For my American audience (but the post will also intrigue my international readers), this blog reminds me of one of my favorite episodes of the Ray Romano hit show, Everybody Loves Raymond. Ray and Deborah go on a vacation. When they return, Ray leaves the suitcase at the base of the stairs. He clearly anticipates that Deborah, his wife, when cleaning, will take it upstairs. She, on the other hand, looks at it as Ray being lazy. After a few days of them both looking at it (passive aggressively) and daring the other to take it up, Ray finds the biggest, stinkiest piece of blue cheese he can find and stuffs it in the suitcase thinking Deborah will smell it and take the case upstairs. Instead she takes out the cheese and leaves the case as is. They end up having Marie (the worst mother in law in TV history) tell them a story about the big spoon and fork (long story) and Ray and Deborah then fight over who will take the suitcase upstairs. Whew! But there is a moral to this story oh gentle readers. Let’s see if this segue works: It’s this. If you put your mate’s needs first, it will not only make you happier but it will also make your mate happier. Read more…
If Deborah and Ray had practiced “compassionate” love, they both would have managed the suitcase situation in a different manner.”Compassionate” love, as described by an article in the Wall Street Journal, is when you recognize a partner’s needs and concerns and put them ahead of your own.(Why the heck would I do that, I query, at this point in the article). A researcher, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, did a study of 175 newlyweds and asked them how they showed their spouse’s compassion. (Well, right there is the problem. He asked newlyweds). He found that couples who regularly showed their spouses this kind of love are happier in their marriages. You know. I can see that. When small selfless acts of kindness and care giving disappear, the marriage can be in trouble. We get busy and stressed. We take each other for granted. It isn’t easy to stifle our own agenda and put our partner’s first. What am I talking about? For example, me and my spouse. A few years ago I was dying to go to French Polynesia. I’m a big fan of explorer books and particularly Captain Cook and the Mutiny on the Bounty. I had tried for years to get my hubby to go. I finally said to him, look, it’s someplace I’m dying to go to. It’s only 8 days on a cruise line that you love (Windstar). Can you just put this in your pocket and let’s go? He put it in his pocket and we went. I had a wonderful time, was in 7th heaven sailing into Cook’s Bay and seeing the famous Papeete. He, on the other hand, DID have an experience of a lifetime, snorkeling alongside a mother humpback whale with her offspring. Would he do it again? NO. But neither would I. Trust me. Whenever he wants me to do something or go somewhere, my response is, if it’s something you want to do, then we’ll do it. Now, like Christian and Ana, we haven’t found any “red” lines, yet. I was telling the French Polynesia story to a good friend of mine and she said that she didn’t want to be forced to go somewhere that she don’t want to go to. I told her that I had asked my husband, do you really want to keep me from going somewhere I’ve always longed to go to simply because, you don’t want to? When I explained it that way, she understood a little better. Now, even though she has nothing to do with golf, whenever her husband asks her to go to a golf outing soiree, she goes because she knows it pleases him. Ahhhh, compassionate love.
10 Marriage Sweeteners
- Put your partner’s goals first. Giving your husband the last cupcake is easy. Spending your vacation—again—with his family is hard.
- Try to understand your partner’s thoughts and feelings. Not sure what’s going on? Ask.
- Accept, don’t judge. Don’t like your spouse’s relatives, or his taste in clothes or TV shows? Zip it.
- Be open to your partner’s requests. Everyone is busy. If your spouse asks for something, assume it’s important.
- Modify your plans for your spouse’s sake. Does she need a night off from parenting, or a few hours to finish a work project? Accommodate and earn relationship goodwill.
- Do something special for your partner. Flowers are nice, but so is making the bed or giving a massage.
- Express tenderness and caring. Not everyone likes public displays of affection. But you can make a nice cup of tea.
- Go out of your way to ‘be there.’ Pay attention when your partner seems particularly stressed and try to help.
- Show respect and admiration. Celebrate successes, even little ones. Did your spouse handle a touchy situation well, or make you laugh? Point it out.
- Show you value your partner. Two words: Thank you