I published a version of this at my other website, Vacilando.
I Do Not Give Relationship Advice, But….
While recently speaking at Region 2 Congress I was having a conversation with a newly married acquaintance. After the obligatory congratulations and wishing him luck I shared that my 25th anniversary was coming up. He asked- with all the traveling I do, What is the secret for a lasting relationship? He was worried that as a gymnastics coach his relationship may be doomed before it started. (I wonder what the divorce rate is for coaches? )
I was honored that he asked me and I really gave thought to my answer before I shared.
What came to me first is that no relationship is “perfect” there will always be some ups and downs. Consistent communication between you and your partner will help you navigate the bumps in the road. If something REALLY bothers you – you need to be able to tell them. AND you need to listen to the grievances of your partner as well with out getting offended.
When I was first married I had a habit of just kicking off my shoes when I came in from outside. It drove my wife crazy when she would trip on my shoes when she came in. She got so angry that she picked up my shoe and was about to throw it outside when she slowed down and thought, “Why don’t I tell him first?” . She told me and I said, “Oh, sorry about that. I’ll take care of that.” I never left my shoes in front of the door again. She told me- I fixed it. No big deal.
A good relationship is NOT a partnership. Most partnerships are viewed as a 50/50 agreement. In a marriage you have to always be willing to give more than you receive. It is more a 60/60 or 70/70 deal with each giving more so that the relationship grows. This is important to remember as time goes on. A flower planted in the richest soil will need some added nutrients after a few years. Otherwise the flower loses its brilliance.
When you return home from a trip whether it was for a conference or competition remember that your spouse has been home, taking care of things, their life went on. BEFORE you unload about what a great (or horrible) competition you had, what you learned at a conference or how well your lectures went. STOP, slow down, take a minute and listen to what has been going on in their life. What has been going on is important to them and you need to listen.
Gymnastics coaches are passionate about what they do. Most LOVE their job and the ability to interact with children and really make a difference in the lives of so many. As much as you are passionate about your profession, your spouse is equally passionate about something they do. It may be their job, it make be cooking, writing, or gardening. FEED their passion. Do not expect your spouse to fully understand gymnastics, but don’t be condescending. Explain things, share your passion but also share in their passion.
Never underestimate the value of kissing someone good morning and good night. Yes, I know — it’s so traditional. This simple loving gestures speaks volumes. I want to kiss you when I open my eyes. I want to hold you for a minute before we sleep. No matter what happens between you during the day, there will always be this.
Understand that relationships come with expectations and commitments. There are things that you will HAVE to do that you might not want to. Whether it’s a dinner party or a concert. Get over it. Put on a smile and go. (and while you are there- no whining). Relationships come with obligations. Your spouse probably doesn’t want to sit through a Level 3 meet. But does.
Give presents. Do the unexpected. Surprise each other. Is it the loving sexy text during the day? Or maybe buying his favorite cookies at the store? Surprises do not have to be big to be fabulous. It’s amazing how offering up a bit of a loving surprise can keep the heat burning.
Don’t pick on each other in public. Don’t make each other the butt of a joke in front of people. When we use the phrase “at each other’s expense” that is real. Every time you turn someone into your punch line, you are paying out of their self-esteem. Don’t do it. Along that same line, don’t correct your spouse in public. There is just no point to it. It is petty. If they are telling a story, “It was just before our son was born and…” and you remember that it was clearly AFTER he was born. So what? Was that important to the story? Let it go.
Help each other. Whether it is taking on some work, or simply cheerleading. How can you help each other when one of you gets overwhelmed? Don’t just ask, “What can I do?” do something.
Have each other’s backs. I do not tolerate people talking badly about their partner — ever. I don’t care how small it is. This is a zero tolerance zone. If your partner can’t count on you to defend them — who can they trust? and NEVER fight in public.
Lastly- It is very easy to list the faults of your partner or spouse.
She drives me crazy when she does________.
I really hate it when he ____________.
I wish they would just ____________.
We even find it easy to criticize ourselves.
I really need to be a better job at ________________.
But when was the last time you listed the things you love about your partner?
I love how she can make me smile even when I have a bad day.
I love the way he interacts with the kids.
I love how hard she works at her job.
I love the pride he has in his appearance.
Now go, make your list, and go tell them every once and a while!
How did I know it was the right one? Even after 25 years? When I pull into the drive and see her car there, I just smile.