(note: This blog was previously published on CharlestonGrit.com)
The Internet is glad to give you the recipe for the perfect relationship: a drip of that, a dollop of this, and true love forever.
But, like the best recipes, the ingredients will vary by what’s at hand, and vary by personal taste.
I can’t tell you what makes the perfect relationship, but I can tell you what relationship truisms you can freely ignore:
Don’t go to bed angry.
Sometimes the mad is so big it goes past bedtime. And sometimes you’re so exhausted that you want to shriek like a teakettle. Go to bed. Exhaustion isn’t going to make you less angry, it’s just going to make you more irrational. It’s more important not to go to bed apathetic. Because anger is a kind of passion, but apathy? It’s just the death of passion. And you may find that, during the night, your body has wound its way around your mate and your body forgives before your mind catches up.
Learn to share your lover’s hobbies.
I love to dance. My husband thinks the three minutes a song lasts is two and a half too long to be on the dance floor. My husband loves tennis. I tried tennis, but our opponents would always send the ball flying at me, the weak link, and my husband would wind up watching me blow the game. The only time I won a game for us was when I smashed the ball into an opponent’s eye, and that was a complete accident. I no longer play tennis.
Never go on separate vacations. Vacations together can be blissful. Long, sexy mornings with nowhere to go, dinners by candlelight with the time to laugh. And shared memories after you get back home. But don’t discount vacations without your love, experiences where you get back in touch with who you are at your core, and memories you get to recount fresh to your beloved, who has give you a chance to miss him.
You Should Share Your Feelings
You don’t want to be the Sphinx, but sharing your every emotion can be exhausting. Does your lover really need to ride the highs and lows of your PMS? Here’s the deal. You are responsible for your own emotions. It’s okay to give your lover fair warning that he should steer clear of you on a blue day, but your lover is not your therapist and you should never get the two confused.
If You’re Having Sex More or Less Than the National Average, Something’s Wrong
Okay, let’s get honest here. The surveys lie. Nobody admits their real number of sexual contacts per week. And, even if they are being honest, what does that have to do with you? You need to communicate with your lover and compromise. The truth is, you are going to have sex more than one of you is interested in and less than one of you wants. Get over it.
If He (or She) Loves You, They Will Memorize What Turns You On
Bullshit. If you were a robot, maybe the same routine would turn you on every time, but you’re a person. Maybe one day, you want something rough and fast and another, you’re feeling fragile and want to be treated like a delicate flower. If your lover has telepathic powers, more power to you. But most men and women need a little gentle coaching about what it is you need, and you certainly deserve to have what you need, so talk about it!
A Good Relationship Fixes Everything
Sure, someday your prince or princess will come. But you’re gonna be the same old schlub you’ve always been. And the funny thing is we tend to pick people who push our buttons. They’re dead ringers for our critical fathers, or shrewish mothers, and they will never, never be perfect. So, until you’ve got a pretty solid relationship with yourself, no relationship is going to be a panacea.