To Love and Be Loved

We don’t generally do much in the annual exchange of cards, dead plants, and candy. Honestly, we don’t need a mass produced sentiment because we love each other every day. Also, I am excellent at killing my own plants.

Sure, we’re lucky, but it’s not all luck. And since I’m not a ECLFWWLINYAPASRTAWAP, I might just have something useful to share.  I’m no east coast liberal feminist type, after all. I have been happily married for 14 years, never divorced, I have 1 child, etc.

Looking for love in all the wrong places

I’m talking to the singles here.  Are you just going to the singles bar, the club, whatever in the interest of meeting your soulmate? Stop. You are wasting your time. Go do something you love that you are actually passionate about. Chances are, you’ll meet someone there that’s passionate about what you’re passionate about.  This starts you several steps ahead.

My husband and I met in the music building at the University of Central Oklahoma.  Music people are weird, so we automatically had that in common.

Ditch the script and talk

On your first date, instead of just trying to impress them enough to make sure and have a second date, try having a conversation.  Attempt to get to know each other a bit. Find out what makes them tick. You’ve already got at least one shared interest so breaking the ice should be fairly simple.  If you’ve just found the right one, the story of your first date may be one you tell your grandkids one day.

For our first date (which wasn’t technically supposed to be a date, but I digress), we went to Denny’s and shared an appetizer of chicken fingers. Being the one with disposable income at the time, I paid.  It did not make me feel like some sort of empowered woman, just an employed one. He still opened the doors and got my chair. We never finished those chicken fingers because we were so absolutely engrossed in our conversation.

Moving forward

Gentleman: Be creative.  If she demands expensive trinkets to prove your love, move on. There’s nothing wrong with lavishing her with gifts, but romance doesn’t need to be expensive.

Ladies: Don’t demand expensive tokens of affection in order to earn your continued attention.  There are particular professions where you can trade your company and affections for compensation.  That’s not a relationship.

Early in our relationship, I was up in my 3rd floor dorm room when I heard something hit the window.  Pebbles.  I looked out only to see EvylRobot standing on the sidewalk looking back at me clutching a bouquet of daffodils that he’d cut from his grandmother’s garden.

Let your relationship grow and nurture it along the way. Be best friends. The friendship will get you through a lot.

So Now It’s Permanent

You’ve exchanged vows or decided that this thing is for the long haul in some form or fashion. Don’t stop being enthralled. Always be thankful that this amazing human being chose you. Guess that makes you pretty great yourself.

Ladies: I’m looking at you. You’ve found your knight in shining armor. He’s strong and handsome. He’s skilled and intelligent. Treat him that way. Never belittle him. Yes, you are going to get angry. Talk about the actual issue, don’t tear down your man. If you’ve seen the wife on a prime time sitcom say it to her husband, you shouldn’t say it to yours.  You didn’t marry the buffoon comic relief that sells Swiffers to soccer moms between canned laughter. Treat him like the champion he is.  He was good enough to win you over, right?

Also, there is nothing wrong with catering to him and his desires to a certain extent. I’m not talking about becoming the silent mouse of a wife that waits on her husband. I mean, don’t be a self-centered slug. No, you don’t have to kill yourself at the gym in some attempt to keep the 20 year old hard-body figure that attracted him in the first place, but don’t spend all of your down time beached on the couch in unflattering pajamas either. No, you won’t be in top form and in your cutest most flattering outfit that accentuates all the right curves every day. Sometimes, you’re going to be the slug on the couch. But a little effort goes a long way. It’s not all about your appearance either. Get him his favorite ice cream, take care of his socks. Make an effort to make him feel special.

Guys: Don’t belittle your wife. She’s the lovely, engaging creature that was good enough to capture your attention, right? Don’t let anyone else whittle her down either. Sometimes that means you face off with a friend that isn’t treating her with the respect she deserves. Sometimes that means you reassure her and build her back up when she needs it. Although she may be capable, sometimes she needs you to rescue her. Be her champion.

And I bet you can guess what’s next.  You don’t get to be a slug either. Make the effort and do the things that make her happy too.  Make her feel special.

To both parties: TALK! About everything. Yes, everything.  Your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your bowel movements. Ok, keep the last one to a minimum, probably. Seriously, communication is the cornerstone for every relationship. When that little voice in the back of your head says ‘better not mention this to husband/wife,’ tell that voice to shove it and tell your significant other about it. Maybe it’s that cute intern in the office that said something flirtatious. Telling your significant other about it lowers the threat level.

Which brings me to my next point. You’re relationship is worth defending. Don’t go griping to some third party and use caution with ‘harmless’ flirtation. That not belittling thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah, especially don’t do it when they aren’t around. (I should note that seeking counseling is not griping to a third party. Seeking counseling is also not a sign that you have failed and need help. Sometimes it may be worth while to seek the guidance of a professional almost like a relationship check-up and an opportunity to make it better.)

Life is an adventure. Take your adventures together. Sometimes, they are scary and crazy and just might work (BTW- 2012 was the first profitable year for TheHolsterSite. Throwing your savings into a CD so you can take a loan out against it to buy an industrial sewing machine so the one of you that’s just been laid-off can launch a full time business from home counts as a pretty scary and crazy adventure. Turned a profit in the 3rd year, this crazy thing just might work.) Take up a new hobby together or show interest in a hobby they’ve already got. Way back at the beginning, we started this on a footing of a shared passion. Hang on to that and find more. Always treat your significant other with the respect they deserve and be deserving of the respect they give you.

Kids

Yep, your focus and schedule and priorities are going to change when you add offspring. Make sure your relationship does not take a back seat to being parents. Your job as a parent is to guide your children into adulthood. Once that task is done, you don’t want to have to get to know each other all over again. Take time for each other.

And so on

I’m not going to tell you how to raise your kids or how to divide up the household chores. We have a pretty good division of labor and ignore our chores equally. You get to figure that out on your own.

No, not every relationship will fit the pattern. Not every family will look the same. And no one can give you the formula for how it is going to work for you. Certainly not me. All I can tell you is what works for us. Do we always get it right? Nope. But we will always keep trying.

This Valentine’s Day, and everyday, if you’ve got a special someone, think about how they are special and how blessed you are to be with them.

If you don’t, be awesome anyway, and treat yourself like the impressive creature that you are.

9 thoughts on “To Love and Be Loved

  1. “Never belittle him.” and “Don’t belittle your wife. … Sometimes that means you face off with a friend that isn’t treating her with the respect she deserves.”

    This is something I’ve seen in a number of failed marriages, husbands or wives who “jokingly” insult their other half in front of other people. No, just no. I once physically went for a long-time friend who joked that my wife’s name and phone number could be found on the mens room wall, and I’d do it again.

    They’re not the butt of a joke. They’re your best friend/lover/confidant/soft-place-to-land. They’re entitled to your respect, admiration, and unconditional support. Anything less says more about you than your spouse.

  2. Very good advice!! Although TSM and I are on a little on mushy gushy side, so in addition to the other things you listed, we do celebrate Valentine’s Day:) No pressure, no grandiose gestures, but we like it. However this year it was simply cards because we spent the night at a church taking our state certification test to become EMT’s.

  3. re: after having kids, my parents always said the best thing they did for their relationship after bringing me home was making a point to have dates once i was old enough to be left with a sitter (i was sickly until around the age of 2, so they didn’t want to dump THAT on someone else). and you know? i’ve long moved out – some 8 or 9 years now – and they still have weekly dates. oh, and they still hold hands. and he drives her back and forth to work every day.

    people nowadays seem to fail to understand that relationships take effort and work and not every day is going to be the pretty end of the rosebush.

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