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What’s in your Relationship Basket?

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Lately, several different people have asked me for relationship advice.  Me! (I know, that’s what I thought, too).  The problem with me is that if you ask me my opinion, I assume you really want to know.

I’m no therapist, but I’m a fairly good listener and I have a good amount of life experiences.  I’ve also been lucky to have witnessed two very strong marriages: my paternal grandparents, Ausser and Pearl, who were married over 70 years, and my parents, who were sweethearts for more than 52.   The hubbs & I are celebrating year 19 next month. But, unlike them, when we met, we’d both been married & divorced.  He grew up in a traditional household and later became a child of divorce;  I grew up watching my parents go on date nights and speak softly to each other.  He witnessed fights and stress and matured too soon; I saw dancing and kindness and hand holding.    When we met, we brought our own unique basket of experiences to the relationship, but it’s what’s IN our baskets that has been so vastly different.

We’ve had our share of joys and our share of sorrows.  We’ve had regrettable moments when we were sharp and unkind with each other … but we’ve worked through them and moved on.  Asked recently what’s your secret, I replied that “there is no secret” – follow the Golden Rule http://www.teachingvalues.com/goldenrule.html and you’ll be just fine.   But, thinking about it further, I’ve assembled what’s worked for us:

1.     Remember that you chose each other.  Don’t save your best manners for strangers. Please and Thank you go a long way; speak kindly, and give credit where it’s due.

2.     Don’t keep score.  Well if he got to do ___ then I should get to do ____.  This is a relationship, not a video game.  It’s not always going to be equal; someone is always going to carry more than their share and who that someone is changes. 

3.     Embrace each other’s friends & family.  When you make it easier for them to be in your lives, everyone’s happier. Learn to laugh at their stories because you’ll hear them many times.

4.     Be honest.  When you’re tired, say so. When you’re lonesome, speak up and ask for more time together. Never assume your partner can read your mind. I don’t have that superpower, although it’d sure be handy on occasion! When you’re wrong, remember these three important words, “I was wrong.”  

5.     Try not to go to bed angry but, if necessary, agree to disagree.    That old saying “pick the hill you want to die on?” It’s true.  Many issues are just not worth fighting about, in my opinion.  But if I believe in something? Oh yeah, you better believe it will be discussed.

6.    Find a way to pursue your passions and feed your soul. The hubbs and I enjoy our time together because we  give each other time to ourselves. He loves to compete and is an avid sports fan and team player. I like to read, write and play with music and technology.  The point is that we don’t need to be alike nor together all the time to get along. And when we are together, we’re interested in each other because we’ve both had the time and space necessary to pursue what intrigues us. 

7.    Forgive mistakes and move on. Don’t keep a list of false starts.  No one’s perfect, including you.

8.     Listen: try to do so without interrupting.  When you give someone your undivided attention, that in itself is a wonderful gift.  The hubbs is an attentive listener, and that’s really good for me because I love to talk!   He’s taught me to be a better listener and I’ve taught him it’s ok to open up.

9.  Laugh. Often. At each other. At yourselves. At life.   We can’t always control what goes on in our lives but we can control how we react to it.

10. Do nice things for each other. I know he likes casseroles (and he knows that I don’t) but I make them because he works out of the house and these are easy for him to warm up at lunch.  He does sweet things for me, like filling my car up with gas on wintry days and making extra trips back to the grocery store for items or brands I prefer.

11.  Be each other’s biggest cheerleader.  Applaud successes and be kind with failures.  Support each other’s interests. An appreciated spouse makes a joyful partner.

12.  Make regular time together a priority by scheduling it.  When our boys were little, we didn’t have much extra money or trusty babysitters.  We’d bathe the boys & tuck them into bed, and spend our evenings together out on the patio. Singing. Talking. Listening. Laughing. We still do this today.   Our boys have grown up seeing us prioritize our time together, guard that time together and relish our time together. Date nights are scheduled regularly and they don’t always require that we leave the house.  As a result, we’ve given our children a wonderful gift; knowing what a loving, supportive and fun relationship looks like.

How about you? What are your tried & true relationship rules?

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Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life Lessons, Love, Men, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Romance, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Traditions, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , | 35 Comments

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35 thoughts on “What’s in your Relationship Basket?

  1. In the last year, the husband has started doing much of this. Which made me worried. I wondered if he was cheating and needed to do make up behavior or did some frying pan hit him on the side of the head and make him realize his negative actions were killing our marriage. I think some of the most important ones on your list is respecting each other and give that person space to do what they love without you so you can come together and do what you love together.

    • I hope that his new actions are helping to patch up the past damages and I agree with you … space to be yourself is important. That and not keeping score. Cheers! MJJ

  2. Oh yeah! This is a great one. I think our secret for 16 years is not being joined at the hip. I recharge by being alone and he gets it by working out with his buddies.
    Embrace the differences. Yep.

    • Amen Lissa. Get your time apart so that you enjoy *(and not resent) the time together. I can not tell you how many I know who do not do this … sad. MJ

  3. Aw, love your rules! I totally agree. After 17 years of marriage I can honestly say that my husband and I are more in love now than we ever have been. I’d have to add to the “make time to be together” and say that you need to have lots of good sex. 🙂 Oops. Glad I can say things like that on other people’s blogs.

    • Caroline, I completely agree…. and my experience? Romance begins long before anyone gets near the bedroom … it’s the little things. Cheers! MJ

  4. As someone who has yet to find her “one”, I love reading this advice. I’d rather think about and know how to be a good partner before meeting the right guy.

    I especially love #6 on your list. I’ve watched a lot of people give up their own passions when they get in a serious relationship… but often they lose themselves and stop being the person their partner fell in love with.

    I love your blog, MJ. You’re a very wise and compassionate woman. ❤

    • Thank you, Jaclyn, for stopping in and commenting. When we look around us at the relationships that are most successful, in my experience, you’ll find these components in “the mix.”

  5. Love this. Although I have been married for two year, I too have several great examples of great marriages, beginning with my parents.

    I have learned a lot about myself and our relationship these last two years. We still have growing pains, but we love each other so much and choose to do so everyday.
    One of the things I like to say is that our marriage is a lifetime. We will not be perfect tomorrow, nor the next day or year. We have our lifetime to “master” things. We might as well enjoy the journey we share instead of focusing only on the desired end.
    Thanks for posting.

    • hi Mac … your insight is spot on — that you have learned a lot about yourself AND the relationship. I think it is a “work in progress” and as long as we keep it a priority, we continue to grow and evolve. Loved your quote about “marriage is a lifetime” = how true.. Cheers! MJ

  6. This is great. I had great examples of marriage, and your points about being kind not keeping score and embracing one another’s friends and family ring true with me in what I saw in the relationships around me.
    My advice has always been to laugh…to have fun together, so I am so glad you included it. Great post! Now go rock that marriage of yours:)

    • Definitely need laughter … we have to be able to laugh at ourselves and each other .. and see the humor in otherwise prickly situations, right? Rockin’ it here in west MI. Cheers! MJ

  7. Michelle

    A wonderful list! I think I’d add never, never take your spouse/S.O. for granted. It’s so easy to get lost in the moment and take out the frustrations of the day on the person you trust the most… because they’re your safe place… but it’s so much more damaging than you realize.

    • Indeed … that’s why I included my mom’s words of “don’t save your best manners for strangers.” I so often see that in other couples .. they’re accomodating to everyone else BUT to their spouse.. hurtful. Thanks for your input!! MJ

  8. I couldn’t agree more! Very wise advice! Thanks, as always, for your insight, your honest approach to life, and your encouraging words.

    Sheila

  9. cooper

    excellent list – #4 & #6 stand out for me. I would add that 1 +1 always equal 2.
    Enjoy what’s common, respect the differences. Non-critical honesty is a biggie, going with “I feel” instead of “You did”.
    Leave snark for blogging…have a key word that means “I’m serious about what I’m saying…i’m being being my usual sarcastic self”

  10. I agree, Cooper. Great advice of using “I feel” instead of “you did.”

    I should have included my advice to avoid two relationship killer words: “always” and “never.” Try saying either without sounding like a petulant child …. and great advice on snarkiness. Keep it for blogging – great tip!

    thanks for weighing in .. I appreciate it, MJ

  11. Lovely post with true advice. The one thing I miss is ‘TALK to each other!’. Turn off the TV and open your heart, talk about daily things, about big and small things. Keep the communication channels wide open. Once you stop talking, you will grow apart.
    Spending time to do your own stuff is very important to us, so we can truly give each other the attention we need when we are together again. By the way, we are not living together but have a wonderful and whole relationship 🙂

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Connie Rosser Riddle

Connecting with people in my path

Atypical 60

A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take On Life. With An Atypical Twist!

A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine, for your light has come...Isaiah 60

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

Kate's views on life edited by four opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.

notquiteold

Nancy Roman

She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

The View Out Here

A view in pictures, from me to you

I also live on a farm

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

these days of mine

Stop in and see what's happening during these days of mine

Grace and Life

Looking for grace notes in life's journey...

When I Ride...

How life coaches me as I ride...

RICH RIPLEY

EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS...

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