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Congratulations! You’ve finally decided to move in with the current love of your life! It doesn’t matter if marriage, homelessness, drug addiction, or aliens brought you to share a roof with your new love. What matters is that you grasp how intricate sharing space with another person can be.
Emotional twists and turns, lost sleep, and late night cereal laughed out the nose are in your future. But what about breakfast in bed, Sunday snuggles on the couch, and surprise embraces that escalate into neighbor-worrying frolic? It takes a bit more time, care, and whimsy to consistently squeeze such joy out of a relationship.
Here are five concepts that have consistently brought joy (and, you know, other things ^^) to my relationships:
1. The Toilet Seat Matters
You’ve heard about arguments that started because the toilet seat was left up? First, nobody argues about toilet seats. They argue because they feel ignored, annoyed, and under-serviced.
Here’s a quick fix: Implement a house rule that the toilet lid will be placed in a closed position after each use.
This is a good idea for two reasons:
- It’s something girls AND boys have to do – No more yelling at the boy because he didn’t put the seat down when he finished doing his fireman dance. If everybody has to put the lid down, then the toilet seat is no longer something to argue about.
- It’s sanitary – The toilet lid keeps things from falling in and reduces the amount of yickety bits that get into the air you breathe. Think if it this way: If you kept a bucket of poop in your kitchen, wouldn’t you want the lid shut? Unless you disinfect your toilet with each use (which we know you don’t) then you’ve essentially got a poop bucket in your house. Put a lid on it!
Make a game of it if you like. Whoever leaves the toilet open has to clean the bathroom, perhaps? Games involving household chores can be a very, very good thing.
2. Bring Attention To Things You Care About
Make a deal with your housemate/lover/soul mate/spouse/tenant to bring attention to things you’ve done that you’d like thanks, praise, or acknowledgement for. What? You expect your partner to just notice things? That might last for a few weeks, or even months. Eventually, dear idealist, you will see the sense of my words.
This one takes two to play, but the results tend to be pretty dramatic.
For example, let’s say you get home from work early and decide to give the fridge a good scrubbing. It’s shiny, smells like lemon cleaner, and the butter is actually in the butter cubby in the fridge door. You’ve done a bang-up job!
Does your partner notice when it/she/he/roar walks in after a particularly bad day at work? Not naturally, no. However, if you agreed previously to bring attention to things you care about, you’ll point out that you scrubbed the fridge. Your partner will remember the agreement and thank you for scrubbing the fridge before ordering you upstairs to run a hot bath and make some chocolate-covered strawberries. (I’ve never lived with somebody who did that for me. Bath, yes. Strawberries, check. Both? Nevah.)
Now, if you had asked your partner to scrub the fridge 6 times before said scrubbing took place, it will take some patience and understanding on your part to graciously thank him/her/it/roar for the effort. Stuff your pride back in its box and be thankful. If you’re lucky, your partner won’t mock you for leaving the toilet lid up as you clean the bathroom for the fifth week in a row!
3. No News is Not Good News
This is a simple one. As you grow accustomed to sharing space and interacting regularly with this creature you once found adorable, you’ll probably begin to avoid certain conversations under the guise of “picking battles.” You might think you’re doing a good thing for your relationship, but it’s unlikely that holding back your feelings and keeping silent will do anything but steal more joy from your life.
Surprise! It’s also very likely that your partner is doing the exact same thing. Silence on both sides means lots of dead air space around situations and topics that truly deserve your attention and conversation. As such, when your partner says nothing about your new computer, haircut, or sex change, it may be to avoid conflict rather than to bestow approval.
In general, it’s bad to ask questions to which you already know the answer and good to bring up topics you care about even if you must endure a bit of cloudiness before you get your answer. Don’t worry about mishaps. These things take practice! You’ve got time for practice! =)
4. You Must Make Time For Each Other
Sure, you see each other all the time. But how often do you block out the world and look into her/his/its/roar’s eyes as you listen for the tiny lilts and tensions that change the meaning of the words in your conversation? If you’re good at talking, when was the last time you blocked out time in your schedule just to quietly be with the person you love?
You might have painted grand pictures of spontaneity in the magical gallery of your romantic future. If that canvas doesn’t hold up as well as you’d expected, try scheduling time just to spend with your partner. As the saying goes, you can’t have spontaneous kisses in the rainy park if you don’t put walking in the park on your schedule! (Yes, it’s possible that I made up that saying. It still applies!)
5. You’ll Forget If You Don’t Do It Now
“Hey, would you mind helping me with … in a bit?” Is another way of saying, “If I were the type to blatantly order you to do things, I’d have you do this right now. But I’m too nice for that.”
Taking out the trash, giving back rubs, painting toenails, making salad, washing dishes, putting fossil fuels in the guzzler… all are things better done now instead of placed on the precarious shelf of the future.
Bonus Round: It’s very, very hard to yell at somebody who is washing dishes.
Remember, if you always try to be the first to ask forgiveness, you’re guaranteed to enjoy make-up sex with greater joy and frequency than any of the stodgy grunts who say they know how to pick their battles. Patience, grace, and a fearless desire to make your partner happy are your most valuable tools. Use them well, dear friend!
Would you like to add something I missed or comment on something you found delightful or thought-provoking? Let me know in a comment! Thanks for sharing a bit of your day with me!
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