One of the problems the old man and I have faced over the past few months since he started working from home, is that because we see each other physically all the fucking time, we think that’s enough input into our relationship, and our effort levels have dwindled.
I admit it…we take each other for granted. Which is okay…sometimes… in a long-term relationship, because let’s face it, there have to be some benefits…
But it can also be dangerous.
How quickly that tingling of excitement you used to feel at the mere sight of each other dissipates when you become little more than parents, ships in the night, friends with benefits, flat mates…
I’ll stop there. I’m sure you get the picture.
Added to which, the stresses of everyday life never seem to go away and without dragging my wonderful son’s name back through the mud again, I know for a fact that the old man has needed a period of adjustment to being with Kurt all day long.
And meanwhile, I’m permanently tetchy because I’ve lost my space, menopause, I’m too busy with work…
Blah de-fucking blah.
But what I do know, is that your relationship is important and it requires servicing now and again.
So I’ve done some research, so I don’t keep on ignoring the warning signs and become another middle-aged divorce statistic by ignoring the old man because I’m engrossed in War and Peace when he comes in for an inopportune hug; or when I forget to tell him how nice his dried-out curry and rice (rice again, hun?) was, because I’m too busy checking out the new Bachelor on Facebook…
And here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Kissing – Forget about all the excuses for why you don’t kiss anymore, like you have no time, bad breath, it’s awkward because its been so long, or you’ve just eaten garlic… and just do it. Force it, if you have to. Remember those days when you couldn’t get through an advert without a snog? According to relationship psychologists, you need to make sure you kiss hello and kiss good-bye, EVERY TIME, like I imagine perfect, nice couples do… the sort that live in vicarages, drink tea, eat cake together and call each other ‘love.’
- Touching – I have to stop swatting the old man away like a fly because I’m too busy for affection. We both need to stop wasting our depleted levels of affection (because we expend them all on the dog) and use them on each other. I know I still like to be touched because only this morning I got turned on when I had my eyebrows waxed, just because my beautician stroked my forehead.
- Thanking Each Other – We’ve stopped appreciating each other and thanking each other for the things we (very occasionally) still do for each other without feeling resentful. There is a danger that we are developing into two overly-independent, selfish individuals who live under the same roof yet whose only common ground is the children, the dog and getting outrageously pissed together. What happens when the children leave?
- Not Criticising Each Other – Or at least think about it before you do. We do this because we know each other so well, to the point that we have heard each other’s anecdotes a million times, can predict what the other is about to say and how we will present it. Good communicators are good listeners too, and when you love someone you respect them and if you have if you have to listen to the story of how your husband threw up on the table in an Indian restaurant another time, so be it.
- Respecting – Seems obvious, but when you’re feeling snarky with your partner, it’s amazing the levels you can sink to. ‘Respect’ is more than not being rude to each other or embarrassing them, it’s about extolling their talents and contribution to other people at every opportunity, even when you’re not really feeling it; it’s about letting them go first even if you want to, and showing them and the world that you value them, even when they make mistakes.
- Communicating – this one seems the most obvious to me because I find it hard to keep my gob shut, but we’re not all natural ‘talkers’ and sometimes the talkers need to learn to only to say what needs to be said and the bottlers need to tell you when they’re in pain. Communicating also gives you a chance to evaluate your relationship together and make constructive comments about how to improve it before you kill each other or walk away.