Dita Parker

Friday, September 9, 2011

Frisky Friday! We need to talk.

So. You got yourself a partner in life. For life, for now, married, engaged...doesn't matter. You thought the getting part was tricky? Try holding on to one. The chase may be over but the work isn't done. Far from it.

There's a good reason fairy tales fade out at "And they lived happily ever after." The epilogue would read something like this: "And they would have humped happily ever after as well had not his bf had a meltdown, her computer crashed and the car died, their bosses gone on vacation leaving them to do all the work and the baby cried for three years straight." Let's face it, who wants overtime and dirty laundry or diapers in their picture-perfect storybook? Sexy? I think not. Reality? I'm afraid so. End of story? Hardly.

Hubby comes home from work. Without further ado: "You'd tell me if you were unhappy, right?" Well hello to you too. "I'm not unhappy." Level stares all-around. "But if you were. You'd tell me, right?" Well, yeah. "I am not unhappy." As if he's not hearing me, "But if you were, you would tell me, right?"

It turned out a colleague of his was getting a divorce. Or his wife was divorcing him because she was, and I quote, unhappy. According to the man, he had no idea. According to Hubby, the man seemed genuinely shocked, saddened and confused. I don't know them. Without knowing more and assuming the rest, it's hard to say what really happened and when. I'm going to make a bold assumption all the same. It came down to one of three things: a) he was hard of hearing, b) she never said a word, or c) a little bit of both. My second bold assumption: a little bit of both.

Miscommunication or a total lack of communication has to be the number one reason relationships fall apart. You'd think that when two people get together, the hardest part is behind you. You found each other. Now you just enjoy the ride. It can work out that way, but not indefinitely. You have to find each other, find your way to each other, time and time again, or find each other on different planets. It is a conscious, constant effort to grow together, not apart. It can be done. I promise you. You can course-correct. Always.

Everything in writing, relationships, life, boils down to words, speech, expression, delivery, communication. Everything. It's such a cliché, you say? Talk is so overrated? If it were that easy, if opening your mouth and ears was all it took, everybody would be doing it and no relationship would ever fall apart? Turns out not everybody is doing it. Because they are all talked out. Bad listeners. In denial. Busy. Afraid of what they might hear or what could come out of their mouth. My third outrageous assumption: It is just that easy. You speak, and you listen when your partner does. And you pay attention to how you put those words out there. Do I know of a better way? Let me break it to you gently. No.

Don't shoot the messenger, but people can't actually read your mind. Some are more sensitive and perceptive than others, but for the most part, we still have to resort to opening our mouths if we want to get our message out there. It's not fair to your partner, or anyone else for that matter, if they have to pry every thought and feeling out of you. No fair. Keeping them guessing is even worse. You have to volunteer your thoughts or forfeit the right to be hurt by your partner's actions and reactions or lack thereof. Because they can't hear what you're thinking. Because they can only guess at what you're feeling. And when people have to start guessing, that's when not-so-funny things start happening.

Unless you're a total misanthrope, you're courteous to, mindful of and interested in the people you interact with all day long; your boss, colleagues, friends, total strangers. Then you get home and disregard your partner. Because you're all talked out. Because you're tired. Because they're safe, they can take it. You work hard for the money, you need your me time, your hobbies and your friends. Or the end of the day is the only moment in the day when you don't have to talk about anything to anyone after a long day of talking to everyone and their brother mother sister lover. Can't you please have one area, one relationship, in your life that's not too demanding of you? Let me break it to you gently. If it's The Relationship, no.

You have to bring your head and heart home as well, not just a dog-tired body. Yes, I know, it's sometimes too much to ask, and if it's just on occasion that you can't do more than kiss each other goodnight then so be it. But if it's becoming the norm, I'd worry. If you're home and still talking to everyone on the planet except the person next to you, I'd really worry. Believe me, I know, you only want to make everyone happy, and it makes you happy too keeping in touch and saying hello and taking a break from both the job and the family scene, but take care. If you fall asleep with your laptop in your arms instead of your partner, if you fumble for your phone in the middle of having sex because you think it bleeped, you may one day be told to go fuck your gadgets and served with divorce papers the next. (True story, btw.)

You may well wake up next to a stranger one morning, look at them thinking you should probably know them, but they're just not the person they used to be. In all likelihood, they're not. But where were you when they morphed? Not paying attention to everyone except your loved one, I hope? I know. Sometimes nothing you say or do gets through. Not every relationship is salvageable but every serious relationship is worth a serious shot at saving.

You can't outsource happiness. It's not your partner's mission in life to make you happy, it's to be happy alongside you, and until you take responsibility for your actions and words, HEA is not a realistic goal. So. Your next week's mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do an inventory. Pay close attention not only to who you talk to during the week but how, especially at home. If there's not much talking going on, are the silences in your relationship comfortable or awkward? If something has been bothering you for a while, take it up with your partner. Don't start with "You (always...)," start with "I," how you're feeling, what you're thinking. Catch yourself being nippy. What's that all about? So what if you miss the latest episode of whatever one night. You'll miss your partner more when they're gone. Agree that on certain nights the only gadgets allowed in the bed are the ones you purchased and intend to use together/on each other. Okay, stopping now, that's more than one task, that's a blueprint. And the only way I know to keep the boat afloat.

Hey lady, what the heck does this have to do with sex? Have you been listening with your mouths and not your ears open, sweetie darlings? Everything! If you and your partner are not on speaking terms, chances are you're not on fucking terms, either. If all is said and done in your household, good job, enjoy! If the fairy tale has become stale, if sex is the furthest thing from your mind, let's see if we can't do something about it next Friday. Let's see if we can't get in the mood for love. I know one thing that helps. Think sexy thoughts.

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