If you’re in a good relationship, you probably tell yourself, “Things are going great. OK, sometimes we argue, who doesn’t? No need to complicate things. Just enjoy and get on with it.” If you then ask couples with serious relationship issues, they would say, “I remember I once thought exactly like that, if only I wasn’t complacent.…”
You may also be saying, “This won’t happen to us; we regularly check on our relationship, and I know it’s going great.” But are you using the right gauges? The majority of advice out there tells us that if we want to see how well we’re doing, we should measure things such as mutual respect, compromise, dependability, and caring interaction. But aren’t these also the gauges for work colleagues, neighbors, and not so close friends? What about play, laughter, mischief, and freedom of uncensored honest expression? Aren’t they far more telling gauges? If we think about it, these are the very gauges we use to measure close friendships.
Christmas is a time of play, a time to reconnect with your childish side. As a gift to your relationship, why not gauge the play in it, and see if it’s still as it was or is it getting less? Here are some useful gauges to do just that:
What nicknames do you have for each other? Are they generic ones like ‘sweetie’ or ‘darling’? If so, slap yourself immediately. Why are you being a sheep? What is your best friend’s nickname? Is it something pathetically generic or is it something unique to you two that brings a smile to both of you? The latter indicates that you have opened a window into each other’s minds and you both loved what you found. ‘Darling’ means you are ticking society-sponsored boxes just to get on with it. Give each other nicknames that make you smile.
2. Speak the bubble.
Bubbledom is the act of speaking the actual thought in the bubble above your head. Editing thought is for the others, not your life partner. For you to continue to be happy lovers, parents, grandparents and beyond, you need to know that you are loved for who you truly are and what you really think. Always speak the bubble.
3. Share your naughty past.
Your naughty secrets say far more about who you truly are than all your good deeds. If you’re in the company of your partner and some friends and your friends know more about your naughty past than your partner, it means your partner is not a close friend. This will slowly but surely erode your love. Revealing everything brings you two much closer and makes you relax if you see each other’s pasts as a nonthreatening playful part of each other. It also gives you the opportunity to show that this disclosure does not change who you are and why you love each other.
4. Swap mobile phones.
Can you swap phones for a week? Don’t give a coward’s answer by saying it’s impractical. You know what I metaphorically mean. Are you ok with your partner receiving a copy of all your emails, texts, social media, and telephone calls for a whole week? If you feel that you need to keep certain things from your partner, you have issues, which may very well surface in the future. Transparency invigorates the fun aspect of your friendship. It frees the brain to play games rather than worry about editing your life to minimising friction. The vast majority of what you want to hide will be innocent, a friend’s crude joke, an ex’s birthday wish, an in-law’s negative comment; no matter what it is, your bond is strengthened when you reveal it, and it is weakened when you don’t.
5. Rate your laughter.
If you make a list of people with whom you genuinely laugh, where would your partner be? If it’s not first or second, find out why. You both have a sense of humor, but for some reason, you don’t use it with each other. Tell each other what you found funny with Jane or Mike or Sylvester and ask why is this not funny to your partner; you may be pleasantly surprised. Never designate laughter as something to do with others. This is extremely dangerous. You owe it to yourselves and your present or future children to build a home full of laughter and childlike playfulness. Not a home run by two edited versions of yourselves, or worse, a home run by one trouser wearing partner and a weakling for a sidekick.
6. PM or PM.
Does your partnerships make you spend more time Pain Minimising or Pleasure Maximising? If a friend offers you tickets to something you really want to see, do you think, “I hope I can go if I haven’t been dragged into doing some chore or some boring social thing.” Or do you think, “Yippeeeee, I’m going to a concert. I wonder if my partner can make it, too?” Do so much more of the latter.
7. Conquer your sexual watchdog.
Do you reveal all your fantasies to each other? If not, what are you waiting for? This will also lead to maximising your pleasure and building a unique bond based on fun experiences. It doesn’t matter what your thing is, whether you want to watch adult films, go to adult clubs, play with food or costumes, experiment with others, or go to a pub and pretend to be single to see who gets more phone numbers. Suggest it, try it, and get rid of the archaic dogmas that tell us it’s ok to do such things with friends but not with partners.
8. Never look at the Joneses.
What’s the point of comparing yourselves to George and Mildred? You are neither George nor Mildred; you haven’t had their past, and you don’t have their present. Comparing to others is basically saying, “I don’t love you, but I’m stuck with you, and I’m not going to do anything about it other than criticise you.” This is pointless and cruel. The only comparing you should do is how you two are now compared to before. Is it better or worse in terms of fun, laughter, and pride in being each other’s? If it’s worse, find out why by using Bubbledom, not by looking at George and Mildred.
9. Overcome the money thing.
If the bread is being won unequally, it is on both your minds; there is no point in denying it. Assuming it’s not causing any feelings of guilt or resentment is a sure recipe for killing the fun and passion that brought you two together. Ask and discuss honestly, with … yes, you’ve guessed it … Bubbledom.
10. Ask yourself: Is my heart as committed as I am?
This is the most important question you should ask yourself: “Even though, on the outside, I play the part of a happily committed partner, does my heart really feel that way?” To find out, imagine this scenario. Let’s say you meet a stranger of the preferred sex, and you two click immediately. You then spend the next two hours chatting away, and by the time you say goodbye, you conclude that it was a real pleasure meeting this person. Do you:
- Never tell your partner this happened because you feel it may cause unnecessary issues?
- Tell your partner in case you were spotted but perhaps without fully disclosing how much fun you had?
- Tell your partner that you met this person, you really had fun, and you’re sure your partner will, too, which is why you asked your newfound friend to join you and your partner for dinner this Friday?
If the answer is not (c), ask why. The world and all that’s in it must be seen as nothing more than stage props in your play with you two playing the leading parts.
I hope the above leads to you having the most wonderful Christmas where you manage to take your love to a new level of fun that most think of as unrealistic.