Tag Archives: love

Marriage: Live, Learn, and Prosper

For my stepdaughter’s upcoming bachelorette weekend, attendees have been asked to offer a piece of marriage advice. Below are some observations to ponder, serious and otherwise.

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  • “A wedding may require a team of professionals; a marriage only requires two amateurs.”
  • “It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” ~Rita Rudner
  • “In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar. They still are.”
  • “Marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”
  • “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.”
    ~Benjamin Franklin”
  • “Marriage is the bond between a person who never remembers anniversaries and another who never forgets them.”
    ~Ogden Nash
  • “The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they’re too old to do it.” ~Anne Bancroft
  • “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”

On a less-snarky note, the following is a good checklist for how to get along in any long-term partnership. Condensed here, so click for the full article.

Remember Your Commitment
Life is busy and unpredictable. You both signed up to ride together during whatever comes your way. A foundation of love and caring helps you get through the tough times.

Assume the Best of One Another
Unless you’re married to a total rotter, your partner probably means the best. Even if they piss you off — and they will — their intentions were likely pure. So, as a general rule, assume you both have each other’s best interests in mind. (Unless proven otherwise.)

Don’t Ever Stop Trying
Make the commitment to keep being generous, showing appreciation, and saying thank you more than you probably are. Being taken for granted is never sexy.

Stop Stonewalling
This is the act of shutting down during an argument. The person stonewalling stops responding and maintains a calm exterior, which tells their partner that they don’t care at all about what they’re saying. What to do instead? Ask for a break. Then return to the discussion — sooner rather than later — when you’re ready.

Communicate Respectfully
Argue and attack the issues at hand without getting defensive, digging up the past and throwing it in the other’s face, dismissing a partner’s experience, or any other caustic habit.

Always Be Flexible
Life’s full of surprises, not always pleasant ones. A couple’s ability to ‘go with the flow’ – especially when it’s dramatically different from what they expected – gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and get to know each other in ways they might never have known before.

Curiosity Saves Couples
Your partner will likely change over time, so being open to the ways in which he or she changes can allow you to identify the ways you’ve changed as well. Shared curiosity — learning a new skill, hobby, traveling, etc. — creates new opportunities to bond.

Be Willing to Grow and Learn
Everyone screws up, says dumb things, gets stuff wrong. It’s all about how people react that defines a relationship. Being willing to admit mistakes, and apologize sincerely, is an important key in creating a deeper bond with your partner.

Stop Invalidating
This type of belittling can be incredibly destructive to a relationship, implying that what they’re doing or saying means they must be either crazy, stupid, or some combination of the two. It can happen in a quick, almost casual manner (“That’s ridiculous”), or it can be passive-aggressive, telling a partner how they should react before you even speak (“Don’t freak out, but I have to tell you something…”). Marriages thrive on mutual trust, respect, and security. Without this, the relationship will eventually corrode.

Prioritize Sex and Date Nights
When you’re busy, this means putting it on a schedule and sticking to it. Like other self-care activities (e.g., going to the gym) if you don’t block time out in your schedule, it’s not going to happen. Especially if you have young kids.

Get on the Same Page
Whether it’s how and what involvement the in-laws will have, how many activities the kids should participate in, or even when/if to have children, having the same priorities builds trust and reduces stress.

Learn How to Move On From Arguments
Disagreement is unavoidable in any marriage — as are spats, snipes, and all-out fights. “It’s important to talk about what happened afterward and own your part,” says one marriage and family therapist.

Laugh it Up
If you can laugh together, you can survive anything.

Always Be Validating
Having your partner listen, appreciate, and understand you speaks to a basic need for connection. It’s okay to disagree, as long as you respect each other.

Stop Obsessing Over Who Wins
When couples respect each other, they can accept not being right in favor of maintaining a healthy balance. Successful couples choose their battles, knowing that closeness can sometimes be more satisfying than being right.

Make Time for Self-Care
Don’t just take care of your spouse; look after yourself. That means exercising regularly, eating well, getting enough sleep, and making regular doctor and dentist appointments. Investing in yourself and your own well-being shows your partner that you want to be at your best for them.

Pay Attention to the Little Things
For couples who have mutual respect, small gestures are second-nature. A simple love note, a slightly longer hug or kiss goodbye can make your partner feel validated and appreciated.

Give One Another Space
It’s important to be supportive and engaged with your spouse. But you also can’t hover over them and try and solve all their problems for them. Have enough faith in each other to know when to step back and let them handle something on their own.

S.W.A.K.*

Happy Valentine’s Day! What do I love, besides my husband, children, friends, and you, my dear readers? This week’s find: Clinique’s Chubby Stick in my-lips-but-better Fuller Fig, a rosy brown. (If you have less pink you might like the Curviest Caramel shade.)

The product has been around for years but somehow I never tried it. The moisturizing lip balm gives a subtle wash of color and feels light, not gloppy.  Won’t feather like lipstick or run like a gloss.

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Basic, and yet rather elegant in its functionality.

Hope you have a wonderful day and celebrate the one who loves you best: yourself!

A Punch List for Relationships

If you’ve ever been through a renovation or built a new house, you know that after 99% of the work is done, there are little lingering issues someone needs to come back and fix.

hammer craftsman tools construction

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Wouldn’t it be great if we could similarly correct all of our partner’s flaws, foibles, and idiosyncrasies? Then they’d be perfect, right?

Wrong! In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s remember that we don’t need to “fix” either ourselves or our partners — unless there’s something really egregious going on.

grey metal hammer

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Imperfection keeps life interesting.

But I’d sure like our contractor to repaint the places where door locks had to be moved, repair the dent in the kitchen sink, and replace the wonky floorboard and kitchen cabinet door.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and those you love!

three red heart balloons

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In Praise of Like

As a preteen, “liking” a boy was the highest form of attachment. Somewhere along the way, though, like was deemed second best to “love”. If you liked someone, that meant you were (only) friends but if you loved them, well, that was the romantic ideal.

I’ve been thinking lately that we shortchange ourselves when love supersedes like.

Shouldn’t our romantic partners/spouses etc. also be our close friends? People whom we respect, admire, enjoy and actually like? If those who set our hearts a-flutter are also good company, doesn’t that have more staying power?

Something else I liked this week: some hints on motivation.

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We usually know what we ought to be doing at any given moment – begin a project, get out and exercise, etc. — but feeling motivated enough to start may be more of a challenge.

So when I read this trick to outsmart your brain, it caught my attention.

A woman named Mel Robbins started researching the science behind motivation and discovered that our brains have an innate need to protect us. When we’re stressed, afraid, or in pain, our mind will keep us from doing the uncomfortable activity by communicating, “It’s ok, you don’t need to do that; do this instead”.

It’s not necessarily a lack of willpower or commitment that keeps us from pursuing what we ought to; it seems to be an innate response we can train ourselves to override.

Ms. Robbins has given talks and written a book about her 5-second rule and how to use it in every area of your life. It’s quite simple: when you find yourself procrastinating, count backward from 5 and then begin the activity. Apparently, it’s a form of metacognition that interrupts the excuses. Here’s more detail if you’re interested.

This sounds very cool and I’m going to use it right now to make myself pull some pesky weeds.

Or maybe after lunch….

The Upside of Bad Relationships

This year, two friends have become widows at a young age and I’ve been thinking how hard it must be to lose your partner, especially if you were together for a long time.

This in turn has led me to contemplate the opposite situation: how liberating it is to get rid of a bad relationship. Let’s talk about that instead of something sad.

Think about it: there’s a lot to appreciate about a crappy relationship!

The Upside While You’re In It

  • You can concentrate your anger and frustration on one individual instead of spreading it around
  • You develop a rich fantasy life, often involving that person being hit by a car or falling off a cliff
  • Your own faults pale by comparison
  • Your life is much more dramatic
  • There’s always a new story to share with your friends
  • You become much more knowledgeable about alcohol
  • You can be sure your tear ducts are working
  • There’s usually ice cream in the house

And When It’s Over

  • Your murderous rage subsides
  • You don’t have to watch endless sports/chick flicks
  • You’re no longer subjected to someone else’s bodily functions
  • You’re free from your partner’s annoying friends and family
  • You can wear, eat and do whatever you want
  • You can have sex with yourself, which is probably an improvement
  • You have lots more free time
  • You only have to attend your own boring business events
  • You’ll really appreciate a GOOD relationship