Not just a fabulous Bryan Ferry song but another piece of advice in an occasional series about staying married and sticking together throughout it all. For better and worse, remember…
Do things together. Why have you got together if you don’t do things together? It can be as simple as having dinner together, walking the dog, or grand passions such as golf, fishing, the theatre, as well as the number one doing thing together: having sex, loads of it for as long as you can. It is important!
Do things apart. You need time away from each other. Do things with other people; keep your friends, your interests. You don’t become an extension of the other person, only able to exist with them, because of them – that way boredom and resentment lie. Sometimes extended time apart is a good things too – a trip away – to remind you both of what you have in each other. Absence, of a timed nature, does make the heart fonder.
Don’t be afraid to fight. If you don’t fight you’re not involved, there is no passion and what are you doing together? Are you sure there’s nothing to fight about – are you letting things wash over you for the sake of a quiet life? Be careful of this – this is the road to resentment and ruin. Fighting is essential to clearing the air, to sorting your differences. Fight frequently but small, don’t let things get so out of hand that fighting means the end.
Forgiveness has its own time. You must make up but we need our own time to get over things. Some of us have quick recovery rates, others take a while to bounce back. You can’t make your partner get over your fight in your time, you have to let them work through it. But that doesn’t mean they sulk for days, or play no-speaks. Knock that right on the head – it is corrosive and controlling behaviour, don’t stand for it. But don’t badger them either.
Agree on the big things. This means things like children, getting into debt together, where we live, what our moral and ethical compass is. These things matter, you need to have some ground rules about what is important, if these are deal breakers then go your separate ways as these are unlikely to change. If one partner is forced into a big thing by the other it will lead to disaster, sooner or later. Don’t force the other one to have children if it’s not their scene, they will resent you, the child and everyone’s life will be shit. Travel and spending patterns can be the same, as can personal indulgences. Agree about boundaries, allow some wobbles but be clear about your own bottom line.
Let little things go. This can be so hard to do! But you can’t harbour resentment over every missed kiss, lack of flowers, not having sex every night of the week, buying the wrong CD for your birthday (Doctor Hook, really dear, when did I ever say I liked them?) A missed compliment, not shaving for three days, snoring, a forgotten arrangement doesn’t spell the end. Remember all the things that work, the little kindnesses along the way – always better to see what is there, than concentrate on what’s missing.
Be truthful. Trust comes from truth, but softly said and wisely placed. Small lies hurt no-one – two drinks at the pub when it’s really four is fine, claiming the shoes were only twenty dollars when really they were fifty is acceptable too, but a child by your housemaid (Arnie) is not really okay at all, is it, nor is some truth from the past that could rear up and rip your head off. Even if you lie to yourself, avoid lying to your loved one – they’ll only lie to you and you’d hate that, wouldn’t you?
Remember why you got together in the first place. This is really important. As the years go by and we age and crumple, fatten and thicken, our sparkle dulls we need to look back to those magic moments from the early days. Remember how you used to feel, what it was about them that made your heart race, that made you never want to be without them. Those things are still there, if a bit hidden from view. Have dinner out, spend time together, reminisce, be nostalgic, hold hands across the table. Remember no-one else knows you as well as this person does and still loves you just the same! (Images from personal collection)