Deposit Some Love Currency Into Your Relationship Account

I once read an article about how you could compare a relationship to a bank account.  Every single kiss, hug, and show of affection or attention can be considered a deposit of love currency into the relationship account.  Every single fight, unkind word or lack of appropriate attention and affection can be considered a withdrawal of love currency from the relationship account.  As long as a positive balance remains in the account, your relationship is successful (the higher the balance, the more successful).  If the balance goes to zero or enters negative territory, your relationship is in trouble.  Keep in mind that it takes multiple deposits to offset just one withdrawal. By that I mean that it takes lots of kisses and lots of hugs and lots of attention to overcome just one ugly word spoken in anger.

When in a committed relationship, it can be a challenge to actively show attention and affection on a daily basis.  It is so easy to take each other for granted. We let our busy lives get in the way of nurturing our important relationships.  Raising children, building a career, and maintaining friendships outside the primary relationship can take time and attention away from a marriage or partnership.  Then when something horrific happens, like the explosions in Boston, we realize the importance of our relationships and we take the time to express love and appreciation.  We take the time to make a few deposits into the relationship account.  Perhaps we should all think about making more deposits and fewer withdrawals.

What many fail to realize is that making deposits into a relationship account can take only seconds of your time. It doesn’t require spending a lot of money or taking hours of time.  It doesn’t have to be candy or flowers or cooking an elaborate meal.  It is those little things you can do to show your partner that you are thinking of him or her.  For example, think about putting a sticky pad in the bathroom drawer. In the morning take a blank note from the pad, write “I love you”, and stick it on the bathroom mirror where your partner will see it.  If your partner is having to put in long hours at work due to a special project, then complete one of his or her household chores and let it be a surprise.  Plan a picnic in the backyard on a pretty summer night.  Plan an activity that you know your partner will enjoy, even if it is something you don’t particularly love.  If you are always the one who picks the date night activity, let your partner do it.  No date night in your schedule you say?  Then plan one!

If you start taking a little time out each day to think about your partner, something amazing will happen.  You will find that making those love deposits will cause you to love your partner more.  It will keep the love you feel alive and will keep you from taking your relationship for granted.

It is important that you perform your acts of kindness with a generous spirit.  Don’t attach “strings” that require your partner to reciprocate.  Don’t put unsaid expectations in place and then be angry with your partner when he does not meet your expectations.  Let the joy of bringing happiness to your partner be your only reward.

If you are in a long-term relationship, you may be facing some bitterness and resentment.  Perhaps you feel that your partner is not holding up his or her end of the bargain.  You may be reading this and saying, “I am already doing everything to keep this relationship together, now you want me to do something else!”  I understand that sentiment and I have been there myself.  My only suggestion is to give it a try.  You may find that doing something thoughtful for your partner may help change a cycle of resentment.  You may find that your partner responds with a thoughtful gesture.  Perhaps together, you both can change your dance of bitterness to a dance of thoughtfulness.  Worse case scenario, you will have done something kind for someone you love and that can never be a bad thing.

The other side to the relationship account is making fewer withdrawals. If you are someone who thinks it is okay to yell and call ugly names, please understand how that kind of behavior depletes the relationship account.  There are disagreements in every relationship, but it is never okay to yell, scream, throw things or use physical violence.  Get some help from a professional if you need help controlling your anger and your behavior.

Lots of people say that they want their relationship to be 50-50.  May I suggest every relationship should be 100-100.  If both people in the relationship are trying to do things for each other, your relationship account will overflow with the currency of love.

 

 

 

Is It Okay To Say “Mind Your Own Business?”

I have been thinking of several weeks about personal boundaries……not the fence kind……the relationship kind.  I believe that setting appropriate personal boundaries for yourself, as well as respecting the personal boundaries of others, is one of the most important things you can do to maintain successful relationships.  So, if someone is crossing one of your personal boundaries, is it okay to say “Mind Your Own Business?”  While there may be a kinder way to express that sentiment, I believe you owe it to yourself to be able to honor your own personal boundaries as well as the boundaries of others.

Every time I started to this post, I struggled with trying to explain boundaries in a way that everyone could understand.  For those who understand the concept, no explanation is needed.  For those who don’t seem to understand the concept, how can it be explained in an understandable way?

Here is the definition of personal boundaries from Wikipedia:

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits.] They are built out of a mix of beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning.

I believe that, as adults, there are certain areas of our lives where we have absolute control.  These areas include things like the following: home, career, children, and finances.  Obviously if you are married, these decisions will be made together as a couple.  If you are single, these areas are yours to control as well as decisions about dating and relationships.  For some reason, there are people who believe that, as a friend, they should have some input into those decisions. No only do some friends and dating partners believe they should have some input into the decision making process, they actually believe their opinion should be followed.  I call this the “as a friend” syndrome.

I know that if a friend of mine starts out a sentence by saying “as a friend, I have something to tell you”, this means that I am about to get some advice that I have not asked for.  I don’t mind that so much.  I realize that my friend or dating partner is showing care and concern for me by taking the time to give their opinion.  I appreciate the concern and give respect by listening with an open mind.  Usually, I have already weighed the pros and cons of my decision and have already considered the issues being presented.  Even so, I listen with respect and say thank you for the input.  When it is all said and done, I make the decision I want to make and it is usually the one I was going to make anyway.  No problem so far.  The problem starts when the person giving the advice becomes angry with me for not following their advice.  This is where a boundary is crossed and it might be time to say “Mind your own business.”  My mother used to say “He or she is not paying my bills!”  That was my mother’s way to saying that, as long as she is handling her own business, no one else gets to make her decisions for her.

When it comes to the “as a friend” syndrome, we need to make sure we are not inviting it by constantly asking for advice.  If you spend hours of someone’s time asking for advice, but ultimately always ignore it, then you have crossed the boundary, not the person giving advice.  An example of this is someone who constantly calls friends to complain about a husband, boyfriend or any troublesome relationship.  If you are calling your friends night after night about the same relationship issues, but you never do anything to improve the situation, your friends are going to get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again.  You are crossing the boundary by not being respectful of their time.

It puts stress on a relationship when one person either doesn’t recognize boundaries, or just ignores them.  It is important to be able to communicate your boundaries to others.  It is just as important to respect the boundaries of others.

My mother taught me that people do what they want to do. She also taught me that people live the lives that they want to live.  You can give all the advice in the world and it isn’t going to make any difference at all.  I think boundaries mean that you get to live your life as you see fit and I get to live my life as I see fit.  I don’t have to agree with your choices and you don’t have to agree with my choices, but I do need to mind my own business and I prefer that others do the same.

There is one exception to minding your own business.  If you know someone being affected by domestic violence, please speak up.  If you can, offer your help and support.  The truth is that you can not make the person leave the situation, all you can do is offer your support.  Make sure your loved one knows that she has a safe place waiting for her.

Grace

 

 

 

If He Loved Me He Would……

Many of the late night calls I have received start out with the words, “If he really loved me he would……”   This is usually followed by lots of tears as my friend explains how her partner has hurt her because he did not do or say something that she thought he should know to do or say.

There is a movie called “The Break-Up” where Jennifer Aniston’s character says, “I want you to want to do the dishes.”  She thinks that her boyfriend should read her mind and know that she wants help in the kitchen, even if she does not tell him.  Vince Vaughn’s character finds this incomprehensible.  He doesn’t understand why the dishes can’t wait until tomorrow after they have both had a good night’s sleep.  Not leaving dirty dishes in the sink is important to Jennifer’s character, but not to Vince’s.   As women, we must accept that men simply do not know the things that we think should be common knowledge. They don’t place the same level of importance on the things that we find extremely important.  We must be willing to communicate the things we need out of our relationships.  We must stop being hurt just because our partners don’t know how much it hurts us when they don’t meet our (unsaid) expectations.

When a friend calls me late at night to cry about something that her man has left undone or unsaid, I always say, “Why don’t you just tell him what you need?”  The answer usually is, “If he loved me he would know and I wouldn’t have to tell him.”  It’s almost like the guy must pass some test in order to prove he loves his partner.

When you enter into a relationship with someone, that person had a lifetime full of experiences before meeting you.  There were lessons he learned in his own family unit which may or may not work well in his adult life.  He has formed his own expectations as to what he expects out of a relationship and his expectations may be very different from yours.  He may have been raised in a house where messiness was the rule or where there wasn’t much physical affection displayed.  You, on the other hand, may want your house to be spotless or you may need lots of physical affection.  I believe these differences can be worked out with a lot of honest communication, but they can derail a relationship if everyone remains silent on what they need out of the relationship.

One of the biggest issues I hear about on those late night calls is housework and childcare.  This whole idea that if he loves you, he will want to help you, can ultimately destroy what could be a good relationship.  I know women who suffer in silence while they work a job outside the home and then come home to cook, clean house, do the laundry, run the errands, and care for the children, all without much help from their partner. Over years, the bitterness and resentment build and the relationship erodes.   If you are thinking about a long-term relationship with someone, you must communicate your expectations.  He may have been raised in a traditional home and expect that you will play the same role in your home as his mother played in his childhood home.

Another big issue I see has to do with physical affection:  holding hands, cuddling, sitting close to one another.  Some women think that love means affection.  If the guy isn’t affectionate, this can be interpreted as a lack of love when that may not be the case at all.  Some people are not affectionate by nature and would have a very hard time changing that aspect of their personality, even if they wanted to.  If you are someone who needs lots of affection and you find yourself in a relationship with someone not affectionate, this does not mean he does not love or care for you.  You have to decide if you can accept him the way he is and believe that lack of affection does not necessarily mean lack of love.

The next time you find yourself saying “if he loved me he would…..”, stop and ask yourself if you have told your partner what you need.  If you haven’t, then it may be time for the two of you to sit down and have an honest conversation about both of your expectations.

Grace

Guest Blog: Can Drugs Fit Into A Relationship

Have you ever dated someone that you really enjoyed the company of, had insane attraction to and great compatibility but later found out they had some dark secrets? Well I have, and it really confused me. I absolutely was head over heels with a guy I had met at the gym. He seemed to possess all the qualities I wanted, funny, good-looking, successful, loved to exercise and polite. We went on a couple dates and got along great. Conversation lasted for hours, he had a creative side like me and was just a great catch. For the first time in my dating world I saw potential in someone and it was quite exciting.

It wasn’t until one evening about a month in that I finally visited his cozy apartment. As I walked in I immediately recognized a light skunk odor. I had lived in a college dorm for 4 years and I knew that it was marijuana. As we walked into the living room, there was a massive bong laying in front of me on the table. Mr. Wonderful walked over, flicked his lighter and asked me if I wanted a hit. I politely declined as he indulged about 3 times.

As he took his third hit, my mind began racing, “Really!!? We never talked about this! I never would have thought! What am I doing here!??” I didn’t have the guts to tell him I really did not like drugs or further more anything to do with them. My friends in their own right smoke pot, but it was never something I wanted to engage in. I always had the mentality to each their own and my friends smoking is one thing, but dating and possibly marrying someone with the habit is completely different. I always viewed it as immature or dangerous, even though I know that marijuana is all natural. I never wanted to risk my job either with the possibility of failing a drug test. I just never imagined this lovely, smart guy in front of me smoking weed!

As we headed out the door to a movie, I wondered to myself if he was always high on our dates. Why would he choose to show me now, or maybe he thought that I would not mind. But I did, I don’t know why I just couldn’t shake the feeling. Over the next few days I had stopped taking his calls and was full out ignoring him. I know that I couldn’t do this forever, without at least giving him a reason and decided to meet with him for a drink on Friday.

As I was on my way to the date, I was angry and felt deceived by him, I knew I had to confront him and tell him how I felt. I was so nervous. As he sat down, he already knew what I was going to say. “So, this is about the pot, huh?” he muttered. “Yes” I nervously replied, “I’m sorry, I really like you but…I really don’t want that in my life……” Before I even got the words my life out, he was going into this story.

“I don’t think you realize that occasionally smoking pot for me is like, drinking a glass of wine.” He paused and took a deep breath. “It relaxes me after a long day and takes the edge off. I’ve never been high on one of our dates besides the other night. I don’t go to work high, I don’t smoke in the morning, I don’t find myself sneaking off to smoke a bowl. I feel in full control, it’s just something I do, my personal choice, much like drinking is for you. I kind of thought you were into it since we’ve been hanging out or that you wouldn’t mind. I apologize for not telling you earlier, but I didn’t know that you were so against it. I will be disappointed if you don’t want to see me anymore, but I understand.”

I sat in disbelief throughout the entire conversation. He definitely put me in my place. I never answered his question and we left after 2 drinks, our conversation continued as usual. I felt judgmental and wrong for feeling the way I did. I know he wasn’t trying to make me feel bad but I did.

After another month of dating, we ended things, not because of the pot, I actually learned to deal with it in a better way and I realized he wasn’t controlled by the drug he was making a choice. The relationship was a great learning tool for me in the future. I needed to be more understanding, patient, and less judgmental. As I reflect back on this relationship I turn to you all reading this. Have you ever been in this sort of relationship or situation? Would you have handled it differently? Do you think drugs can fit into a healthy relationship or marriage? I welcome your thoughts!

About the Guest Author:  Melissa currently writes for Saint Jude Retreats, which is an alternative to traditional rehab. As well as writing for St. Jude’s, Melissa enjoys writing about topics that include health and relationships.