Last week, I was on a Saturday assignment (yes, work ruins our social life) at a lovely restaurant awaiting the people I was to interview. There was beautiful music floating in the air and it suddenly occurred to me that it was a very date-worthy place. There were about five couples seated and a couple of more walked in – dressed to impress, arm-in-arm, and looking very much in love. But before I could smile beatifically and hum ‘Love is all around me’, I started noticing ‘things’. One couple in the far left was making duck faces and trying to perfect their selfie, their 57th attempt with the same ghoulish face. Once done, they quickly went back to their phones and seemed to upload these pictures and were immediately showing off their handiwork to each other. The case was almost the same two tables away. To their credit, this couple wasn’t letting a mere selfie take the centrestage; it was foodgasm that they were obsessing over! Ditto couple three, four and five. None of them were talking to each other. And then of course, there was me, not with my spouse at this fancy place, but carrying work to it. Talk about irony.
A vicious circle
Think about people around you. Think about their relationships. Heck, just look at yourself. Doesn’t it remind you of one of those awful advertisements from the TV shopping networks that go, “Earlier, I used to be happy. I was young and in love, and my wife/husband was enamoured by me. Now I am depressed because my wife/husband is not interested in me any longer. My life is a chore. Even my cat doesn’t talk to meâ€¦.” Yes, you get the picture, it’s the pits. The weird thing is most relationships go down this route; from this fun, exciting, hot phase tempered to yea-we-are-still-happy, watered down to the delusional he/she-is-still-into-me to the downright frigid doesn’t-care-for-me zone.
The question is: How to avoid this?
The answer is: You can’t.
Great. Now that it’s officially put on print, you can all put your anxiety in a box and drown it in the Pacific or maybe the Arabian, since that’s closer. You can exhale. It’s okay. Relationships are difficult to manage and maintain. You are not going to be hoppity bunnies all your lives (pun intended) and that’s fine too. So maybe we are putting a lot of therapists out of work here but, people, this is the truth. But, you ask, what about the spark? What about keeping it alive? What about rekindling it? Balderdash, all of it.
But are you really interested in building your relationship and watching it grow? It is a lot of hard work – you’ve got to watch out for these Cs.
Cut the crap
But before you fling whatever you have at hand on this writer or decide to have a fling outside your relationship, how about reading through? When relationships are not seen as a cumbersome rock that needs to be lugged around everywhere or shown off as a prized possession, suddenly the weight of ‘maintaining’ them just goes off. And there’s the key!
So here’s the deal. If you thought falling in love/finding the right partner was the most difficult part of a relationship, brace up! It’s in the keeping that the real work begins. You need to realise that it’s not a quick-fix formula. Relationships aren’t like a cola where you shake the bottle a bit once in a while and the fizz appears. You got to think them through, yet not make it seem like a task.
If you venture into the relationship thinking that your partner is your best buddy, you will waltz through this one. Strange though it may seem, and whatever the statistics say about being buddies and the effect on sex life, take this as the absolute truth. Your friend won’t let you down, right? You aren’t a burden, right? And you can talk about anything between friends, right? Now substitute the word life partner there, and it should still fit wonderfully. Part of this thought stems from equality, part from comfortable company. Friends measure up well against each other and give you a lovely sense of comfort and that’s what your relationship goals should be too.
Cool your heels
Among other things, that is! Most people think that sex drives relationships. Well, maybe it does drive them when relationships are plural! For a single, long-term, committed relationship, sex is not top-of-the-ladder priority. The statistics prefer to paint a different picture. But if you’re counting and doing it, just to keep up with the statistics, you’ve lost the plot. Remember those statistics are for average people, and you wouldn’t want to classify your relationship or your partner or yourself as average, would you?
All the compulsory sex makes it sound like a corporate report with graphs portraying how many times you dipped and the peaks you achieved. Sounds nonsensical, doesn’t it? One or two or five or six or 20. It doesn’t matter how often you do ‘it’, not as much as bonding does. In fact, whoever said that sex keeps a relationship strong either never had children or never heard of “I am too tired/unkempt/lazy to have sex but I love you”. Have you experienced how sometimes, a touch or a gaze in the eyes can be more intimate than going in for the 69?
This is the foundation of every relationship. If communication between any two people halts, you can be sure the relationship, of whatever kind, will not last long. So, if anything, keep on working at rekindling that communication, stoking that fire, because that is what will keep the relationship strong. This is a difficult thing to do. The days when you have arguments and don’t even want to look at each other are the worst. How do you rebuild the relationship, how do you begin to talk. Gulp your anger or throw it out of the window and just start talking. Throw things at each other if you must (just make sure they are not hard or pointed), but just speak to each other again!
So how do stay committed to your partner? There are, after all, many more fish in the pond (ahem)? Most people talk about commitment being in the mind and god knows how many times you gone astray that way! Staying committed is also a conscious effort. Maybe it helps to remember that your partner is also human and could have similar thoughts? Don’t kill yourself if you’ve trespassed that invisible line in your head; it’s alright. But acting out your fantasy will definitely lead to hurt that cannot be dealt with and you’ve got to check yourself over there. Constantly remind yourself that this is the person who has shared life’s ups and downs with you while the new person is seeing only the good side to your personality and situation in life. Think long-term.
No comparison at all
Basic human instinct, you think? Jump to what you like, or at least eye it unabashedly? Not done, please. You cannot generalise that it is a basic human instinct and then get away with all of it. Comparison to other people and their partners could well qualify to be the number one reason that brings down a good relationship. Yet, we are all guilty of it. Social media makes our differences even more pointed and in your face. Bright, happy, shiny people are all we see and begin to compare. Stop to think if that’s their real life or if that’s their real happiness minus the filters that have so happily taken over more than just our pictures.
Conditioned to love
Love is an affirmation and if you say to the universe that you love someone it really does conspire to help love blossom. Have you tried saying out loud that you love your partner and he/she reciprocates that love? Try it. Every day. It’s better than all the sex you must compulsorily have!