One writer’s guide to a happy and successful relationship and life

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 at 5:30 PM

Now, this will not be one of those articles where I point out all that you’re doing wrong. Instead, these will be more like touchstones to clue you in as to whether or not you are on the right path. I should let you know my credentials to give such sage advice. I have been married to my second wife Nicole for 17 years. Our relationship has survived three kids, a deployment to Iraq, elongated stays in hospitals, and many deaths in our families and extended families. With all that in mind, let’s begin, shall we?

1. Being in a relationship is like being lost in the woods. 

There is no one clear path that will get you and your partner through. What may work for some couples, may not work for you. Times are different from when your parents were your age. So, the first big roadblock you must avoid is judging your relationship by other people’s standards. 

My wife and I have very different roles as opposed to most couples our age. I may be “the breadwinner,” but she manages all the money. I like to joke that I get an allowance. She has a degree in small business management, and I still can’t pass Math 104 after four years of attending Edinboro — so her controlling the money is smart for us. I do a lot of the cooking at home while she maintains the vehicles. Again, not traditional, but it works for us. Other people do not have to pay your bills, nor do you have to pay theirs. Don’t let how they conduct business affect you.

2. Do not confuse sexual chemistry for love. That is lust, sweetie, and it will not get you through the rough times. 

Being physical with someone and having great sex is nice and all, but the question remains — can you still talk to that person? Being in a great relationship is about being open and honest with each other. 

My dad gave me great advice when I was just 16. He said: “Tubby, when you get serious with a woman (which you will do soon) — after a great night out and when you are both dolled up to the 9s, wake up, wake her up, both of you throw on some sweatpants and sweatshirts. Do not get fixed up or comb your hair, and don’t let her do it either. Yes, she will protest, but just insist. Then take her out to breakfast somewhere, and as you both drink your morning coffee, look at her and ask yourself, ‘is she still as beautiful as the night before?’ If the answer is yes, then you know you have found the one.”

3. Does this person make you want to do the little things? 

When you know it’s her turn to do the dishes, but she’s had a hard day at work because her boss is a jerk and she has a term paper due, grab the dishes for her. If you are away from each other because of a business trip or a family thing she could not attend, buy her something small that says, “Hey, I was thinking of you.” Pick up some flowers just because, not because it’s Valentine’s Day (or Sweetest Day for you Ohioans). Send them a text just to say, “I know you’re busy, but I was thinking about you.” The little things go a long way. 

4. When something happens in your life, is this the first person you want to tell? 

You did really well on a test or a project, and all you want to do is share that news with that person. If it’s not real until you have told your partner, then perhaps you have found the one. If this person drives you to be the very best version of yourself that you can be, and all you want is for them to be their very best, then you may have found the one. If you have a true partnership, where you feel like together you can do almost anything, then that person is probably the one.

5. Relationships are not always a bed of roses. 

It’s not always smooth sailing and picturesque sunsets. Sometimes it’s rocky and it’s knock-down, drag-out fights (arguments, not fist fights; if there ever is violence — run — do not walk from this relationship, and get out as fast as you can). In a world of disposable, one-use items and instant gratification, understand a relationship is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Sometimes you must have these arguments. It is okay to not like your partner sometimes. It is okay to be mad at your partner. You can still love them and be mad at them. 

My uncle CJ gave me great advice on my wedding day. He said: “Tubby, never ever go to bed angry. Talk it out and keep talking until it is resolved, no matter what that resolution may be…just keep talking.” That really does work. 

There have been times where I have walked away to calm down before I said something I really didn’t mean, but that’s anger. I always returned, and my wife and I always talked it out. At some point in your relationship, you will come to a point where the argument is so large you can’t see a way out of it. That’s when you need to have the “how bad do you want it” talk. Are we actually better together, or are we just better on our own? What are we willing to do about it?

I hope this helps some of you as you navigate this great adventure called life. Just remember in the end to have fun with your partner. Live, laugh, share and enjoy each other as much as possible. 

Last bit of advice: do not be in a hurry to grow up. Enjoy yourself, learn to love and respect yourself, and soon enough others will too. That’s most likely when you will find that person…usually when you have given up looking. 

George Schmidt can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com. 

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