What marriage has taught me about relationships and love (so far) – Part II

December 6, 2013 LifeThoughts  One comment

My husband and I never considered divorce … murder sometimes, but never divorce.
Joyce Brothers

Continuing from my last post, these next few ideas are much more applicable to relationships in a day to day, real way.

So let’s jump right in ….

It is important to give each other space.
 Granted, I am probably on the far end of the spectrum when it comes to Neediness – but I am here to tell you, that it is OKAY to do your own thing. It’s okay to not go to bed at the same time. It’s okay if you want to go out on a Saturday night with your friends and leave your S.O. to their own devices. It’s okay if your S.O. wants to go out with their friends every once in a while without you there.

It’s healthy, nay vital, to have your own interests and hobbies and do things separate from each other. Not just for your sake, but for the sake of the relationship.

 

Lady Antebellum Concert with the girls - BFF, Tijana and #BestCousinEver Holly

Lady Antebellum Concert with the girls – BFF, Tijana and #BestCousinEver Holly

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to share activities and do things together. Just not everything.

There is such a thing as too much together time.

You know you’re suffering from TMTT when you experience three or more of the following symptoms:

– In the past month, you have not hung out with anyone besides your S.O.

– You often find yourself saying things like, “Andrew (swap with the name of your S.O.) and I this …” and “Andrew and I that …” and “Yesterday, we did this, the day before we did that ….” without ever saying things like “I went to the gym yesterday” or “I went to the movies with my friend Trish* the other day”

– Second to that, when people ask you what you did over the weekend or any other time, you answer using “We” not “I”

– Your friends have stopped asking you to hang out because you turn them down every single time to hang out with your S.O.

– You find yourself oddly irritated with the way your S.O. chews, brushes their teeth, sits on a chair, combs their hair, puts on their shoes, talks, breathes, uses a certain phrase repeatedly, etc.

– And as much as you’ve tried to contain you’re unreasonable and illogical irritation, you let it build until it just explodes on your S.O. in the most innocent and unsuspecting of times.

For example, your S.O. walks in from work and takes off their shoes next to the door (like you’ve asked), but they don’t line them up properly and that just sends you into a tizzy. Which then leads you to a laundry list of things they do wrong. It may look something like this, “OMG! Why can’t you EVER do ANYTHING the way I ask you to do? You can’t put your shoes away right. You ALWAYS leave gobs of toothpaste in the sink. Who does that?! You NEVER put the dishes away. I ALWAYS have to do the laundry. The way you BREATHE it just drives me CRAY-ZAY! Can you just NOT sit there like THAT? You’re doing it WRONG.” You get the picture. Note the use of always and never: exaggeration much?

– You’re opinion is their opinion. No matter what. (It’s good to agree on most things, but there’s NO WAY you agree on everything. Your tastes in beverage, for example, may differ. Ie: he thinks Root Beer is the best, you think Shirley Temple’s are the best.)

So take a breather. Spending time with your S.O. is obviously important and necessary, just give each other a little bit of room. Okay? Which brings me to my next point.

*I don’t actually have a friend named Trish, but doesn’t she just seem like the kind of girl you’d want to hang out with and go to the movies with?

For goodness sake’s let him play video games.

Ladies, before you quit reading, let me explain.

Listen, don’t take it personally, but sometimes guys would just rather play their mind-numbing/violent/loud video games instead of spending time with you.

Hubby's Current Obsession  Image: Moddb.com

Hubby’s Current Obsession
Image: Moddb.com

For me, this works out perfectly because my husband doesn’t start playing video games until I go upstairs to read and go to bed. But there are definitely lots of times on the weekends and holiday breaks, where significant amounts of his time are taken up by killing zombies on the computer screen. (In fairness, at least he’ll be somewhat prepared should this ever be a real-life scenario. So that’s a plus.)

 

Actually, that looks like a lot of fun.  Image: Walldime.com

Actually, that looks like a lot of fun.
Image: Walldime.com

I’ve learned that letting him have this time without complaining is so important for him to de-stress and decompress. I know that he has a lot of burdens and responsibilities on his shoulders (as do most grown-ups) and this is his way of kicking back and relaxing (not unlike Lifetime movies, pints of Bed & Jerry’s, wine, and bubble baths are for women – did I just stereotype there? Apologies. Swap them out for the activity that helps you unwind – did your mind just go to a dirty place? I bet it did!)

So it’s okay if he wants to spend an hour or two playing video games at night instead of watching American Idol with you. It’s not okay, however, if all he does is play video games and ignore you. Or if you’re feeling that his relationship to his player, kill shots, and Experience Points are more important to him than you are. So …

Define your expectations.

I think this is pretty basic and something that needs to be done at the beginning of any relationship, but especially when you are married or live together or are in a serious, committed relationship.

Let the other person know what you expect of them, what your boundaries are, etc.

For example, there has been a time when said video games have taken precedent over our relationship. I’ve been guilty of this as well when it comes to a really good book series I’m reading or binging on whole seasons of TV shows (damn you, Netflix!). And we’ve had to take a time-out and talk about it.

I told him (in neutral, non-blaming terms) that I don’t expect him to stop playing video games all-together, but if he could keep it to 2-3 hours a night so that it didn’t consume his life and push other things (like me and work and the dog) onto the back burner, it would be appreciated.

I also told him I don’t expect every single day to be a romance novel, but during dinner or whenever, when I am talking to you – just listen! Really listen! Give me that half hour or so of your undivided attention at the end of the day so I can talk to you, and then you can go do whatever it is you want to do.

And I don’t expect every single date night to be caviar (gross!) and champagne by the fireplace, but at least one date out of the month should be quote-on-quote romantical. (Yes, I’m aware that’s not a real word. Sue me.)

When you define your expectations, be clear, clear, and realistic. And hold up your end of the bargain.

Pick your battles.

It is in your best interest to pick your battles when it comes to nit-picking and demanding things of your S.O. If you approach them with a list a mile long of the things you want them to change about themselves or the way they live, it is only going to upset them and it will just not work.

I mean, how would you feel if your partner approached you today and said, “Yeah, if you could just, you know, restructure your whole personality, maybe do a major overhaul on how you do things, do a little nip-tuck here and there with those annoying habits of yours, and while you’re at it, do you mind taking the trash out? Thanks, love.”

So figure out what you absolutely cannot deal with for another day longer and tackle those issues first.
I find it helpful to work on three things at a time. So I would pick three things that were really bothering me, and ask him to adjust them (nicely). For example, 1. Put your dishes in the dishwasher, 2. Pick up  your clothes off the floor, and 3. Don’t slam the door and cabinets after you take the dog out at night when I’m sleeping. Thanks.

Then, ask them what three things you can work on to improve the relationship. “What me?” You ask. “But I’m perfect.”

No, you’re not.

And you know what, your partner/spouse/S.O. loves you anyway. Remember that.

 

Thanks for coming back to check out this post! And next week will be the third and final installment in what has now become a series. I will, of course, post it on Facebook, but if you so desire, you can sign up for email alerts on new blog posts at the top right-hand side of this page.

I’d love to hear your comments and what you think. So let me know here on the blog or on Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

If you haven’t yet, check out Part I and Part III of What marriage has taught me about relationships and love (so far)

Until next time, farewell, and may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.

Featured image (top of post) by Stephanie Decker, BP Studio.

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