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always keep a bottle of vodka
and a first aid kit handy.
I have been in the same relationship since I was 19. I won’t tell you exactly how many years ago that was, because I refuse to admit my age in a public forum. Let’s just say when we met, he gave me his beeper number and I used to use a pay phone at our favorite spot to page him.
Needless to say, we’ve been together for a really long time, and in that time I’ve learned some really valuable lessons about what it means to spend your entire life with another person. Some of it we learned the hard way, some we are still learning, and some of it was through advice imparted by a dear friend: Whatever happens, always keep a bottle of vodka and a first aid kit handy.
All of this experience may not make me a relationship advice expert, but I have gained a little bit of wisdom that I think is crucial. Here is my relationship advice from a non professional, but so-far-successful perspective.
1. Laughter is always the best medicine. Laugh until you cry then laugh some more. Never belittle each other’s humor. I love fart jokes and he likes to pretend to eat my brains like he’s a zombie. My wedding vows included a stipulation about tickle fights and late night giggle fits. Always appreciate and encourage each other’s humor. It’s what will keep you afloat during times of tragedy and major life transitions.
2. Stop playing the blame game. Most people hate hearing something is their fault. We often refuse to admit we have ever done anything wrong in our relationship. It’s always the other’s fault for not being affectionate enough, not putting their socks in the hamper, or not being psychic enough to know precisely what pissed you off. I’m not going to win any popularity contests with this, but get over it. You can’t blame your spouse for the faults in your relationship as long as you do things like leave used Q-tips on the sink, hair in the drain, and hold out on intimacy. Be open to the idea that you aren’t the only person in the relationship and don’t take offense when your significant other points out that your bad habits irk them. Do your best to notice when they’ve made an effort to curb their annoying tendencies and say thank you. Gratitude will always go farther than guilt trips.
3. Once it’s been said, it can’t be un-said. My husband told me early on in our relationship that angry threats would be treated as passionate commitment. If I threatened to leave him in the heat of an argument, I had better be prepared for one or the other of us to pack their shit and get out, because if I said it, on some level I must have meant it. All of those things you think you are saying to just make your partner feel bad so you can win the argument, are actually planting little seeds of doubt as to how serious you are about your relationship.
4. Relationships are never 50/50. Sometimes they are 60/40, 80/20, occasionally even 45/55. We always feel like we are doing the most work because we only see the relationship from our own perspective. I say “I do the dishes, I make sure the bills are paid, the laundry done, the groceries bought! You come home and play video games and drink beer!” He says “I spent all day outside in miserable weather, I fixed the kitchen sink, washed the dogs and changed the filters in the air conditioner!” What makes a relationship work is that two people bring completely different skills to the table. I’m great at balancing budgets, he’s great at fixing the dish washer when it floods the kitchen. If you need help from your partner, ask. If you feel like your responsibilities in the relationship are too much to handle, ask your partner if they can pick up some of your slack. Just keep in mind they might pull the Don Corleone card and say, “Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me.”
5. Intellectual discourse is the first foreplay. There is nothing sexier than independent thought. It’s imperative you have the ability to carry on a conversation, express your own opinions, and maintain some sort of erudite integrity. Your looks will fade, sex will wax and wane, but if your partner isn’t one of your best friends, there’s a good possibility your relationships is just sex and small talk.
6. If all else fails, crack open the bottle of vodka. You will fight. You will argue, scream, shout, throw things, and possibly wake the neighbors in the middle of the night. When you’ve exhausted yourself shouting through the lists of faults the other has, your face is puffy and your voice is lost from crying and screaming through tears, and your head is pounding from the frustration of co-existing full time with another human being, open the bottle of vodka. There’s a good possibility one of two things will happen: You’ll either get drunk, have make-up sex and pass out, or you’ll get belligerent, surly and keep going, in which case that first aid kit will come in handy when you slice your foot open on the glass from the photo frame you threw at your spouses head (and hopefully missed, if not, cheers to a first aid kit).
Relationships are hard. They are absolutely worth it, but you have to put the work in.