Best & Simplest Relationship Advice Ever: Be Humble & Make Out

August 19, 2008 at 2:32 pm (Relationships, Tips)

photo by carlo_nicora via flickr

photo by carlo_nicora via flickr

The secret to relationships is 1.) being humble and 2.) making out.

I’ve been engaged to Darling for three years now. Sometimes, people ask me if it bums me out to know that I’m bound to a promise that I can’t see anyone anymore. Some say I am lucky to be with someone and others say they just can’t believe it. Actually, I don’t think there’s ever been a moment where I seriously considered being with anyone else. Even when I try, I cringe at the thought of being with someone who would be remotely less perfect for me than he. He fills the contours of all my little quirks. I honestly can’t imagine life without him.

Before I leave everyone with cavities with this post, I jump to say that our relationship was anything other than “smooth sailing.” It was a lot of hard work. Ever heard Dane Cook’s piece on “Nothing Fights“? I nodded throughout the whole thing! We’ve had our fair share of fights and some of those fights were downright brutal. I’m sure our neighbors raised an eyebrow during a couple of our arguments. Many times, we were pushing each other to the verge of shattering the relationship and be done with it. I even wonder how we managed to pull through some of those times yet the other night, we went out to a sweet, dim-lit Italian restaurant, had a vibrant conversation, and flirted and cuddled with each other.

In fact,  we haven’t had a fight for the past several months.

The Secret To It All

“What’s your secret?” people ask me, incredulously. Many come up with their own answers, some very true and insightful. My friend, Devon, said to me one night, “You and Shef have the best relationship not because you don’t fight but because when you do fight, you guys actually fix your problems.”

I’m not sure about Darling, but all the things we’ve apparently been “doing right” boils down to a simple piece of advice: be humble.

Why do we fight? We fight because we think we’re right and our partner is wrong. “She never gets ready in time.” “He never does his share of the housework.” “She is an embarrassment when we’re around people.” “He never pays attention to me and doesn’t care about the relationship.”

There was a time when Darling felt that I had been ignoring him for a long time. He kept it bottled up inside and then one day, when we were arguing about something else, he spat, “You never spend any time with me!” I scoffed, absolutely frustrated, and retorted, “I ate lunch with you a couple days ago! I call you like every night! I asked you if you wanted to get dinner tomorrow night!”

I felt like my efforts were vastly under appreciated, especially in the midst of a totally chaotic school schedule at the time. I had work, I had school, I wanted to keep up with friends and family, and I was stressed. Even when I thought about it and decided that perhaps I had bumped him down my list of priorities, I still had a stubbornness that refused to stop justifying myself. No one wants to admit they are wrong, even when they are. And surely no one wants to admit they are wrong if they are being aggressively criticized about it.

photo by dollipoptart via flickr

photo by dollipoptart via flickr

Our Perspectives are Our Realities

But even when I felt justified about it and I had a long list of reasons why I was right, it didn’t make him any less hurt or angry about it. In fact, it could have frustrated him further: I was neglecting his feelings. Even if I felt justified, it didn’t matter because he felt ignored. In his reality, I was indeed shoving him to the back burner.

I stopped trying to prove him wrong and actively bumped him up on my to-do list ( No pervy jokes, please. 😉 ). My ego kept telling me, “You’re giving in to his demands! You have more pride than that! He WAS wrong, this is why: blahblahblah.” When I quietly started to do more of what he felt was lacking, our relationship seemed to fix itself and we suddenly had fun again. At first, it was strained, the two of us trying hard to act like a couple. But we were happy once again.

Susan Page writes in How One of You Can Bring the Two of You Together,

“… one problem with insisting that you are right is that, often, there ar eseveral ‘right’ ways to look at a situation, and your right way is only one of them. Being right may be keeping you from expanding your vision.

But there is an even worse problem associated with being right: It makes you helpless.

Usually, your ‘right’ view of the situation is that the problem is your spouse’s fault … if the only solution to the problem is that your spouse need to make a change, this puts you in a terribly weak position. because if you can’t induce your spouse to change, there is nothing left for you to do … Here is the bad news: Your partner won’t change. Give up on that.

But here is the good news: There’s plenty you can do to help yourself anyway.”

This also reminds me of something Mystery (seduction guru) said, and I paraphrase: “When a girl is not responding the way you want, it’s always your fault. It’s always something you’re doing wrong. But that’s a good thing, because that means you can change it.”

Be humble:

  1. Let go of “being right” because in the end, the prize of being right is being right. The problem is still there but you’ve convinced yourself that you’re right and s/he’s wrong. Big whoop.
  2. Imagine if what your partner was totally right in his or her criticism. What if you are being negligent? Rude? Quiet? Selfish? If this is a concern, certainly something you are doing is leading your partner to feel and think that way.
  3. Restrain defensiveness. Don’t jerk back with “I never do that!” Even if you believe them to be wrong, let them rant and be wrong. If they say, “You never get ready on time!” Tell them, “I’m sorry I seem to be taking so long; I’m worried about being late too.” (Another tip from Ms. Page. Buy her book, btw, it’s wonderful.)
  4. Do whatever will make your spouse feel loved, even if you currently feel unloved. It does feel unnatural at first, blindly giving into him/her when you feel that they’re wrong. An example: getting up early to make him/her breakfast before work though you feel s/he is a workaholic and is ignoring the family. In similar case studies from Susan Page’s consultations, the partner was usually overwhelmed by the gestures of love & support and actually changed themselves!

Thou Shalt Make Out

The second best piece of advice? Make out. Just randomly, no cues, no “leading up to it.” Of course, you don’t want to jump off the bat and play tonsil hockey voraciously. Randomly surprise your partner with a sudden bout of light kissing and just let it escalate. No interruptions. No reason. Why?

  1. The first sign of downfall in a relationship is when it starts to not feel like relationship anymore. You can’t summon those butterflies in your stomach at whim, but you can summon up a random kiss.
  2. It is spontaneous and romantic and makes you unpredictable. It can be a refreshing break from routine.
  3. It makes your partner feel attractive. Happiness bestows happiness. When you can see how you can totally liven up your partner’s day and change how s/he feels about his/herself, you feel great too.
  4. Neurolinguistic Programming. When you change your physiology, you change how you feel, think,and act. If you feel neglected or stale in a relationship, randomly taking your partner for a kiss and letting it escalate can usually whip you into a more excited, romantic mood.

So let go of being right. It’s not worth running in circular arguments all night with your partner. It’s not worth the guilt, the anger, the sense of unrequited justice. It’s not worth making your partner feel crappy. It’s not worth trashing a relationship over. The only prize in being right is stroking your ego by yourself. Just give boundless, unselfish love.

Photo by ardentphoto via flickr

Photo by ardentphoto via flickr

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