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.
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.
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.
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.