Monday, October 22, 2012

Love Lives: Taking the Next Step

I am lucky enough to have been in a committed and loving relationship for almost ten years now. Throughout this relationship we both have gone through many ups and downs, most of which have allowed us to grow as individuals and as a couple. Because I experienced much of what my friends went through years prior, I am always honored when they come to me for an outside perspective. But, I guess as one of the “grandmas” of my group of girlfriends, I am a good sounding board and offer advice that they can relate to.

So, what do you do when you are ready to take the relationship to the next level (being exclusive, moving in or the great American ring hunt)? Well, the first thing I tell everyone is that you have to be honest, with yourself and the one with whom you are involved. I always start with the personal reflection. What is it I want? Why do I want this? What do I feel will change if I have this? Do I feel this way for the right reasons or because of an external source? Once you have identified what you want and why you want that, you are better able to communicate with your partner, and let’s be honest, if you can’t communicate effectively; you are in for a reeeaaallllyyyy tough time.

Once you are ready to take this communication transaction on in full force, you can prepare for the “talk”. I suggest prepping your partner for this conversation beforehand so they can process, mentally prepare and not feel caught off guard. For example, “I was hoping we could talk over dinner on Friday if you don’t have any other plans. I have a new recipe I wanted to try out and would love to spend some time with you and discuss a few things I had on my mind.” You may have to comfort them that it is not anything bad, so they don’t get all crazy like my husband does and did, “Why? What’s wrong? Is everything ok? What is this about?”… Geeez, relax man! That is a perfect time to express that while nothing is wrong, you value communication and honesty in your relationship which is why you wanted to set aside some time to talk about some things you had on your mind. The fact that you are showing an interest in bettering your relationship and citing values you find important in a relationship are positive steps to calming their nerves.

Take some time to jot down some notes of what you want to say so you aren’t flustered, and above all, be honest. Remember that little ditty,"honesty is the best policy”? Well, it really is. If you can’t be honest with your partner, as sad as it is, I doubt it will work out. You have to feel confident and supported in being able to discuss the uncomfortable topics, that is how you strengthen your relationship and grow as a couple; the hard stuff!

My nature is to start with the positives to reassure your partner of your commitment and then work in your truths in a way they are able to understand. For example, “I want to start by saying how much I love you and how thankful I am you made this dinner and my feelings a priority. I appreciate you caring about my needs and wanting to have a foundation of honesty in our relationship.  Because I too value your feelings in this relationship, I want to be completely honest....then, delicately drop that bomb. Maybe it's that you want a bit more than you are currently getting from your partner. Or paying for two households when you’re shacking up each night. Or after five years of serious dating you are thinking it is time to make a honest wife outta me!

Whatever it is, you have to be honest with yourself and your partner. I am not promising you are going to get the result you are looking for, but isn’t it better to find that out than to waste valuable life on a dud of a union? I think so. While this may be the most awkward thing you think you may ever do, it's well worth it. Regardless of the outcome, you will learn from it which is all you can hope for in life. Remember, you are someone special and deserve someone who knows that. If they don’t appreciate you or know what a catch they have, then move along and find someone who does.

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