I got married young. I’m still the only one of my friends that is married. My husband andI not only love each other, but we really LIKE each other too. I’m also an opinionated know-it-all with a heart of gold. This has turned me into the relationship oracle with my friends. So I figure, why not share these bounteous pearls of wisdom with the world?
Everyone says communication is key. Seriously, what the fuck does that even mean? What it definitely does NOT mean is telling your significant other about your every emotion as you have them. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about knowing when to talk and when to just shut the bollocks up. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean it helps you, him/her or the relationship to say so. Same goes with ‘feelings’. Pick your moments and pick the stuff that actually matters. The rest is just noise that will get in the way.
Pretend to care about the crap that’s important to them, even if you think it’s retarded. I suppose this falls into the ‘be kind’ mantra. You do it with your friends so why not your lover? I did not want to pay a bazillion dollars to see Lady Gaga, but I did because my BFF thought the Lady would put on a good show (for the record, meh). I’m not suggesting you have to spend your weekend at the Formula One watching cars drive round and round REALLY loudly, but cut the dude a little slack: buy him a ticket for his birthday, look at the photos afterwards and ask him about his experience.
Next, be kind. Be polite and respectful. When a friend or colleague irritates you, what do you do? I’m pretty sure you don’t snort derisively at them and call them an idiotic douche – to their face. More likely, you internally roll your eyes and say nothing. You let that shit go; until it crosses a line of course. When said line is crossed you don’t yell at them; you pick your moment, quietly pull them aside and attempt to have a reasoned conversation about it. Sure you bitch to your other friends in the meantime and call the idiotic douche an idiotic douche. That’s how you let off steam so that you can then have a calm discussion with the subject of your irritation.
There’s no such thing as right and wrong. There’s just a whole lotta grey. Even in the worst of the worst situations. No matter how horrendously one person behaves, you have to ask yourself, “How did I contribute to this situation? What could I have done differently?” You can’t change other people’s behaviour. Ever. You can ask them to change. One thing you can change is how you affect a situation.
You always have a choice. When idiotic douche pisses you off or hurts you, you tell them how you feel. The sucky part is that they too have a choice. They are allowed to choose to care about themselves more than you. The choice you have is how you deal with that. I mean you have been poorly done by so you have a right to your anger, goddamit! All true. But do you want the relationship to be happy and satisfying or do you just want to be righteously right all the time?
Make yourself more interesting! Once someone knows all your stories you’ve got to make some new ones. Which means you’ve got to do interesting stuff by yourself or with people other than your GF/BF so you can come home and sound like you’ve actually got something to say and they actually want to listen.
When one of you screws up big time, you need to have a sizeable backlog of good memories in order to get through it. At the beginning it’s so good. So so good. If 6 months later BF pashes some chick in a bar, it’s pretty much a “see ya later”. If it happens 4 years later, you’ve got history and you’ve built up a foundation of good stuff that you don’t want to throw away. In order to trade off the bad experiences, you have to have invested in enough good beforehand to make it worthwhile.
Finally, don’t information overload. This is in the same vein as being more interesting. When you share the minutiae of the day as it happens via text message or whatever, what the hell are you supposed to talk about in the bus on the way home? Or at that rickety table in the local Vietnamese place?
Pearls, consider yourself shared. I do weddings, parties, bar mitvahs. Call my office anytime.*
* I am not a professional, just an annoying know-it-all who doesn’t actually know it all, at all.
words: Kristen Hodges