I have learned a lot from Wiseguy about relationships. In the past, relationships to me meant I had to give it my all and expect nothing in return. It meant turning the other cheek or saying nothing, even if I was really upset because that was how you kept a relationship running…no issues, no problems and lots of denial. Through thick and thin. For better or for worse. Right? Here are some lessons I learned.
BE YOURSELF: Most people in relationships believe that they are being honest and truthful with themselves. Have you ever given up doing things you like to do because the person whom you are dating doesn’t like it? Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you are starting to do you things you don’t like to do. You pretend to like exercising or maybe you have become vegetarian because you think your partner will love you more since that is their preference. The same holds true for you trying to change the person you are with. Accept them for who they are. Oh sure, people grow and change, but becoming a totally different person just to please someone else is not how to live a happy life. Be happy with yourself and who you are. If you love being the yappy, talkative person in the room, don’t become the quiet, shy person when in a relationship. Be yourself.
SAY THANK YOU: When you first start dating, you are always on your best behaviour. You are also very polite and say please and thank you for every little thing. That should not change once you have been together for awhile. To this day, Wiseguy will thank me for any meal I have prepared. Even if he doesn’t like it, he will thank me for making it (and then politely ask me to never ever make it again). I used to tell him that he didn’t have to thank me. He explained that since I made the effort, he should thank me. The children were taught this as well. Just because you are Mom or Dad or Spouse, it doesn’t mean that your work should not be acknowledged in a positive way. Feeling appreciated makes for a happier home environment. Thanks for getting the groceries. Thanks for doing the laundry. Thanks for driving us to the party. Saying a meaningful “thanks” is always nice to hear.
SHOW APPRECIATION / GRATEFULNESS: When you are dating someone, buying little gifts and tokens of love are usually the modus operandi. After you have been together awhile the gift giving drops off and there is usually a daily routine that ensues. Certain chores are done by certain individuals. One person will do the cooking and one person will do the laundry. Someone will load the dishwasher and empty it. One will mow the lawn and / or shovel the snow (welcome to Canadian looooooooong winters). Indoor chores and outdoor tasks need to be completed. Now, when your life gets topsy turvy and your usual division of labour leaves you overwhelmed, it’s nice when that 50/50 split can become 70/30 without anyone griping about the sudden amount of work they have to do around the place. Yes, I am thinking of a specific example. I am the dishwasher loader/emptier and I am also the garbage-taker-outer. This week I had some additional errands to take care of and was exhausted just thinking about completing my at-home tasks. To my supreme delight I arrived home to find the waste and recycling by the curb, the dishwasher emptied, and the dishes put away. OH JOY! Yes, it is THAT simple to show appreciation. Wiseguy appreciated the fact that my life was a bit more hectic this week and I was grateful that he did this without my asking him.
COMMUNCATION: This is THE most important lesson I have learned. I would oftentimes assume that Wiseguy knew what I was thinking. More often than not, I would get angry with him about things that he had no clue I had even thought about. Not fair. Even worse, I learned the “silent treatment” from the master…my mother. Not a word spoken, while I slammed doors to make sure he knew I was upset. It would be up to him to figure out why I was upset. Adults tantrums are not pretty. As adults we have a vocabulary to be able to communicate what is on our minds. We are not mind readers. We cannot assume that other people know what we are thinking. So, if something is bothering you, take the time to talk about it. Those who do not communicate are the ones who let each little angry moment start a pyramid of disaster. Brick by brick it builds as you hold every bothersome incident inside and then suddenly CRASH! One little thing will have the whole pyramid of anger cascading down. Hurtful things will be said as you dig deep into your memory for past trangressions that the other person had no idea had been bothering you. Let it out. Talk it out.
Relationships are give and take. Relationships involve work. You are two people who used to live your own way, with your own rules and who now live together while trying to figure out whose rules would be the best to incorporate as a couple. Start off with these four simple rules and you’ll see how much easier this transition can be. More often than not, it’s the little things that can make it or break it.