Steve is feeling the chirpy-birdy, sunshiny effects of Springtime in Boston. Here’s his wake up call to all of us: communication is not a competitive sport.
Have your love, your lust, your crazed, Cirque du Soleil sex. Enjoy your puppy dogs and rainbows, this-person-is-perfect-for-me, Teenage Dream early days of a relationship. Treasure the weeks and months you will likely never get again– not because of cynicism, but because you simply can only have the joy of discovering someone once. After that, what you need is communication.
Want a great relationship? Communicate.
Want a divorce? Don’t.
It’s almost as simple as that. The communication needs to be respectful, which is equally obvious as it is difficult. But when you hear shit you don’t like, the healthy couple response is “I’m sorry you feel that way– let’s talk it through.” The guaranteed divorce response is “You shouldn’t feel that way… oh, and screw you.”
“All You Need is Love?” Due respect to Messrs. Lennon and McCartney, it’s not so. But “All You Need is Healthy, Respectful Dialogue” wouldn’t have been a good hippie mantra and would have been harder to sway to.
We communicate so poorly when we’re trying to win the argument. But in our competitive world, this the one time we should be aiming for a tie game. (Apart from soccer and don’t get me started there.) Communication, done properly, is a mutual win. But that’s marriage counsel-y stuff, and I don’t have the right feel good degree to help with that. (See: every other post of mine.)
Here’s what I do know. When you cut someone off in traffic, they’ll give you the finger. When you brush shoulders on the sidewalk, you’ll say “I’m sorry” and they’ll say “No problem.” Internet and TV arguments work the same way. It’s what Roger Waters called “The Bravery of Being Out of Range.” But in our closest, most intimate, important relationships, we can get out of range right there at the kitchen table.
(Incidentally, I respond to all rotary enraged bird-flipping by blowing kisses. Smootches, jerkface!)
I really have no other relationship insight. Oh—wait. One more: double sinks. When you’re buying a place, be sure the master bath has double sinks. You have to trust me on this one. Double sinks will make you a nicer person. You won’t fight over toothpaste, how she takes too long, how he leaves his shavings, why there are eleven different bottles of hair goop– double sinks win. In the space of one morning, this means four fewer arguments in tight spaces.
So in the Springtime of the relationship, enjoy the circus sex, the romance, and the googly-eyed sink sharing and synced swaying. That’s what the Beatles were crooning about. But we need to communicate less like Boston drivers to keep things humming. We need to continue the conversation… sidewalk style.