Those who know me in person know that I am not the definition of high fashion. Some may even say I am not the definition of low fashion. Yes, my clothing generally follows the axiom of ‘function over form’. That being said I did most recently even wear a dress shirt and tie to impress a lovely young lady. So why I am writing a relationship blog entitled ‘What to wear’ if I know little to nothing about fashion? Simple, the article I am going to tell you to put on is not an article of clothing at all, but will do far more for your appearance than the finest ball gown or Italian tie. So what is this thing that can so improve our appearance? Diamonds? Fancy jewelry? Expensive cologne? Actually no to all of those. In fact this item will not cost you anything. Enough teasing, let me tell you the answer, or more to the point let me use this quote to explain what I am trying to say.
“Good humor is one of the best articles of dress one can wear in society” – William Thackeray
Is humor really that important? Yes. A good loving sense of humor can fill a relationship with many amazing things. Humor can take away the sting of a disagreement. Humor can lessen the pain of an accidental hurt. Humor can intensify love and half sorrow. So I implore of you to develop humor with your partner. Not humor of the biting sarcastic nature, but one of the fun and childish nature. Can you share a children’s joke like “What do you call a fish with no eye? fsh” Or even make up a silly word that only the two of you know that brings a smile to both of your faces? Recall moments that made you both laugh as often as you can. Always look for the joy and humor in life and in your relationship. A good sense of humor was in the top 3 of most desired traits of both men and women. Nobody likes to be with someone who doesn’t smile. So find some good jokes and always look for ways to make your partner laugh. Laughter and Love always make a good pair.
Let me share a story I have heard with you. The story is called “The house of a thousand mirrors” At the edge of a small village there was a house with a thousand mirrors. One day a happy little dog was walking by wagging his tail. “Let me see what is in this magical house” the dog thought to himself. So he bounced up the stairs and looked inside. What did he see? A thousand other happy dogs all wagging their tails back and him and smiling. “This is a fine house” the dog thought to himself “I shall come back here often” A few days later a different dog was walking by. This dog was a sad dog, he was told by the other dog about a house on the edge of the village that contained thousands of happy dogs. Surely he thought one of these dogs can cheer me up. So up the stairs he went head hung low. He peered inside the house and what did he see? Not the thousands of happy dogs he was promised, but instead many other sad dogs like himself. “This will not do at all” he said to himself. “I will never return here again”
Now the moral to this story should be rather obvious, but how does it relate to the subject we are discussing? Specifically our relationship? In short it has everything to do with our relationship. In our story both dogs approached the same house but had distinctly different experiences. Why is that? What they saw in the house was a reflection of what they brought to the house. This is true of our relationships as well. Quite often an problems we may be experiencing in our relationship can be a reflection of what we, ourselves are bringing to the relationship. If we find our spouse to be unromantic or quick to anger, can we say that we are brining patience and romance to the relationship ourselves? As we have mentioned quite a few times in this series of blogs you cannot hope to change your spouse you must work on yourself. Remember, life and our relationships which tend to be a focused representation of our lives, often reflect most what we bring to them. If you hope to attract a positive and loving spouse into your life, you must be a positive and loving person yourself first. Sometimes when we do focus on the qualities we desire we can even end up attracting a different partner into our lives, one that is more suitable to the qualities we desire.
Another valuable lesson that may not be so obvious in this story can be shown by the second sad dog. If you recall the sad dog was approaching the house, which serves as a symbol of life, or in our case a relationship, to fix him. He thought if he could only find the happy dogs he heard about they might fix his sadness. However he still approached the house as a sad dog. The same holds true for our relationships. If you are going into a relationship to receive love, but do not love yourself or bring love to your partner, you will not find the love you seek, even from the most caring partner. This may sound sad, but in it is the seed of great opportunity. If you wish to attract a loving and caring partner, or even trickier, transform your current partner to a more loving and caring person the answer is easy. All you have to do to find the traits you desire is embody them yourself. You will either see them reflected in your partner or perhaps even attract a new and more perfect partner for you. So the lesson today is remember relationships, much like life, can only return what we bring to them.
Several years back I was heading on vacation. The young lady I was dating was unable to go with for a variety of reasons. We were discussing how much we would be missing each other when an interesting thing happened. She then asked me what time zone I would be in. After telling her I could see she was doing some rough calculations in her head. She then asked if I could do her a simple favor. Being one who likes to make their partner happy I was more than happy to oblige. This was her favor “Tomorrow night at 10pm your time can you stop and look up at the moon for about 60 seconds?” This seemed like an odd request considering there seemed to be nothing special going on with the moon that I knew that day. After assuring her I would I had to inquire why she asked that I do that particular thing. “Because even though we are apart I know at the exact same time we will be staring at the exact same moon” When I first heard it I thought it sounded rather corny and a little cliché, but agreed anyway. Fast forward 24 hours. I find myself on a beautiful tropical island with some friends sharing dinner and cocktails. Now I cannot explain why I happened to look at the clock when I did, but it just happened to be 9:55. In my rum induced state I had almost forgotten the promise I had made. Not wanting to appear too much like a hopeless romantic I just told my friends I had to use the men’s room, which wasn’t a complete lie after rum anyway. So there I found myself standing on the beach in front of the ocean looking at my watch thinking to myself “All I have to do is quickly look up at the moon right at ten so I can say I did it and then I can go back to my cold and refreshing cocktail” So I waited about the 90 seconds I had to go before ten o’clock and my brain played a funny trick on me. Suddenly I started to wonder if she was doing the same thing. Before I knew it ten o’clock had arrived. I went to take my quick glance and noticed how amazing the clouds passing by the moon looked that night. It had a shade of dark purple I had never seen before. As I looked for a few seconds I began to picture the girl I left behind doing the same. Suddenly I wasn’t is such a hurry to get back to my rum (one of the few times that can be said) the rest of the evening was filled with thoughts of her and the moon. Sure I enjoyed the company of my friends and even a few more cocktails, but I felt a connection with a woman thousands of miles away I just can’t explain.
So what is the point of this story? The point is this. At some point in any relationship you will be apart from the one you love. This can be a healthy thing as everyone needs a little room for themselves and to experience and discover things they can bring back to the relationship. It also underscores the power of symbols and how you can use them to stay connected to your partner even when they are not around. Perhaps you have a piece of amazing jewelry they made you? Perhaps they wrote you a nice letter about everything they love about you? Even the journals we discussed in a previous post can serve as a way of staying connected even when you have to be apart physically. So find that symbol or create one with your partner. I have seen everything from necklaces that have puzzle pieces that fit together to matching tattoos. Whatever works for you and your partner. Also remember it never hurts to stop and look at the moon.
It has been mentioned in this blog how important a sense of purpose is for attaining goals and living an amazing life. For without a destination even the most detailed map will be useless. Even without a map, if you know where you are going and pay attention to whether you are getting closer or not and keep trying you will eventually get there. All of these facts hold just as true in your relationships. We are focusing on intimate relationships, but this can go for any type of relationship you can think of.
So what is the purpose of your relationship? It is a question many of us may have never thought of. Perhaps you are saying “My relationship doesn’t really have a purpose. I just want to enjoy it” That is fine, and you should enjoy your relationship to the fullest. However, having an individual and joint goals within your relationship will add another dimension of closeness. You don’t have to solve the world’s problems, or run for the highest office together. Still defining goals that you can accomplish both on your end and working together can develop an additional bond that can turn a good relationship great. So what are some examples of both individual and couple oriented goals? Let us look at the individual side first. What goals do you have to bring to your partner? Notice I said bring to your partner. You should focus solely on what you can bring to the relationship. Often times if you notice your partner has a particular challenge perhaps offering some encouragement in that area would be helpful. I suggest writing a few things down. There is something about seeing things in black and white that helps remind us and stay focused. One of the things that should always make it to your list is making your partner feeling attractive. We touched on the benefits that this can bring to your relationship. Ask yourself “What have I done to make my partner know how attractive they are to me?”. Did you make them your screen saver on your cell phone or computer? Did you mention to them that you have a picture of them on your desk or in your locker at work? Did you simply tell them how beautiful or handsome they look that day? This idea, if done with sincerity, cannot be overdone. Think of how you feel when someone tells you that you look nice? Wouldn’t you want to give that feeling to the one you love? You can even turn it into a fun game trying to come up with new and creative ways to show your partner how enamored you are with their appearance. This is made much easier if you are fortunate enough to have a creative partner. Which leads us to our next goal that should make any list, let your partner know what it is about them you enjoy. Is it the fact they are creative? Do you enjoy their laugh? Their view of the world? There are a million different things to enjoy about anyone and letting them know will only increase their love for you and your closeness with each other. There are other things you can add to your list. Make my partner laugh or smile is a good one. Help out a little more around the house is another that is always appreciated. You know your partner best so you know good goals to focus on. The key here is to write them down and review them at least once a week. You will see your relationship come alive.
So couples goals. What could they be? There are big things such as starting a business together, but that is not for every couple and can even have the potential for additional stress. So focus on what you and your partner both excel and are good at. Do you both like frozen yogurt? Perhaps you could start an online blog about great frozen yogurt places you have visited. My personal favorite is finding ways that both you are your partner can work together to help others. Could you help out once a month at a homeless shelter? Could you have an online forum that helps people who are feeling down? To simply noticing people who you come into contact with who have lost their smile and working together to bring it back. Quite often individual goals can also turn into couples goals. Does your partner have a hobby or business of their own? Helping them in whatever way you can could not only be a personal goal but also lead you to experiencing a great moment and sense of accomplishment as a couple.
So decide what your purpose of your relationship is. Decide what you can do both as an individual and as a couple. Write it down and begin to act on it today. You will be amazed at the miracles that will happen!
This quote from Buddha reminds us how damaging anger is to a situation. It often hurts the party to which it is directed, but certainly always hurts the party distributing it. It may feel good to yell or say something at your partner when you are upset. Especially if you feel they have done something to hurt you. Still by doing so you can leave a far more damaging situation than the one they have brought to you. This is best described in the story of the broken plate. A mother had a son who had an extremely bad temper. He would often do or say some of the most hurtful things. After which he truly seemed repentant. No matter what the mother did she could not get the child to think before he reacted. One day while washing dishes she had a great idea. She called her son into the room with her and handed him a glass plate. “Throw that plate on the ground” she instructed the young man. After some encouragement the young man did as he was told. As expected the plate broke into several pieces. “Now let’s glue this plate back together” her mother said. So they worked together for quite some time and had the plate looking pretty close to its original state, although a few cracks and chips were still visible. “Now say you’re sorry to this plate” the mother said. The child looked confused but saw his mother was serious. So he said his apology. “Now is the plate good as new?” she asked. The child shook his head no because although it was back together it would never look the same. The mother went on to explain that is what we do to the hearts of our loved ones when we are angry. Although the pain can be mended and apologies can be given they relationship will never be able to be put back together the same again.
So the next time you are in a heated debate with your spouse, friend, coworker before you say the well crafted biting reply you have been working on, think of the story of the broken plate and ask yourself is it really worth the damage that can never be undone?
“To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it”
I am always interested in how couples that seem passionate late into their years together manage to accomplish such a thing. As my relationship started to crumble I began to do the craziest thing. I asked them. Let me tell you there is not much you can do to light up the eyes of a loving elderly couple than to ask them how they make it work. Speaking of work I was late many times because these conversations lasted far longer than I ever imagined.
So what is the secret? There are a million different ones, but one that stuck out in my head was from a couple I knew in the town of Greendale Wisconsin where I used to work. When I asked this couple who seemed more in love at 80 than I was at 30. The husband’s eyes lit up and he looked around as if he were about to tell me a heavily guarded secret. Naturally I was very interested. He whispered so only we could hear “We use our superpower” At first I was a bit hesitant to ask, especially with his wife nodding intensely in agreement. Still, curiosity got the best of me and I went for it. “Forgiveness” was all he had to say. Sensing my doubt in the power of his answer he all but insisted I sit down and listen to his explanation. Seeing that they did seem to have the evidence to back it up and I really didn’t mind being a few minutes late to the post office I sat down. He told me to think of the worst thing my lady had done. How it had made me feel. After a few seconds I seemed to have picked the one that did the trick. “Think of how bad that made you feel” the old man urged me on. After a while I did feel myself getting a little hot under the collar. Then he asked me how she was feeling right now. Ok I said she probably didn’t even know we were having this conversation. “And if she did?” he asked. I offered she might be mad I was discussing it with him or she might even feel bad for making me feel the way she did. “Young man you need to throw that memory away” he told me. The only thing worth hanging onto is love. By having these bad memories you are throwing rocks in your garden. Forgiveness he told me heals everyone and not forgiving hurts everyone. You’re going to make more mistakes yourself young man and if your lady doesn’t forgive you, I think you both will be miserable. He was right. We must truly forgive and leave behind the pain our partners have caused us. If it is a healthy relationship chances are they have beat themselves up far more about how they made us feel anyway. Forgiveness is freedom. It frees us from the pain of the memory and it frees our relationships up to grow. So whoever you need to forgive do so today and set yourself free.
“How much better than wine is your Love”
Song of Solomon 4;10
Ok, yesterday’s post became a little wordy. Good news is this one is short and sweet. To some of you this idea may sound a bit cliché’. That’s OK, try it anyway. Toast your love each time you and your loved one are both holding wine glasses. Why? you may ask. Simple, love is something worth celebrating. You are still together when countless other couples have thrown in the towel. Your relationship is something worth toasting. You both work hard to keep it going and that should be celebrated. Another thing you should toast is the person you are with. It is a simple and fabulous opportunity to honor them. Don’t go on about it, keep it short and simple. Are they a creative person? Say “here is to being with such a wonderful and creative soul” or something to that effect. Do you admire their choice in music? Their adorable laugh? Perhaps you are just grateful they put up with you. It is amazing how a “thank you for always being so patient with me” sounds when clinking a wine glass. Perhaps your partner drinks Jameson? works just the same. I even know of an elderly couple who toast each other with their morning coffee cups. It doesn’t have to be alcohol. Whenever the mood strikes you and you are your partner happen to have glasses in your hands, take the opportunity to grow your love.
On a side note, this works amazingly well with friends as well. Do you have a trait you admire in a particular friend? Next time you are out having a few cold beers toast them on it and watch the friendship grow.