Relationship lessons we have learned

1.  Even though sometimes it seems like they’re mind-readers, partners really aren’t.  They need to be told things.

2.  Trust that miscommunications are just that, unintentional and miscommunications.

3.  There are multiple ways to load a dishwasher.  Even if partner doesn’t actually do it “right” the dishes will still get cleaned.  If they don’t, then you can have a discussion about it, but be willing to change your thinking on it too.  The problem is the optimal way to clean dishes (or change a diaper or whatever), not to get partner to do it your way.  (Funny story… my first roommate yelled at me about how I put the tp roll in, so I switched to flipping it over even though it wasn’t how I was brought up… then #2 finally went berserk and after a semester of flipping the tp roll, she yelled at me to do it under.  Earlier communication would have solved that!  I asked my third roommate what she preferred and she thought I was weird for asking.)

4.  You do not have to put up with bad behavior.  Respect is important, and the lack of it is the #1 cause of divorce (according to psychologists who study facial behavior, though they call it contempt or eye-rolling).

5.  Having a roommate is good practice for having a partner, except it may be easier to physically share space with someone you’re romantically attached to.

6.  Even if a partner is no good at something, ze can learn, and potentially even one day surpass your own abilities at the task with enough practice.  Starting out may be bumpy, but if partner keeps at it, ze will overcome.  This is true for all sorts of cooking and cleaning.

7.  If you know a relationship is not going to work out, it is less painful for the guy (or gal) in question if you cut if off sooner rather than later.  Pity dating just leads to more dreadful break-ups.  Learning how to say no is an important skill.

What are some relationship lessons you have learned?

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28 Responses to “Relationship lessons we have learned”

  1. Molly Says:

    If he/she seems like an ass chances are he/she is an ass. No judgment here for those that enjoy being an ass (You’re a grown up and can make your own decisions on who you want to be)!

  2. bogart Says:

    List item #3 reminded me of a conversation I was having with DH about how we approach something or other related to DS where I said, “I think it is important to be consistent,” and DH said, astutely, “That is just code for, ‘I want you to do things my way.'” Well, yes, yes, it is. Otherwise I’d just say, “Oh, OK, I’ll do it your way,” and the conversation would conclude.

    I’d add

    Don’t keep lists.

    This is a funny thing to add to a list (!), but it translates, roughly, to this — if DP does something obnoxious, rude, or otherwise unacceptable, you have ~24 hours to (a) be hysterical, outraged, whatever, and/or (b) elicit an apology/negotiate improvements and/or (c) storm out of the relationship never to return. After that, you must suck it up and never speak of it again. The actual application’s not quite as strict as all that, but the main point is no one is ever allowed to say, “Oh yeah? Well what about that time that you put American cheese on my ham sandwich when you know I only like
    Swiss?” Not to downplay the horror of American “cheese,” but there you go.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I agree. If you’re fighting about the cheese, just argue about the cheese this time — don’t argue about the cheese from last month! More to the point, if your main problem is feeling unappreciated, don’t make it about cheese at all but about how you feel about the cheese. (I suck at this.)

  3. Alyssa Says:

    I totally agree with bogart’s rule about no lists. When fighting about something, try to stick to the topic at hand and not what happened in the past.

    Also (from my experience), if she/he cheated on someone to be with you, chances are she/he will do the same to you down the road.

      • bogart Says:

        Second that yes;

        Relatedly, if ze doesn’t know what “no” means in a polite, public context (asks you out on a date, asks if you’d like a beer), don’t expect hir to know what “no” means in an intense, intimate, private context. (Can you tell everything I know about men, I learned from horses? Never tolerate a large creature with an agenda distinct from your own (not better or worse, just different) who doesn’t respect your personal space or know which instructions must be followed. When you ride a new horse for the first time, make sure to tell it to stop — and find out that it will — before you are in a setting (unenclosed space, high speed) where it really matters).

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        One of my colleagues got thrown today– she’s very happy for helmets. (She’s sore but nothing broken.)

      • bogart Says:

        Oh dear, I am sorry. Helmets = good. Glad she is just sore.

  4. ABDMama Says:

    Don’t push someone to make up their mind about somethning they are thinking through. Give them space and time to really finalize their opinions.

  5. Jacq Says:

    Stay away if they move too fast.

  6. Cloud Says:

    One rule I’ve added since having kids: don’t argue about organizational things in the heat of the (inevitably) sleep deprived moment. Wait until you can discuss it calmly over a beer. You’ll get a better outcome.

  7. Debbie M Says:

    1. Every new roommate or partner can teach you something cool. At least a good recipe for something cheap and quick.

    2. If you don’t like your roommate, develop interests outside the home.

    3. After a breakup, write down all the reasons you know why the break up happened and any other good reasons you should be apart–it is so easy to forget these later and make a bad decision.

    4. After a breakup, console yourself by doing things the other person didn’t want to do. But also decide which cool new things your partner helped you become that you would like to keep.

    5. Between roommates, have a space-hogging party (I like to have an “art” show where people bring things they made and we put presumptuous titles on it).

    6. It’s okay to do things separately that you’d always thought you’d share and vice versa. You are each unique, so it makes sense that your relationship might be, too.

    7. Don’t lie. If you need to say something the other person doesn’t want to hear, grow a pair and do it. Try to be tactful or at least start off saying, “I have bad news” or “I have a really big favor to ask” to let them psych themselves. It is in your best interest to explain what you really want at least once, even if you’re pretty sure you can’t get it.

    8. There is no good way to break up with someone who doesn’t want to be broken up with, but some ways are much worse than others. You do need to actually tell them, preferably in private and in person. You don’t have to say why. You can stand a few horrible minutes of tears if you want to be free.

    9. Everyone is a weirdo in some ways–don’t expect to find a roommate or partner who is a weirdo in the same ways, just find someone who can handle it. (I’d like someone frugal who eats like an eight-year-old and likes ballroom dancing, but it’s good enough to have someone who is responsible with money, lets me eat like an eight-year-old and lets me go ballroom dancing.)

    10. In fact, figure out what weaknesses you don’t mind (I don’t mind tactlessness and a general lack of social skills if I also get honesty; I don’t mind big egos if the person is actually awesome in some way).

    11. People are multifaceted. They have an unbelievable number of facets and you will never find someone who matches in all of them. There are some you need to match on, and there are some you can tolerate differences in.

    12. Compromise is a beautiful word. There are more than two ways to do something–try to get creative and think of an acceptable third way. Guy wants more sex? Get some lube. One lives paycheck to paycheck, the other likes to save? Have allowances or separate accounts. One likes relaxing vacations and the other likes exciting vacations? Take separate vacations.

    Okay, that’s enough for now.

  8. First Gen American Says:

    Wow..the comments are as good as the article.

    I’d add, don’t force your partner to do something you like but they don’t and vice versa. It’s better to do things apart than it is to force the other to do things they hate just so you can be together. If you must, pick a day of the week where you can do whatever you want. You go see your chick flick and they can go fishing.

    My husband says that my bad memory is the secret to our relationship success.

    I also would add..if your partner hates all of your friends or vice versa, then that’s a red flag as well.

  9. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    There are multiple ways to load a dishwasher.

    Are you f*cken out of your mind!>!?!?!? There is only ONE correct way to load the dishwasher!!! And if you don’t do it that way, the dishes DON’T GET TRULY CLEAN!!!!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Not true: we have run randomized controlled trials at Chez Grumpy. Maybe you need a better dishwasher.

      (Which is not to say there are not wrong ways to load a dishwasher, obviously there are. But there are multiple right ways.)

  10. mareserinitatis Says:

    Regarding toilet paper orientation: I just stick a new roll on top of the dispenser. This makes my husband nuts. I have no idea why I do it, though…just doesn’t seem important to completely change it out.

  11. Link self-love « Grumpy rumblings of the half-tenured Says:

    […] good ones… on uh, the science of potty training… why we have everything,  important relationship lessons, the persecuted majority, progressive taxes… gosh, there must be […]


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