Relationships: The New

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend! For those serving or working in a service industry who therefore had to sacrifice their weekend so that the rest of us could enjoy blowing things up and roasting marshmallows, I thank you.

Last week my colleagues and I celebrated the union of two of our coworkers (to each other, which was great fun). As a bit of a dig our team lead asked us to go around and give the newlyweds a piece of advice from our experience in relationships, long or short. Here are some of those I can remember–I’ll weigh in on my thoughts and I’d love to hear yours.

“Listen to your wife.”
I would argue that this should be “Listen to your special someone,” and it should be noted that “listen to” is not the same as “obey.” Although my coworker probably meant it that way. Communication is 95% active listening and 5% talking, so this is really valuable advice. And if your SO is not the talkative type, it’s even more important that you listen carefully to avoid missing the important stuff. There’s a country song that says “I knew her hair, her eyes, her clothes…but I paid no attention to what mattered most.” Speaking as someone who has a propensity for steamrolling my competition, this is vital advice for me.

“Friendship before romance.”
This is partially accurate. I believe what he meant to say is that enjoying each others’ company and a good cuddle on the couch are more important than having a constant spark that means you can’t keep your hands off each other. They each have their place, and sexual excitement is vital–but can be coaxed and coached. Friendship is harder to create if it wasn’t the initial basis for a relationship. That’s why it’s important to know each other–and not have your whole relationship based off of the kids.  

“If she says she doesn’t want anything for a special event, she’s lying.”
Ugh, this is probably true, but came from a really cynical point of view that goes back to communication. Only a select kind of communication style will even say “I don’t want anything” and not mean it, so this is a situational piece of advice.

“Always celebrate your anniversary.”
True true true–and do something special for it, not just dinner. Jamie and I began a tradition of celebrating our “half” anniversary our first year together, and we still do it now. We have a wonderful time in mid-December before the true insanity of the holidays settles in–and it has paid 0ff time and again. Time away from the rest of the world refreshes our spirits. Don’t just celebrate, get away–even if it’s just a hotel in town.

“Be patient.”
Only a jerk would disagree with this one, though patience is not the same thing as tolerating abuse. Remember that you are both in it for the long haul. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and think of the positive things that they have done lately. Don’t focus on this thing you wanted from them now that didn’t happen. People are not computers.

“Remember that just because you walk away doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it later.”
If you’re hot under the collar and they’re hot under the collar, you’re both right and both wrong. Walk away from the conversation. Come back later when you’ve both had time to think–not just about the argument, but about how the relationship is more important than the argument. No matter what the topic.“Make sure your core interests are the same.”
This is a tough one if you’re already married/committed, but I feel like it’s an evolving process. Jamie and I only had barely passing interests in common when we met, but through years together we’ve developed a liking for many of the same things–foods, teas, sci fi, etc. There are still many things that don’t overlap, but I think that the vital other importance is that both members of the relationship get some self time too–hanging out with people who aren’t each other. Provided those people are supportive of them as individuals and as a couple. Unsupportive friends are bad news for a relationship.

“No matter how hectic things get, always have a date night.”
This one was mine, and it was a piece of advice I got from a very wealthy and wise individual who has had a great marriage despite lots of crazy occurrences. Date night without the kids is vital. And don’t always double date. Get away from the responsibilities of anyone except each other, and agree not to talk about the kids/bills/anything negative. Just enjoy each other. If kids are making the romance difficult, let them stay the night somewhere and plan to have sex. It might take a couple of weeks (or months) for “planned” sex to seem exciting, but you will find that it brings back that anticipatory spark, no matter what combination of genders are involved in your relationship. I recommend using something like Groupon and finding interesting new restaurants and activities that you have never done before–like Wine and Art, Mini Golf, Murder Mysteries, Horseback Riding, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Some other pieces of advice were bandied about, but I found most of them unhelpful.
If you’re single or have been together with someone a day or a decade, what has been successful for you? If “nothing” is the answer, then what are you doing wrong? No “I’m just a nice guy/gal” comments here, please–constructive conversation is the key to personal enlightenment through the company of others.

2 thoughts on “Relationships: The New

  1. Allie says:

    Talking is good. Talking is best. Talk. My SO and I were blah for a bit because all he likes to do is play Space WoW on the couch while I’m a gym rat during the week. It’s how we differently deal with the stress of crappy, low paying jobs. But it means we never see each other in the evenings during the week. So we talked about it and agreed to take walks with each other and do most of our grand hanging outs during the weekend. We had a date night for a while, but it got too expensive, so we just walk and play frisbee and watch movies. Well, I watch movies, he plays Space WoW while the movie is playing. Our idea of a get away is camping somewhere. Afford a hotel? Pah! I still hate Space WoW, but it am not AS pissy about it now. Talking is good.

  2. Lanine says:

    Compromise isn’t always a bad word, if it’s done mutually. You aren’t the same person as your SO, so don’t expect to want to do EVERYTHING together. Sometimes you’re going to have to do something you don’t enjoy… and your spouse will adore you for it. Just remember that, the next time your spouse does the same for you!

    Having the same interests is great, but when you’re married to a person that changes their interests like water… it’s hard to keep up, and sometimes you’re going to blow them off because you “obviously wouldn’t be interested in that.” Not always true! Give it a good go before you decide, and occasionally go back and retry because YOUR interests may have changed as well. And if you are still not interested? Don’t bash it… it’s what they love. Let them do what makes them happy, eventually you’ll find something else that makes you BOTH happy, together.

    Love each other every day. Touch each other (and I don’t mean that in the dirty way. Touching is key to an emotional relationship) every day. Find something, small or large, to show your appreciation. Having sex is great if you can manage it… but otherwise a quick cuddle on the couch is just as good. A silly cheap gift, a moment spent adoring each other, reaching out and touching them and telling them just how much you love them.. randomly. Just because. Anything, as long as it’s together. Every. Day.

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