Secrets of a Great Relationship
I'm very lucky; @evan is an incredible partner and we have a wonderful life together. But it's true what they say: relationships are hard work. These are some things I've learned about the art of being (and staying) in love for the long haul.
- •Create little rituals togetherEvery morning, Evan wakes me up by bringing me a cup of coffee in bed. I regularly buy him funky socks and stick them in his backpack when he's not looking. Every night before putting The Sopranos on, he asks me if I want to see "what Tony and the gang are up to?" (previously: "Don and the gang," and "Piper and the gang"). These rituals are fun and sweet, but they're also a shortcut to intimacy. They serve to quickly and pleasantly pull us into the special world we've created together.
- •Don't go to bed angryThere are conflicting perspectives on this, but in my experience, it's better to stay up and figure it out, or at least get your conflict to a place where you're not still fiery and mad, and agree to put it to bed until the next day.
- •Accept one another, differences and allIn early love, it's natural to want to discover and celebrate all the ways you're similar. But as time goes on, you inevitably learn the many ways you are different. For a relationship to work, it's important to be able to not only respect one another, but accept each other completely, just as you are. This one is harder to do than it might sound.
- •Go on datesMy idea of a great Saturday night is cooking dinner and then climbing into bed early with Evan (and sometimes Tony, Don, or Piper from item #1). But at least a couple times a month, we override the desire to be lazy, get dressed up, and go on a proper date. And every time we do, I'm glad for it.
- •Get to know each other's familiesNot only is it an important step in building a long-term relationship, it's also the best way to understand why someone is the way he or she is. And understanding fosters acceptance.
- •Enjoy parallel play(I bet you thought this one was going to be sexual, you perv!) It took me a while to learn that it's not necessary to interact constantly when you're in the same space. But now I love hanging out in the same room, or in separate but adjacent rooms, working on our respective creative projects, reading, or watching TV. It's a way to feel connected while getting to have our own space.
- •Learn to say, "no thanks, but you go ahead!" and mean itEvan loves drum circles. I, on the other hand, thought they were annoying in college, and have even less tolerance for them now. So when we walk by Dolores Park, and he hears the "pa-rum-pum-pum-pum" of an off-season Burning Man crew getting their percussion on, and feels the pull to go check it out, I have learned to lovingly, genuinely wish him a great time and tell him I'll see him at home. It's better for both of us this way.
- •Maintain deep, separate friendships with other peopleWe should all strive to find partners who fulfill as many of our needs as possible, but it's just impossible to find someone who can meet ALL of them. Good friends help balance you and make you an even better partner to the one you love.
- •Learn to tell the difference between egregious behavior and a misunderstandingNearly every time, I find that one or both of us has simply misunderstood a situation, and that no actual foul play has occurred. Getting on the same page as quickly as possible is easier and less painful than hashing out an actual misdeed.
- •Know your skill setSure, I COULD fix the kitchen drawer, but Evan is actually good at it, so life is better when he's in charge of that stuff. Likewise, Evan COULD cook dinner, but we'd both rather eat dinner made by me.