The little things…

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.

Transmogrified, Evil Villain…

Life is great!  I am happy!  Cough…Happy!  Cough cough!  What the heck is going on?  Hmmm, there is a wee tickle in my throat.  Ahem, ahem…cough cough.  HACK-COUGH!   My nose is itchy.  What is this?  There is leakage from my nasal passages.  Grab a facial tissue and blow my nose.  Blow again.  One more time!  Phew!  Think I got it all.  Great!  Wait a minute.  I can’t hear anymore.  What is going on?  I don’t have a fever or anything.  What new strain of evilness is this?  Yes, it appears I have a cold.  If it is so normal then why do I feel so AB-normal?

I have become a transmogrified evil villain!  I am usually the upbeat “Pollyanna” type rooting for everything good in the world!  “You can do this!”  I exclaim.  “Live in denial!” I yell to myself.  This self-lie usually works to trick my body into thinking that I am not ill.  It’s not real.  I can get past this.  Yet, here I am on day 9 (yes day 9) and I have managed to get hearing back in one ear.  The Super Cough has diminished to a mere whisper of its previous potency.  My bruised ribs have finally stopped screaming at me so I guess I actually did not crack any ribs in cough-a-lot episodes.  My sinuses…oh my…those beauties made my eyes look like fish eyes…all bulgy and watery.  Why am I describing my ailments?  I believe it is vitally important to share information that might make others feel better about their life situation, knowing that there are “others” like them.

To be honest, the reason I bring up my gross illness is because I have become a horrible human being.  I have become an uber, ugly, vindictive “reality show” type personality on the person I love.

When you get sick as a parent, you are not allowed to show weakness.   You are the doctor.  You are the nurse.  You are the most patient and understanding person in their lives.  When they say their teardrop hurts their cheek, it’s a reality you need to remedy to make them sleep.  However, when the children are out of the house and you become ill, you finally get to plead illness (and insanity).  Who gets the brunt of your illness woes?  Your bestie!  The person who will always be there for you through thick and thin.  It’s true right?

Think about it.  Wiseguy told me right from the beginning that one crucial element of a good relationship is:  COMMUNICATION!  For those of you who do not understand what that means, I shall simplify.  If there is something that is bothering you and you are holding it inside instead of talking about it, that means you are NOT communicating.  This would be a perfect example of my parent’s household.

In my parents house if you were upset, you held it in because there was no point in discussing issues.  Parents were always right.  Siblings?  No talk…more about actions and getting even (bwahaha!).  So, now I had to learn this “talk” thing.

For those of you who were taught manners and behaving properly and “be sure not to offend anyone” this was a difficult task.  After several years I got the hang of it.  It’s not about yelling and picking on each other, it’s actually discussing things, in adult words, no F-bombs.  It’s sharing thoughts, ideas, opinions.  It really does work.  Well, it works while you are both of sound mind.  When one gets sick, sense and sensibility gets thrown out and the evil “sick” monster takes over.

As previously mentioned, I have been the caretaker for many.  If I did get ill (i.e.”West Nile Virus), I still had my father-on-law come to me whilst I was lying on the couch and ask me: “What’s for dinner?”  Yes, it’s true.  When children get sick, parents don’t get timeouts.  It doesn’t matter how tired you are, the children are most important and one day you hope you will have time to sleep.  So, here I am, 20 years later, sick myself, and I am incorrigible.

I have been apologizing to Wiseguy on an almost hourly basis!  Why?  Because I am yelling at him for not speaking loudly enough for me to hear him.  My ears are plugged.  When my one ear canal finally opened up I complained that he was talking too loudly.  Even better… he now has whatever ailment I have and I am complaining when he can’t hear me!  I am agitated.  I am irritated!  I can’t hear properly.  I keep throwing verbal darts at Wiseguy.  He can do nothing right.  He made me a beautiful breakfast and I complained about the pan he used.  Cruel!?  For sure!

So, this little story is two-fold:

To Cold Sufferers:  You are not in your normal state of mind.  When you find that you are going crazy and verbally assaulting those you love, remember to apologize for being an intolerable pain.

To my hubby:  You are the best!  You should get hazard pay for dealing with my psycho-sicko mood swings.  I’m here for you.  (I hear you coughing right now.  Thanks for letting me share my unhealthy goodness with you!  Bwahaha!)

P.S.  Although I am of the elder-world, I find that many children’s books can simply explain life’s difficulties.  As adults we find “big words” to explain our life situations.  Over the past few days, in my whiny state of mind, I thought about how “horrible” I felt and recalled one of my all time favourite stories.  It made me laugh out loud (nowadays known as LOL):  Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Do you have a favourite storybook?  If so, what is so special about it?