1. Go to bed mad
You know that old saying, “Never let the sun go down on an argument”? Worst piece of advice. Whoever thought that staying up until 3am, nutting out the Me-Vs-You-I’m-Right-You’re-Wrong fight until you are blue in the face and quite scarily hysterical, was clearly stupid. Sometimes you just need to go to freakin’ bed. Just switch the light off and go to bed. Wake up the next morning, cook some scrambled eggs and things won’t seem so bad, I promise.
Side story: I was 6 months pregnant. Joel and I had been living together for 3 months. Skip the math and stay with me. We had a doozy of a fight. Our most dooziest to date, in fact. And, no, there was no infidelity. No lies. No fraudulent identification. The source of our fight was so ridiculous I’m actually embarrassed to say. Anyway, I was hormonal (did I mention that I was 6 months pregnant?) and Joel’s an Aries and we’ll just leave it at that and get back to the story. We were yelling and swearing and slamming doors and I’m sure if we had slingshots we would have been flinging pellets into eachother’s eyeballs until the other cried Mercy. It was not pretty. And we went to bed angry. Seething, in fact. Best thing we could have done, because if you are anything like Joel and I, the next morning you’d be able to say, “My GOD I was so mad at you last night, the sheer sight of you made me want to stab you in the eye with a fork”, and the other person would laugh and agree and you could get on with sorting out whatever it is you’ve got your knickers in a knot over. Without the rage. Without the emotion.
2. Find a Red Tent
Yep, the Sisterhood. Your Sisters will become your solace. They will absorb your harshest criticism, your most dire predictions, your gloomiest of opinions. These Sisters will furrow their brow and spit in disgust and agree that yes, he really IS so crap. They will gasp. They will shake their head in disappointment. They will say, wide-eyed, I can’t BELIEVE he DID that! Oh you poor THING, they will say. And you will say, yes, it’s true, I AM a poor thing. And then once your fight is over and the radiant beam of love streams through your relationship once again, the Sisters will gush in admiration at how lovely he is, because, of course, he really is and they know you didn’t really mean what you said.
You need to hold onto your Sisterhood fiercely. Cherish your Sisters. See them often. Force yourself upon them if you really have to. Just keep the doors (or flaps) to the Red Tent open. Always. There are many sides to us which men can’t reach or fulfil. It’s just how it is. Boys, find a Blue Tent. Build stuff or break stuff or whatever other stuff that makes you feel manly.
3. Have kids
Kids make you a little crazier, a little sillier, a little looser and a little funnier. And crazy, silly, loose and funny are DEFINITELY things you need to foster in order to survive the intensity and seriousness that relationships often come with. If you can include these things in your relationship without kids, then that would be fine as well. I’m just saying that kids help, is all. Plus all the loving and the bonding that goes on because of them. That’s pretty nice, too.
4. Do your own thing
Jungle-trekking. Pole-dancing. Soap-making. Find your thing. Do your thing and never stop doing it. Ever. When you are self-happy, you are less reliant on one single person to fill you up.
Joel does aikido. I have never watched him do aikido. (Do aikido? Is that what you say?) I write blogs. He only reads my blogs because I force him to and threaten him with writing more stuff about him if he doesn’t clean up his mess. The point is, my writing is mine alone. It makes me feel happy. It makes me feel passionate and full and content, just like aikido makes Joel feel manly and sweaty and, actually, I don’t really know what it makes him feel – I’ve never asked, but he loves it so it must be good.
I think he’s the best aikido-er ever to throw a kick. He thinks I’m the best blogger ever to write a sentence.
Do your own thing. It really, really helps.
5. Don’t share a car
There’s nothing else to elaborate on there. Just don’t share a car.
6. Be loyal
You two are a team. There’s no one else allowed on the team and no one else can understand the team’s rules. And it needs to feel like it is you two against the world. There will be other family members. There will be exes. There will be close friends. There will be (or may not be) children. But, at the end of the day, it will be you two, sitting up in bed together, eating chocolate lindt balls and trying to make your way through life together. You will talk about how hard it is to come from two different families and try to start your own. You will disclose your deepest, dirtiest secrets and know that they will have a soft place to land. You will pull each other up when the other person is being a jerk. You will back each other’s most silliest dreams.
Don’t be tempted with fire. Yes Dire Straights, you can fall for pretty strangers and the promises they hold. However, the promises will never really be that different from the promises you have already made to your current mate. I will love you. I will support you. I will stand by you. What more do we humans really ever want? And what makes you think someone else, with all their baggage and quirks and inadequacies, will do it any better? Yes, they might be better at some things, but they most likely will be worse at other things; things you don’t even see in your current mate anymore because you have taken them for granted. So love them. Support them. Stand by them. And demand the same. The grass, my friends, is rarely ever greener and if it is, it’s always just as hard to mow. (Love to claim that gem of quote but, no, it’s stolen.)
You are the team. Sometimes it swings one way and sometimes it swings the other. Sometimes he gets to be upset, sometimes it’s your turn. Sometimes he’s in a rough spot, sometimes you. Sometimes you’re in the spotlight, sometimes he is. There will be ups and there will be downs but the goal is for you to remain holding hands through it all.
7. Write a roster
No surprises here, friends. Men don’t do housework. Women do. And if you have a man who does, then what the hell are you reading these here tips for- go and grab him, plant a big kiss on his lips and never let him go. You don’t need any further advice. Your partnership will last FOREVER.
We hear all the time, all over the place that domestic issues are the source of something like 80% of all arguments between couples. I, personally, would increase that to 97%. If you have read any of my other blogs, you will be well aware of Joel’s inability to be domestic and my absolute desperation at this unfortunate flaw in his personality. So we have a roster. He feeds the cat. He fills up the water filter. He washes the car. He takes the bins out. He does the nappies. I do everything else. And it works. Until he forgets one of his jobs and then I’m yelling and then he’s yelling and we have to go all the way back to point number 1.
8. Don’t bring up ex-partners
Some people will disagree with me on this but I swear by it. It’s in the past. It never feels nice. Just close your mouth.
9. Know that they already know
We all love being critical. We have all experienced how good it feels in the moment to blurt out that critical thing, letting it reverberate in the air long enough to sting. But it almost always feels horrible once that moment passes, and it CERTAINLY always feels awful to be on the receiving end. And here’s a little thought: Being critical – pointing out the big, festering pimply mass in their persona? They already see it. They already know. Assuming you are with someone mildly intelligent, trust that they are self-aware enough to know when they screwed up. Rubbing salt into an open, oozing wound will not make you a team. It will make you the enemy.
10. Love them
Just love them. As much as you can. As often as you can. Loudly. With praise. Brag about them, in fact, in FRONT of them. Buy them salted plums if they like salted plums. Run them a bath if they like having a bath. Cook them honey chicken if they like honey chicken. Be kind to them. Appreciate them. Just love them. As much as you can. As often as you can.