I Will

PAIL’s news article this week is “Someone should write about this.”

As Josey said at PAIL,

It’s just a quick blurb, but the premise is this – we do a lot of talking about our relationship with our kids, but not so much talking about our relationship with our significant others.

And that is the root of the problem right there.

Even before kids, so many couples operate their relationship under the assumption that ‘it just happens,’ that a relationship is there, that by it’s very existence, the validity of the relationship is proven. The problem with this line of thinking is that when the dynamic changes, the pattern of letting the relationship take care of itself continues. But relationships are not living, breathing creatures on their own. They need care and feeding, just as those involved in the relationship do.

A spousal relationship is not a familial relationship; the only bond connecting the pair is the intangible one created by their actions and reactions toward each other. There is not that guarantee of “I will always be your mother/ father/ sister/ brother.” Words take the place of that guarantee, and words are what is necessary to continually strengthen and reaffirm it.

Change is a hard, hard thing to deal with, for everyone, but the knowledge that change can improve can sometimes be a positive impetus to encourage us to effect that change.

In the beginning stages of a relationship, the newness creates the value for us to be nice. That feeling of being part of a team is rewarding enough to make taking care of the relationship nearly instinctual. But as the comfort level rises, we begin to take each other for granted. It’s easier and easier to view the other half of your relationship as inanimate and unaffected by your actions.

So begins the snapping at each other, the lack of courtesy, not picking up or doing all the little things that used to come so easily when we wanted to make sure the other person’s happiness was a priority. It isn’t that we don’t care anymore, it’s that we don’t work anymore.

Relationships are work. They require conscious effort. This is the major challenge for most of us, as we want to say we’re tired from work, or school, or family. We want the relationship to take care of itself, as it seemed to do for so long, but it never really did. The difference is that it was easier then, because you were a team. You were always a team, constantly looking out for each other and doing all the little things that make life easier.

When a change as drastic as a child come into the picture, a whole ‘nother person living in your home and taking away the time that you used to only have to share with each other, it’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that you’re still a team. It’s easy to forget that your significant other is a real person with real feelings, and that those feelings will affect your interactions. It’s easy to snap and not acknowledge the snapping, let alone apologize for it.

And yet that’s the most important thing to remember. Your significant other can’t read your mind. In spite of not being psychic, they still deserve your respect.

It is hard to suck it up and admit it when you’re being an asshole. Nobody wants to admit it when they’re wrong.

There are so many ways to improve a relationship. Time alone together is important. Time just to have fun is important. Intimacy is important. For me, the greatest challenge, but the one with the greatest benefit, is admitting when I’m wrong. Acknowledging when I’m being an asshole. Recognizing it, and stopping it.

It is hard when I’ve said for eight years that I hate when he takes out the trash and doesn’t replace the bag, and he still does it. But I can take a step back and think rationally. I can realize that it’s way healthier for our relationship for me to just replace the bag and let it go instead of griping about it. It takes me five seconds to replace the bag. I could be mad about it for minutes, or hours, depending on what else is stressing me out. So I make the choice to let it go. I can spend that time I would have been angry having fun with my family instead of seething or being grumpy. And the reward is self-evident.

So work on it. I can’t recommend that enough.


8 Comments on “I Will”

  1. J o s e y says:

    Ugh, but I so WANT him to be able to read my mind and replace the damn trash bag. *sigh*

    I know I know, you’re right… working on this, always…

  2. chon says:

    What about the toilet roll- seriously just put a new one on! Sometimes I find myself a snapping and I think why? But it’s just I’m tired and exhausted and need five frisking minutes to myself so please just take over!

    Nice (well not nice) to see its a common thread….

  3. You are absolutely right about the need to make time to work on your relationship. We are so much happier when we take a few hours a month to spend time alone, just being together and relaxing. I’d wonder why we don’t do it more often, but clearly it’s because life gets in the way. My cheery, happiest friends in a couple have weekly date nights, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

  4. ncchnat says:

    Such a great reminder!

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