Advice from a Relationship Moron

Hello. My Name is Becca. I am a relationship moron.

I’m not sure how it happened. My grandparents got married when she was like 14. They’re still together. My parents are tapping on the door of 35 yrs. My brother got married during my first serious relationship and umpteen stupid, moronic relationships later (mine, not his), he is still happily married with 2 kids and a bun in the oven. I guess I was just unlucky in love….. or was I? Not long after Mark and I started dating, I did a little self analysis of all my unlucky relationships and moronic men and I found one common denominator. ME :-( What a crappy realization! I’m so good at a lot of things and here right before my eye I was completely and utterly sucky at being in love. Enter the self-help section at Books A Million.

In my job, I have the amazing and fortunate and wonderful opportunity to share in the lives of so many people. They tell me their troubles, their joys. They ask my opinion and share their own. They shock me with stories from their past and intrigue me with their individual successes. I can’t imagine that many people are so fortunate as to be given so many people from so many perspectives to share their lives with. People often share with me about their relationships…. The good times and bad, the ups and downs, the roller coaster of lifelong love (which, I should point out that despite everything I still absolutely believe is possible). From these stories, and the copious relationship books and manuals, I am going to share with you the 3 things that I believe have changed me and helped Mark and I have so much joy in our life.

So, here we go… Relationship advice form a (converted) Relationship Moron:

  1. Live Like You are on Vacation Every Day! Sweet! I can totally dig bikinis and martinis everyday!  The first article I ever read that really impacted how I looked at my love life ended with this statement. The author was a Harvard anthropologist (so she MUST know something) and she had conducted some study assessing all kinds of relationships over a 5 or 10 yr period. Gay relationships, straight relationships, childless, blended, extended, career women, stay at home dads, vegan, hippie…. You name it! Anyway, after all that study and data sorting and so on and so forth, this researcher came to the conclusion that the one common denominator between the happy couples was that they lived like they were on vacation every single day. By that, she meant that they slowed down and paid attention to each other. They asked what each other wanted to do the next day, they did things they didn’t want to do because their spouse did, they had a cocktail and chatted before dinner, they dressed up rather than looked like slobs, they planned excursions, they showered together- all things we do on vacation, but don’t do day to day. How simple! And enjoyable… I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to do these things? So, stop for a second and ask yourself how you can have the vacation mindset every single day. Is it as simple as just sitting on the porch for 10 minutes before starting to cook dinner? Maybe it can be. Next time a stupid argument is brewing, just look at each other and say “You know, let’s not fight. We’re on vacation! Does this really matter?”
  2. The Grass on the Other Side has Just as Many Weeds! It can be so hard in the world today with E! television and Twitter and Facebook. Everyone’s life looks so darn perfect and their relationships are just unprecedented and they’re always having so much more fun. Stop comparing! Everyone has ups and downs and struggles. So, stop looking away from your loved ones and look to them. With all the distractions, put on your blinders, look into each others’ eyes and don’t look away for a second. You just might see something you were too distracted to see before...
  3. Love Each Other, Doggie-style! Don’t get too excited… My dad once sent me a joke that said, “If you want to know who really loves you, close your wife and your dog in the trunk of the car. Come back in 2 hrs and see which one is happy to see you!” Now, that’s a bit extreme but think on it a second. No matter how many times I get angry at my dog, or step on her tail, or have to put her out back because of a visitor, or forget to feed her, she ALWAYS loves me. My Sophie Dog knows that I really mean to be perfect, I do. But I’m not, and I never will be. She has chosen to tie her life to mine, regardless. It’s a choice. I have a million flaws, Mark does too…. Ok, he probably actually has less than me but that’s neither here nor there… But, we both have good moral fiber and we want a full, successful life and we have made the choice that we will love even the ugly parts. From there, the best we can do is just accept them and help each other get better and better.

I could go on and on about speaking honestly, challenging each other, and so much more. But, I really think that in the end it all comes down to something much simpler. You can learn to use "I" statements, or repeat back the question to ensure you heard it right. You can journal or do worksheets, but all that is so forced. I really think it just comes down to being gracious and kind, to always giving the benefit of the doubt, to rolling your eyes and realizing that yes your other half is a moron too……. well, all that and counting to 10 before you decide to punch them in the face :-P

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