20 Blindingly Obvious Things You Should Know About Relationships – Part #1
No big secrets.
No big fanfare of what relationships nuggets you are going to miss out on if you don’t read this post.
Instead, I have decided to focus on the bloody obvious.
Why? – Because that’s what we miss most of the time.
At our age, most of this should be blindingly obvious by now. But somehow…
Is being reminded of what you already know considered relationship advice? I’ll let you decide on that one.
So, instead of hunting around the internet looking for hacks and short cuts and the next big secret, how about we just go over the basics and get those right first, eh? 🙂
These aren’t in any particular order,but, feel free to re-order them in your own time if that’s your thing 🙂
Here we go.
#1 Don’t be afraid to argue
This isn’t a sign of a bad relationship. In fact, the ones that are quiet and where everything stays hidden under the surface are often the ones that crash and burn more quickly. I used to have some of these.
I would take pride in my early relationships of no fighting. I wore it like a badge of honour. Wasn’t I doing well? It just meant that the ass fell out of it when real conflict arose and I went running for the hills.
You have to be comfortable being vulnerable to have a good row (for a long time I didn’t – see #10). It releases tension. The feeling after a row is one of security because it meant you could express your feelings without being abandoned. And that’s a good thing.
Obviously arguments being the norm and happening all the time with greater and greater intensity may mean there are other issues to address. So, as with most things, please apply a healthy dose of (un)common sense.
#2 Yes, sex is important
We only ever try to say it isn’t when we aren’t getting any. Let’s call a spade a spade here. Sex is a time to be intimate, vulnerable and to enhance that feeling of closeness. And we NEED all of those things.
An unfulfilled sex life is one of the most common problems in relationship breakdowns. And it isn’t just about the act of sex itself, but all physical interactions and the emotional and psychological stimulation that goes with it.
It’s important to work on this. It’s important to talk about it. There needs to be trust built up to make sex possible. There needs to be vulnerability (see #10). And it’s imperative to acknowledge if it’s a problem, because the elephant isn’t leaving the room on its own.
#3 Your partner is NOT responsible for your happiness
Whatever you have read, whatever your family or friends tell you, whatever you have seen in the movies – this is not true! No-one else makes you happy or unhappy. If you enter into a relationship expecting that person to make you happy you WILL be disappointed.
You and you alone are responsible for your happiness. You choose to spend your space and time with someone else as part of your life. You must take responsibility for that choice.
The only expectation you should have is that you are going to be happy ‘in spite of them’. But you’re delighted to have them along for the ride because you enjoy their company, make you laugh, whatever floats your boat, etc, etc
Find what makes you happy. Be the person that makes you happy. Then SHARE that with someone you love.
#4 Don’t automatically assume your partner wants something fixed
This goes for men AND women. There is a myth out there that this is a woman only thing. It isn’t. I’ll let you know for free that it bugs men just as much.
Women just want to be heard and to vent. Understood (Lads, listen up, this is an easy one we need to start getting right).
Ladies, men don’t want you jumping in all over it with a fix because we take it personally and think you think we are incapable and it hurts our fragile egos, Ha Ha! (Now lads, cut the macho stuff and go and look at #10)
Seriously though, just be there for the other person. Respect their capabilities to live their own lives and deal with their own problems. And if and when they ask for help, kindly oblige.
#5 Don’t play games
This may seem obvious but it still goes on. Don’t test your partner to see if they respond in the way you want. You are not training a dog. Be the grown up and ask for what you want. And it doesn’t matter how long we have known someone, we still can’t read minds as a species.
Whether this is to do with the chores, how they behave in front of your friends, sex, putting the shopping away, whatever – don’t expect someone to know. Ask.
If you need more of something from them, ask. If you feel the need to be appreciated for something a little more, ask. This isn’t difficult in theory, but it is in practice it means being vulnerable (see #10)
#6 Don’t leave arguments unresolved just to keep the peace
It doesn’t keep the peace. It just postpones conflict. All you are doing is committing to an underground guerrilla warfare tactic.
Shots are fired, no-one sees where it is coming from and it’s absolute bloody chaos.
These under the surface car bombs explode under every other issue that arises until it’s hard to tell what the actual issue is. There’s fighting but no-one even knows why anymore.
Instead of leaving things unresolved, bring them into the open. Why? Because they aren’t going to go away.
OK, maybe you need to wait for things to calm down. Maybe it needs to be parked until tempers settle and wounds are licked. But it needs to be brought to a conclusion where both are happy to move on.
#7 Don’t bring up previous arguments that haven’t been resolved that you said had been
This just isn’t helping, is it? Go back to #6
You can’t short-cut this one. Either you are listening or you aren’t. Don’t pretend. Oh God, please don’t pretend. This just starts the erosion. Yeah, that putting on a fake smile, saying ‘Yes, Dear’, listening at a surface level.
I’m not talking about that. Our kids know when we are doing that. Our partner knows. Our employees know. We all bloody know but we still try and pretend it works. Pah!
Actually stop what you are doing, look your partner in the eyes and listen with your whole being. OK, there are times when this isn’t possible. When that’s the case, point it out. Ask if you can make the time later and agree to give your full attention and do it right. Make the time to listen and listen properly.
Don’t underestimate the power of this one. There will be a full post coming later on this.
#9 Small and consistent gestures of love and appreciation
This one isn’t difficult, but often overlooked. Relationships are not always about the grand gestures. It’s the everyday little things. Smiling at your partner first and giving them a hug when they come through the door rather than launching straight into the tirade about what your boss did, or how the kids have been behaving.
It’s randomly leaving a favourite chocolate bar or drink out for them. It’s helping with the chores that aren’t yours every now and again. Say thank you for the small expected things. Leave small little notes of appreciation. It’s remembering to ask how that particular thing they were worried about went.
Basically, do something small that lets your partner know you think about them, appreciate them and don’t take them for granted. It says you think the relationship is important. If it brings a smile to their face, it’s a winner.
I used to work with a guy that every now and again would go home in the middle of the day to leave a cream cake in the fridge for his wife when she got home. I was impressed that he did it, and even more impressed that he had the balls to tell another guy. Kudos!
#10 Learn to be vulnerable
If we can’t be vulnerable in our relationship, where can we be? Our intimate relationship is the first place where we need to be fully authentic, fully ourselves. Vulnerability drops all barriers. It creates a place for intimacy. It creates a place to connect physically and emotionally.
When we aren’t vulnerable we are putting up walls. Brene Brown says, ‘When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives’.
Finding connection, meaning and purpose is difficult through walls. We have to risk emotional exposure. We have to sometimes live in that place of risk and uncertainty. This is how we build trust. This is how we feel free. It is how we allow ourselves to be loved in our relationships.
Being vulnerable is scary because we fear our partner may reject us. They may not like us if they see the real us. They may abandon us. The fact is you can’t hide from this anyway.
Our true selves have a way of sneaking out when we aren’t looking. We have moments when we aren’t fully watching and things slip out, whether it is a thought or behaviour.
Being vulnerable is an act of self love, because it says, I don’t feel the need to hide myself away. I know I am not perfect but I love myself anyway. It says to a partner, I am happy to show you my true self, unashamed.
It says to your partner, I trust you with me, fully. And I don’t know about you, but I find that one of the most attractive things in a person.
This is a much bigger subject than a few paragraphs can cover and I will come back to it later. But for now, ask yourself ‘Am I being vulnerable in my relationship or am I hiding away?’, ‘What am I afraid of here?’
That’s the end of Part #1. Click here for Part #2
In the meantime, please let me know in the comments below if there are any you think should be on the list.
Until next time…