I just got through two paragraphs, reading a blog about relationships, and suddenly realised my husband and I have been together for almost 27 years. “Why are we so happy with each other, so happy together?” my husband asked me earlier today. I shrugged. “We’ve worked on it. Most people don’t.” I sincerely believe relationships are an art that needs to be practised, a skill-set that can be developed, like anything else in the world.
That might not sound incredibly romantic, but if grounded pragmatism bores you I can broaden the scope and tell you that I also believe my husband and I dreamed each other into being, beginning in childhood. We already ‘knew’ each other before we met. We were brought together by a star that has kept us orientated on one another, so we don’t lose out bearings. But that stuff is our private magic, the sacred stories we share in the right moment at the right time, around a campfire with friends.
Let me tell you instead about the practical magic I feel can be applied to any relationship to help it bloom and flourish, and seeing as most of what I’ve learned I’ve learned from my husband, I’d better check in with him and convey to you what he thinks are the secrets behind a good relationship. But he’s watching the football now, so I’ll let him soak up that joy while I immerse myself in the bliss of the written word and I’ll ask him when he comes to tell me about the game.
My husband and I have learned that you have to meet each other half way. You aren’t in a relationship if you aren’t willing to do this, you are just pretending. Relationships are about compromise and negotiation, about being prepared to give a bit because you love the other person and what you have together. Half way. That means don’t be a stubborn pain the neck, and or let the other person act like a spoiled brat. Love doesn’t do that. Love cares about itself AND the other person.
Find a middle ground, or take turns. It really is that simple. You aren’t right all the time. Neither are you wrong all the time. You can’t have what you want all the time, but neither should you constantly sacrifice your needs like some heroic martyr. The beautiful thing is, that when two people love each other, beyond speaking up to express your needs and feelings (with kindness and respect), you don’t usually have to argue your position much or fight for what you need, because the one who loves you will hear you and meet you half way, at the very least, just as you will do for them.
Good relationships are about kindness. My husband and I don’t always agree, but we have learned to argue (debate) with kindness, and with respect for one another. We don’t tear each other to shreds, but we do express hurt, disappointment, frustration and so on. You can do all of that without fighting dirty. Don’t do or say what you will regret later. Don’t damage the relationship, because arguments are just arguments. They pass.
And it helps to have a wee bit of a sense of humour. It truly can be hilarious when you realise you’ve heard it all before (your own carry on) and your partner is finding clever, light-hearted ways to point this out to you.
My husband finished the game. I just asked him what the secrets to a good relationship are. “Having fun together. I could give you an entire list. Sharing experiences together. Having children together. Travel…. I think honestly is important. That means being able to be yourself and letting each other be who you are. You find you mould each other into perfection anyway, in the end.”
Anyway, that’s his wisdom for now, and mine, because now we’ve got some great conversations to have together.