I had an interesting weekend shovelling snow, watching more snow come down, watching hockey (yeah, I broke down) and shovelling some more snow. I didn't do too much yesterday though... except shovelling. The issue is my brain doesn’t seem to want to shut off whether I'm ensconsed in some activity or laying slug-like in a prone position on the sofa. The thoughts keeps me awake at night and usually makes me a miserable cad in the morning.
What is occupying me these days is relationships and where they go wrong. A few things have come to mind and, right, wrong or indifferent, I would like to share.
In the beginning of a relationship, everything is rosy. We are in the honeymoon stage and nothing will ever go wrong. We adore the quirky little traits that, later, will make us mentally retarded.
It’s not the quirky stuff that makes us nuts. The quirky stuff is the primer for the big stuff. What is the big stuff? Contracts. When we enter into a relationship, there are unwritten contracts we each develop in our heads. That is, they are expectations of how the other person should behave and what they are going to do for me. The real trouble starts when the other person begins to unwittingly break the contracts. Further to this, every new and different relationship has a different set of rules, so it’s not as if you could write them down and hand your new partner a binder full of How-To’s.
By the way, your partner has a set of unwritten expectations too.
In the beginning, focus on the other person is easy. They are everything you ever wanted (and this could very well be true). Over time, the focus can begin to shift. It moves to other things that society says is important. Work, play time, friendships, financial futures, retirement living or whatever. We need to catch up on all of those little things we neglected while entering into the relationship. Once we know the other person “enough”, we tend to turn our minds to other pressing needs believing that we have completed a task and never have to worry about it again. In extreme cases, we ignore the other person almost completely… which brings me to…
Too much too soon
We share everything early on. This isn’t inherently a negative. We need to develop common bonds in order to connect at a deeper level than pure physical attraction. What we tend to stop doing is exploring each other, physically and mentally. We seem to get to a certain point and stop because we know enough about this person to keep the strings attached…for awhile. The problem? People change and if we don’t keep up with what is going on in their lives, they will be so far away after a time we can’t even see them, never mind attempting to cross the accompanying void.
At this point, it is done. In very rare cases, the intimacy can be brought back.
The simple solution is communication. Make a point of blocking out 15-30 minutes of EVERY evening to catch up on each others day. Most days, the time will not be completely spent. Others, you will run into overtime and still not get to everything that happened. You might not even get a turn to share if your partner is firing on all cylinders on something bothering them.
Share everything; work, the drive home, Aunt Greta’s new false teeth... everything that is on your mind. There are times I don’t like hearing what is being said. If it’s the truth for the other person, who am I to argue? Just believe what they are saying because for them, it’s important that you understand.
While you’re at it, when your partner is sharing, shut up! You have two ears and one mouth. You should be listening twice as much as you speak. Finally on this, as difficult as it may be, try not to formulate your answer before they are finished speaking. Focus on their words, count to three, and then answer.
One further thing I do. If I’m angry, I ask my partner for a few minutes and go somewhere else to stew. She doesn’t need to hear the crap whirling around the tornado in my head. She needs to hear the calm, collected viewpoint in a manner she can understand. Shouting just kicks on the other person’s defense mechanism and they stop hearing your viewpoint almost immediately.
Lastly, never, ever, ever go to bed angry.
I wonder if this would work for international relations. Hmm...
Okay... time to stop leaning on the shovel and get my hiney in gear. Wonder if I can find the driveway this time. Ugh!