Sometimes I have the audacity to use this blog to offer advice.
The words of wisdom I have to offer today sound so obvious that I might as well accompany this with a post about how you shouldn’t wake a sleeping baby, touch a lit hob, or suggest that perhaps an England rugby fan is ready to laugh about the team’s World Cup performance (WARNING: they’re definitely not).
But the number of times I find myself discussing this issue makes me think that maybe it isn’t, so here it is written down just in case.
This week marked ten years since my husband and I boarded the now decade long party bus that is our relationship. (I considered writing something here about the petrol being our love, the steering wheel being our hearts, and the GPS system being our forever-entwined souls but I decided against it in case it wouldn’t be immediately obvious that I was being ironic. Thank goodness we dodged that embarrassment, eh guys.)
And I realised that above all else, the most useful thing this time has taught me is how important it is to be nice to each other. That at your core, sitting quietly below the surface of your relationship, holding you together like roots under a tree, foundations below a house, or a good pair of pants beneath a very close fitting dress, needs to be a solid layer of kindness. Because without it, it’s just a matter of time before the whole thing unravels – and everybody catches an eyeful of your wobbly bits.
I think that part of the reason why this blindingly obvious statement needs to be made is because of how incredibly easy it is not to be nice – to let exhaustion turn you into a short-tempered, unreasonable fool; to let domestic gripes cast a shadow over your weekend, to think that just because somebody sleeps with their head next yours it means that they can read your mind…
So we have to put the effort in.
I know that any time we’ve had a run in, it’s because one of us hasn’t been nice to the other person. We’ve forgotten to think about how something might make them feel, or what sort of state they’re coming to a conversation in. Or, as is too frequently the case for me, I’ve failed to just keep my mouth shut, go to bed, and realise I’m not actually angry at all, I’m just tired and feel like having a strop. (Because guess what, Charlotte, that isn’t a good enough reason).
We all have to learn what it really means to be a nice person to be in a relationship with. I don’t see how anybody could nail it straight away (unless you really are a mind reader, in which case, you must be awesome at it). You just have to care enough to try, and to put the energy into getting it right. Otherwise, you might as well just pack up, go home, and stop wasting everybody’s time.
Despite having the gall to write this down and publish it on the internet, I do not consider myself to be any kind of expert in this area; I just thought that what I’ve learnt might just come in handy for somebody else:
That life is better when you stop and think about how nice you’re really being – rather than just powering ahead and behaving badly.
That behind every good relationship is a constant stream of feedback (sexy stuff, I know).
That loving someone means wanting them to be happy, and that being kind to them is Step One.
And that no matter how long you’ve been together, or how old you are, it never hurts to be reminded to try not to be a dick.