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October 22, 2004

Relationships « The Brain Fertilizer Way »

I’ve learned a few things over the years…

One of the things I’ve come to realize is that there are a hundred things* that a guy does that are fine and perfectly okay…until he moves in with a woman. Objectively, there really is nothing wrong with leaving your clothes on the floor for a week, or sorting underwear by scent…but it is wrong in her eyes. The reverse is just as true: there’s nothing wrong with re-decorating or throwing out old things…unless your redecoration is the equivalent of a dog urinating on a hydrant, i.e., to leave a mark of your presence to establish territory and cover up any previous marks.

Sure, those are both stereotypical examples…meaning, there’s probably some basis for truth, but nothing you’d want to hang your hat on.

The point is, the definition of “right” and “wrong” changes when you enter a relationship, and changes even more if you live together (not to mention if you marry…although I usually hope the initiating of co-habitation and marriage occur simultaneously, I’m also not so naïve to expect it…). When you tell someone you love them, you accept a certain responsibility toward meeting their expectations and attempting to please them. You tacitly accept that you may well have to alter some of your customs and practices in order to make the deepening of your relationship go smoothly.

As such, many of the things that you do that aren’t wrong when you are single do become wrong when you are part of a couple. If you want the relationship to continue and thrive, you should probably take some time to actually discuss likes, dislikes, and pet peeves and see what problems you can easily avoid with a word to the wise.

As such, I’ve learned some of the things that contribute to a deep and lasting love. I think, first and foremost, you really should be friends, and your characters should be in harmony. The best way to make sure infatuation isn’t fooling you about those two aspects is simply: time. Yeah, you can wait too long, but not waiting long enough usually leads to far worse disasters. And the other trait I think is most important is “willingness”. If you partner is willing, and you are willing, there are no difficulties you cannot resolve. The moment intransigence rears its ugly head, you are heading for trouble. Not insurmountable trouble, necessarily, but a fairly unenjoyable period of time, nonetheless.

Take the preceding for what it’s worth to you.

*meaning, an unestimable many

Posted by Nathan at 02:07 PM | Comments (6)

When I'm asked about marriage advice (which is, admittedly, not often because of my less-than-stellar record) here are the two things I make sure I state (from my own experiences):

1) You must spend time together to learn the other party's idosyncracies. If, for instance, it drives you completely batshit that the toilet paper roll is upside down, and your intended does this -- TAKE IT UNDER SERIOUS ADVISEMENT. I'm completely and totally serious, here. Because it is my humble opinion that when you cohabitate you must have compatible living styles, and, after the warm glow of infatuation has worn off, it's the little things that will make you crazy. If you know all about your intended's little idiosyncracies and they fall under the heading of "Not Such a Big Deal" then you won't wind up blowing your stack and having huge arguments over ridiculous, petty things.

2) Listen. Don't just hear, LISTEN. I would hazard a guess that out of 100 arguments, 99 of them are not born from anger, they're born from hurt feelings. I can't stand the psychobabble bullshit of "listen, then repeat what your partner says" but if that works for you, fine. Most of the time, the marriages I've seen fail failed from atrophy. Taking the other one for granted.

For me, personally, I happen to think that for a relationship to succeed, both parties have to think they're the lucky one. When my hubby and I got together I told him: "I don't know what makes a marriage work; only what makes one fail." It was the most honest thing I'd ever uttered. But after nearly three years of marriage, I think I might have picked up a thing or two.

And, just so's you know: I happen to think I'm the luckiest woman on the planet. :: grin ::

Finally -- on a more personal note. Take heart, Nathan. I really honestly believe that we learn the most about ourselves, grow the most, and find out what we're made up of -- not by the happy times -- but by the sad ones.


Posted by: Margi at October 23, 2004 01:08 AM

I agree with Margi. Nathan, one of the most difficult times in my life and marriage, yielded the sweetest fruit.

It can be very hard to accept others as they are and where they are; to truly revel in their inherent being. We sometimes want the other to be just like us and then are astounded when they attempt to accomplish the same thing.


Posted by: Rae at October 23, 2004 12:42 PM

Good advice, too, Margi...but this isn't what you think it is. I just have times when I give unsolicited advice based on what I've learned. I mentioned that about the very definition of right/wrong and good/bad changing when you enter a relationship to a friend, and she thought I should post it, so I did, and just added a little bit more to spice it up. That's all.

Posted by: Nathan at October 23, 2004 07:03 PM

Prayers are always appreciated. Right now, pray that everything proceeds smoothly.

Posted by: Nathan at October 23, 2004 07:04 PM

I wasn't making an assumption; I apologize if it sounded like I was. I happen to think you're awfully nice and you deserve every happiness. :)

Posted by: Margi at October 23, 2004 07:36 PM

My patience level dropped off somewhere, Lord knows where. I realized it most strongly last weekend. We picked of a Saturday paper and went to the coffee house, I had MT save us a seat while I waited in line. Well, I waited and waited and ordered and waited and fixed the coffee and took it to the table and waited some more for the food and went back to the table eventually.

I sat down, read section A, and MT suggested we go, we had barn chores to get to. I bussed the table and walked our dishes to the dish totes and turned around and MT had gotten rid of the paper. Of course, I hadn't had time to finish it.

And I freaked out. almost cried. Over a paper that cost .50. He offered to fetch it out of the recycle (it now mingled with communal papers) or buy another one, neither of these options seemed acceptable to would seem like stealing, the other a waste of $.

Anyway, I think when you're with someone every day and every night, sometimes you end up losing all the tolernace you had before. In my case, my reaction was totally stupid. But it happened nonetheless.

Posted by: Jo at October 25, 2004 07:34 AM
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