Love It or List It: An Analogy For The Long-Term Relationship

Welcome to Format Free Friday, when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Information.

So you’re in a long-term relationship. The early glow of your relationship has since faded to a reliable dull. Date nights are few and far between. Sex is even less common. You’re not exactly unhappy until you begin questioning whether or not you deserve more in life, and in that moment you can become unhappy enough to fuel the internal question that you do your best to avoid asking: Should I stay in this relationship or is it time to go?

It’s not dissimilar to HG’s show, Love It or List It, really. In it, “a homeowning couple or family has to decide between keeping their newly renovated current home (‘Love It’) or to buy a new home and sell their current one (‘List It’),” Wikipedia.

I love this show. My heart is always with the designer, Hilary (Love It), who has the insanely difficult job of gut renovating the disgruntled homeowners’ home – a home that was a good fit many years ago but which no longer meets their needs.  Realtor David (List It) has what I believe to be a far easier job – simply find the couple a new home. How easy is that?

It’s almost as easy as walking away from your long-term relationship, and just as tempting: A brand new object to love, no compromises to make, no new skills to learn… Or so you think.

Here’s what the viewer doesn’t see: When those families move to their new, shiny home, they have to take themselves. They think the issue was their small, cluttered, worn-out home and that moving is their panacea. You give that family 6 months and they’re going to be griping over the same old issues, because the real issues were never addressed and certainly never eradicated.

Long-term relationships require work. In much the same way that the interior of your home needs to be repainted every few years (lest you become the disgruntled homeowner), you need to keep yourself looking and behaving well. You need to focus less on your partner’s faults and more on developing yourself to be the best partner you can be. Because the answer is rarely that we picked the wrong home or partner. And of course, every now and then there truly is a poor fit because we’ve outgrown what we once loved. But rest assured, before you go shopping for a newer version, you’d better confirm you’ve learned some new skills and taken your own inventory. Because if you move into a new home and fail to employ a new organizational system to keep your space clutter-free, you’ll have the same issues pop up in no time at all. And what will you do then? Blame it on another bad choice?

Dr. Darcy’s Holiday Survival Guide

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Welcome back to the Holiday Edition of Tuesday’s Tips. For the entire month of December, I’m dedicating every Tuesday to dispensing 1 tip designed to help YOU survive the holidays. Last week we talked about the importance of setting boundaries in managing stress. I gave you a challenge to turn down one request or invitation. If you missed last week’s post, I’ve linked to it here.

This week we’re embracing the holiday green – CASH, that is. Money is one of the biggest stressors around the holidays – and it need not be. Follow my 1 tip this week and watch your money stress melt away:

Pretend your money is not your own. You are a personal assistant, hired to buy only the items that your boss gave you on a list. You, of course, will need to make lists before heading into any store, virtual or physical. Stick to the list, and you’ll have a force field of self-control the likes of which you’ve never seen. If you find in a week that it’s worked, do it for another week. Take it a week at a time. Good luck!

Texting The Weiner

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Dear Dr. Darcy:

I’ve been married almost 20 years and during that time my husband has had some online shenanigans that he’s sworn have ended but I continuously find out that he’s still up to his old tricks. The latest occurred when he accidentally took my phone to work, leaving me with his phone (they are the same phone – you can’t tell them apart, and we have the same pass code), and I was sitting in the middle of a meeting when a texted picture of some strange woman’s breasts appeared on the phone and when I opened it, I saw that she was responding to a text from the day before – from my husband – of his penis! Is this something that can change? Is it an addiction? Should I just end the marriage? What would you do?

ANSWER

The greatest prediction of future behavior is past behavior. If you do what you’ve done in the past in response to the recent penis text, you’re going to get the same result. If you grab your ovaries and summon up a modicum of self-worth and do something different, you just may get a different outcome.

Listen, it’s easy for me to sit here in my living room sipping coffee and weigh in on what I’d do if I were you. The truth is I’ll never know what I’d do unless and until I am in your situation. But what I’d like to think I’d do…and more importantly, what I think you should do is pack your bags and get the fuck out of that house. Take drastic action in the hope of provoking drastic change. Now whether that change comes in the form of an ah-ha moment in your husband or whether it comes in your own realization that you deserve better is unimportant. What is important is that you stop relying on your husband’s ability to change. You need to change. And until you do, you’re husband’s going to keep texting his business to any willing participant. And judging by recent headlines, there’s no lack of women willing to participate.

Writer’s stats: Female, Heterosexual.