You know what? Just typing that title made me sweat a little – and I’m female. I’ve been socialized to want a long-term relationship. And in terms of how I’m hardwired, there’s nothing about me that avoids commitment. So, if that subject made me uncomfortable, I can only imagine how it made you feel.
For me, the cringe-factor isn’t the idea of being with someone forever. It’s the idea of tolerating discomfort forever. Or living in an unfulfilled relationship forever. Never feeling that spark again – the one you feel in the beginning of a relationship. You know.. The one that made you obsessive. Not having crazy, wild sex – forever.
My parents were never happily married – not to each other or to any of their other spouses. So, I did some thinking for this email…What couple do I know who’s been together for a very long time – and is still HAPPY?
I know one of these weirdo couples. They are the parents of my childhood best friend, who I’ll call Jane. Here’s what I’ll tell you about them:
- They make it look fucking effortless.
- She’s in her 70’s and still puts makeup on every day of her life, never has a visible grey hair, and looks like she just stepped out of a J-Crew catalog.
- I’ve known them since I was 19 years old and I’ve never heard him say ‘no’ to her – about anything. Anything she wants, she can have. You want pasta? Great! Feel like hanging out with your brother today? Awesome – see you tonight. You want me to wear those pants? Sure. No problem.
- I’ve never seen them fight – or even bicker.
- They look like the two happiest people on earth – and they may very well be.
You’d think coming from parents like that, Jane would have it made in the relationship department, right?
Jane went through her divorce just as I was marrying Steph. I think the last time I saw her ex-husband was actually at our wedding. Turns out, we don’t necessarily learn good relationship skills even if we come from happily married parents. For her parents, good relationship skills are effortless, so when Jane ran into trouble in her marriage, she had no tools to use, because she’d never seen her parents struggle and come out the other side.
Jane’s parents aren’t normal.
What is normal is having to learn relationship skills.
Conflict is normal in relationships. Knowing how to handle conflict isn’t.
Losing the spark in a relationship is normal. Knowing how to keep it going is not.
Feeling disconnected in a relationship is normal. Knowing how to reconnect isn’t.
Steph and I have a free Relationship Skills building video series. Each video teaches you how to avoid the most common relationship mistakes. No one’s born with relationship skills — not people like my friend Jane, who comes from Mr. & Mrs. Happy, and not even therapists like Steph and me. We had to learn these the hard way, but thanks to our training and the help of other experts, we figured it out and now we want to share those skills with you.
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