I recently attended the wedding of a great friend. This beautiful event was supported by a spectacular venue, decorations, and charming dresses. And most importantly, loving people. As the event began, the pastor took her spot under an elegant wood arch aligned with flowers. She opened with a speech to remind the audience, friends and family of our role in this matrimony. As we listened, we became confidants. As we watched the couple exchange vows, we became advocates for their happiness. We were not just gathered here to witness, but to become collaborators in the entirety of this marriage journey.
We are called to provide support, to help in times of struggle, heal in times of pain and celebrate in times of joy to those of our friends who include us in their special day. We have a part in this union and this family throughout the many years they remain married.
This, of course, got me thinking. I thought about all the people seated in the chairs beside me and standing near the couple. I thought about their journey and the importance of the role I was about to play in the lives of others.
Marriage is a time for happiness and celebration. But Marriage is most importantly a time when our selfish ways are put aside and we grow in love. Relationships that support the marriage are essential for that growth to happen.
As I continue to read books from leaders, mentors, and professional athletes, I learn that people need direction from different avenues and various people. We are all shaped by our families, our communities, our teachers, and our peers. We are all snapped by our relationships.
I have been to numerous weddings throughout the past 10 years, and I had to ask myself how have I continued to support those individuals and families?
When we put on suits and ties, pretty dresses and dazzling shoes, we are not just attending one event for that relationship, but we are asked to continue to provide support and understanding for the marriage journey and each of its partners.
I was moved by the pastor engaging the attendies in the discussion to support marriage in it’s longevity. Community is an intricate part of supporting marriages. We can not do this alone.
My name is Laurie Kjelstrom, M.A. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern who is passionate about helping Marriages sustain happiness and helping families live healthy lives.
If you are in California, please call me today for a consultation: 714-747-4393
“In the absence of information, we fill in the blanks with our imagination.” -Dave
Let me tell you the story of my best friend, Dave. I met Dave at a Denny ‘s on Walnut street in Bloomington, Indiana. I was a doe-eyed freshman in college and he was approaching his sophomore year. Winter time had just begun and my gray Crown Victoria was still covered with piles of snow as I drove the large beast into the parking lot. I made my way through the swinging doors of the restaurant and asked for an application. Dave was a server there. It was thanks to Dave that I got that job, secured him as my roommate months later, and made my way towards the cynical adulthood I would come to know in college.
Dave remembered everything by year. He would say, “Back in 1999 when the such and such album came out and the kids were drinking apple pucker and staying out too late.” Dave was in his 30’s but his references solidified the eras. He would reminisce about decades of good tv shows that later generations would never know. At any given time you can find him in a simple white-tee or a thrown-on button up with old jeans; electronic device in one hand, coffee in the other. Dave and I were friends during some of the most influential years of our lives; making the most out of college between small venue concerts and house parties, sliding into classes hung over, and getting food from the dorm cafeterias. We were living a micro-version of what we thought to be an adult life. Dave and I were a staple in what was so cleverly referred to as “The Oregon Trail Generation.” Not only did we grow up playing outside, but we were on the cusp of the end of “the dream.” We remained hopeful through philosophy classes, inspired through businesses classes, and moved by the hustle of the University setting.
Years later, Bachelor Degrees in hand with hopeful smiles and bright-eyed wonder we walked through the doors of corporate America. Corporate America giggled at us as we were escorted to our cubicles under horrible florescent lighting and our dreams of big money and managing were crushed. Welcome to entry-level.
We realized that we’d have student loans we could barely pay in shitty corporate jobs we never really wanted. We’d spend the next three years being cynical and bitter. We would write emails from corporate America and stay friends for what is going on 13 years now. We see the millennials go through the same buzz-kill only they don’t seem to be able to manage not having gotten their way.
To this day we bantered on and he inserts one liners to make sense out of the world. We discussed how graffiti in the bathroom had approached an all time low due to updated Facebook status and Instagram photos.
Dave still discusses life in years and we aren’t as cynical as we once were. We are often searching for meaning in life through banter. Looking back I now understand that the important part was the friendship. The important parts, the really important ones in life are relationships. They always have been and always will be.
A recent article posted in the Telegraph reports that couples spend about ten days a year arguing about household chores. The article addresses common tiffs such as: leaving clothes around the house, not emptying the dishwasher, putting off home improvements, not taking out the trash, not making the bed, or leaving the toilet seat up.
The article outlines what we argue about and how much we argue, but what about solutions to these disputes?
First, you must know that you are not alone in domestic chore arguments. Second, let’s discuss some alternatives to dealing with the issue, so you can spend less time on edge about you and your partners disagreements.
1. Work a cleaning person into the budget. The arguments stem from everyday upkeep chores. I am not talking about a maid, but a cleaning person; once a week or once every two weeks. The scrubbing and “deep cleaning” will be done by the hired help, but keeping up with the little things, such as taking out the trash or not leaving clothes lying around will take place routinely by the family members. The deep cleaning that takes place inspires family members to keep up with the everyday chores.
2. Change the way you ask your partner to help. Sometimes without being aware of it, we bark orders to our significant other rather than asking them if they could please help. Use “I” statements such as; I could really use your help. Or be encouraging; You are really great at making the bed. Or be thankful; Honey, thank you so much for putting the dishes away.
3. Change the way you react. Honestly, when you move in with your partner, you might have to get used to habits you aren’t happy with; try to find a medium. You should discuss these things prior to cohabiting. (Hint: A good indication of how they will be in a shared habitat is how well they take care of their own apartment, home or even car.)
Overall, these arguments can be reduced. Helping around the house is a learnt behavior just like arguing is also learned. Sometimes all we need to do is be teachable in our relationships to make them work.
Relationships can be understood through stages. Each of these stages may be unique for each couple, but they have common similar themes. The themes and actions in these stage can help us determine if our relationship is just going through a “normal” stage or if something is seriously going wrong. It is normal to have resistance in certain stages.
1. The Honeymoon Stage: This is the infatuation stage. The dopamine in our brain is increased during this time and it is easy for us to ignore all the little things we might not enjoy about someone. We are smitten and determined to make this relationship work.
2. The Toilet Seat Up Stage: This is the stage where reality sets in. The dopamine levels have come back down and we are aware of the little things that we dislike about our partner. The “toilet seat is up” (or anything that bothers us) has become a common theme for arguments. We are easily irritated as we try to get used to someone new.
3. The Suggestion Box Stage: This is the stage in which couples want to put their expectations on one another. They use it less as a suggestion box and more as a way to try to turn the person they met into the person they think they need. Irritation has subsided and we feel comfortable enough to voice our opinion on this person. Voicing our opinion is important, but we must do it in a loving and appropriate manner.
How to Get Through Stages 2 and 3:
- Keep your attitude in check. Don’t let little things bother you. Learn what you will and will not compromise on with this partner.
- Be mindful to include the other partner in your decisions.
- Take time with your friends and time away from your partner.
- Keep your hobbies, so you don’t resent someone else after the honeymoon stage. You are responsible for your actions.
- Communicate with words that will not harm the other person. Try to be calm.
- Be self-reflective during this time, other than finding flaws in others.
4. The Rainbow Stage: This is the stage where you realize that you can not change the other person. When you can learn to let go and just roll with the punches, life will flow as smooth or as rocky as you want to make it. The two middle stages may bring storms and rain, but if you can get through those on an equal playing field you will see the rainbow after the rain.
5. The Never-Ending Stage: This is the last stage in a relationship. It will never end. Relationships that survive trials have two people who are always diligently working at the relationship. You may marry, you may have kids, you may have job loses, moves, careers, and the list goes on and on. Relationships take work and dedication, but you get back as much as you give. Don’t let the rough stages discourage you. A lot of what you feel after the honeymoon stage is normal.
Communication is something that people tend to have a difficult time with in relationships. Not only in our romantic relationships, but at work and school, there are people we tend to get along better with and ones we don’t. The differences in personality and differences in tendencies cause these difficulties. However, in a romantic relationship, your personalities have already found a common ground and that is the easy part. The communication is the part that takes work in order to have a healthy and happy relationship.
Men are typically the “problem solvers” while women are typically the “listeners”. Women have typical complains that men “just don’t listen.” I understand that trying to shift your normal communication tendencies can be difficult, but it will make the relationship more enjoyable for all parties.
What Woman Want:
- To be listened to.
- Someone to provide sympathy or empathy.
- Words of understanding or validation of her feelings.
- Not to be interrupted, or questioned.
Here is a link to a PDF written by Dr. John Gray who wrote Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: http://www.cleargoalscoaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Men-are-from-Mars-and-Women-Venue-1.pdf
Understanding how to communicate better with your partner takes work. If you are too proud or lazy to put in the work, your relationship will suffer. Have an open mind when it comes to improving your relationship. Communication is a skill that can be learned. Learning each other’s tendencies when it comes to communicating can make for a much smoother transition while getting to know one another. We have to make changes when our life is paired up with another’s life. There is no room for being stubborn in these instances. This is an easy fix if each party can learn to speak the other’s communication language.
The word chivalry comes from the demeanor of knights in the middle ages; the nobel knights had courage and honor. Today we understand chivalry as the acts of men when taking care of a lady. Men, we appreciate these acts.
There is a disconnect today with how to treat a lady. Check out this list to get the low down on these high-class chivalrous acts:
- Open or hold doors
- Pay the bill
- Carry the luggage
- Scrape off the car windows in the winter
- Offer your jacket when she is cold
- Stand up when a woman arrives at or leaves the table
- Pull the car around for her
- Walk on the sidewalk closest to the street
- Pull out her chair
Ladies, don’t settle for a man that isn’t a gentleman or doesn’t do his best to attempt to be. Make sure you do your part by being thankful and polite in equally acceptable ways.
Some recent articles have dismissed the ideas that monogamy is still good and possible. It is a good tradition, but also the possibility of it working lies strongly within the individuals in the relationship.
This practice is what sets humans apart from other animal species. As April Beyer points out, traditions are traditions because they work. Although animals can differ in their mating practices, nearly 90 percent of animals practice socially monogamy. This means that they live and practice a “family” life with two “adults” in a single living arrangement.
Mating systems used to be different, where as behavior was engaged in simply to stimulate reproductive success. Today the idea of monogamy is not only social acceptable but a successful marriage depends heavily on it. Some people qualify monogamy as a part of love that embodies certain moral and ethical practices. Whatever your reasoning is for considering monogamy to be an outdated tradition, I simply ask you to consult all the numerous books, articles, traditions, values, and reliable information on how monogamy is important in our culture.
Monogamy should not only be something we approach, but something we value and respect.