Heroines

Women are stepping up to the plate when it comes to asserting themselves and living out their dreams. The days of passively watching the world swirl by are over, and the independence embraced by women create nifty conflicts in novels where the man didn’t get the memo about strong ladies having the will to get their way. These alpha girls aren’t just argumentative for the sake of creating tension. They have a goal to protect the hero, claim their own rights, and enjoy being in love.

Happily Ever After

A romance calls for everyone getting something she needs and a few things she wants in the end. The man wants to be in a relationship with her. The girl desires the life-changes the hero creates. Both consider the other to be a worthy partner, and attractive advocate. They belong together and for that reason, they will find happiness and peace in every hardship they will face throughout the rest of their lives. After all, there does need to be some truth in fiction.

The core of novel-writing revolves around the type of hero you portray in the story. The hero’s qualities play a role in developing the heroine’s character arc. For every action the man makes, the girl will respond, and her reaction must always create tension. 

Therefore, if the hero is rude, she will not mimic his tone. Hers will be in contrast to how he carries himself. If you create a strong-willed female, make sure to give the hero scenes where he can exhibit his emotional side. This touched-by-an-angel attitude can be presented through his work, where he cares for the sick or heals animals, or through his relationships with weak sub-characters, like an aging grandmother or an irresponsible little sister.

Knowing what you favor gives you the means to create a likable hero. You want to enjoy his company, and have fun when he’s in the scenes. The underlying feelings you have about a certain type of personality will surface in the tone of your dialogue and narrative. Pick your favorite type of romance, and share a description of the hero.

Tips on How Couples Stay Together

image of J. Wilder Bill with her spouse in Italy

Photo: Decades ago in Sorrento, Italy

Longevity in a marriage can seem daunting. The divorce rate is declining, yet the possibility of separating can linger in the air. An argument can set off a chain of emotions causing you to feel alone.

This alienation can cause you to want to escape the abandonment. A daily routine can leave you bored, which can shift into a combative way of communicating. Your spouse might seem uninspired by any loving attempts to recapture a friendly atmosphere. A defensive response might block the connection your spouse yearns to receive. 

Even when a couple shares a life of blessings, not every day is monumental. We compare ourselves with the sensationalized portrayals of daily living fed to us by the media, and convince ourselves our relationships are lacking. 

The difference between a couple that stays together and one that separates is — the couple who stays together chooses to stay together. 

The complicated part is that staying together means work. It requires self-reflection by both. The conflicts of divorced couples compared to the disputes within a marriage have core similarities. Although no spouse is encouraged to remain in jeopardy, sticking through the thin parts fulfills the romantic promise made when the relationship first blossomed. 

The term commitment has lost its glory and sends a jolt of fear up spines. It is associated with being denied the ability to leave a horrible situation. If you decide to suffer the unpleasantries, know that you are utilizing the power to create a change in your relationship. You have the option to reevaluate your position.

By changing your interpretation, you shift the tone in your voice. Altering the way you respond instills a change in the way your spouse perceives himself. Where he might have considered you to be the obstacle to his happiness, now he can view you as the one who can comfort him through his struggles. 

Couples who last do not necessarily resolve all of their issues. The point of arguing isn’t who is right, or how often one wins. They concede to disagree. This acceptance of differences can be silent.

Marriage is rarely fifty-fifty. There are times when no matter how right you are, you must put forth ninety-percent of the effort to let it go. 

I used to envy couples’ relationships who were considerate and respectful toward one another. They didn’t bicker over dinner or talk down to one another. They were content and cordial and calm. Years passed, and the relationships I idolized ended in divorce. 

Communication is not the matrimonial deal-breaker. Proper communication can place a strain on a relationship. Saying what is on your mind, even though it might encourage a round of disagreements, places a value to both opinions. A relationship where you are comfortable letting each other know where you stand is the result of having strong ties. The committed attitude by both sides makes each secure in saying what he thinks. 

How exactly does a person establish a bond strong enough to survive the differences in opinions? Neighbors will help another when it comes to noncommittal actions as large as rebuilding after a natural disaster all the way down to the small act of holding a door open. But, when faced with a loved one who takes his bad mood out on you, your primitive impulses might resist helping him get over whatever is on his mind. 

Once you get to know another by understanding his hardships and how they relate to the day he is having, you develop compassion for him. By embracing your spouse’s previous experiences, by visiting his hometown, and spending time with his family, you deepen your understanding of why he perceives life the way he does. You don’t have to agree with his viewpoints. By connecting the dots of where he’s coming from, you stop taking his moodiness personally. 

Opening ourselves to another is boosted through touch. The physical form of intimacy seals business deals with handshakes. A sick person is strengthened by a nurse resting her hand on his forearm. A friend going through difficulties feels empowered by a hug.

To intensify a relationship, it is best to touch, no matter how briefly, at least once a day. A pat on the arm while your spouse is driving might draw him out of worrying about a doomsday he fears will evolve. Through physical contact, our senses assure us we can trust someone who is willing to get close. 

Spending time together bonds a couple. It doesn’t have to be long hours every day. The intimacy can be short or periodic, but the time we invest in loved ones should include a relaxed mind. Some couples relax during a vacation. Others relax while watching television. There is no best way. The emphasis in the togetherness is for each to have an opportunity to share his thoughts and establish nonphysical touching. 

Nonphysical touching occurs when two share a laugh, when they share an adventure, and when they tell each other secrets. The point is to establish joint memories. Later, when you return to your busy lifestyle, you will recall the emotional sharing you experienced.

The memory doesn’t have to be a life-changing event. The fact you associate the other with something you enjoyed or survived or embraced solidifies your bond. Even listening to your spouse tell about an experience where he had success or happiness creates a modified memory where you are a part of those good times. 

You have the power to determine the outcome of your relationship. If you choose to stay, then you will stay. It is that simple. 

The complex element is the ability to stay, which for far longer periods of time than you might prefer, includes improving yourself. Self-sacrifice and longstanding efforts might seem unfair, but having longevity in a relationship fills you with gratification. No obstacle can eliminate the confidence you gain from knowing you succeeded.