You know how shit snowballs? How, when one thing goes wrong in your life, EVERYTHING goes wrong? You don’t just sludge the engine block in your car, you also lose your job, and your house burns down in the same month.
Our relationships are like that too. We don’t just stop having sex one day. We stop having sex because we spent the last six months doing nothing but screaming at each other. I don’t want to fuck you, I want to gouge your eyes out with a dull, rusty spoon. And I wanna hear you scream. Not like, in a good way, either.
At some point in time, you will reach your crossroads. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less likely to make me commit homicide.
I’ll tell you a secret. It isn’t divorce or stay married. That’s NOT your crossroad. Your choice is simple. Survive, or thrive.
See, if you’re miserable in your relationship, it’s highly likely that you’re miserable in the rest of your life too. Divorce may fix your problems with your partner (and I know a lot of divorcees who are crying with laughter at that, because for them, divorce has infinitely complicated their relationships with their ex-partners), but even if it does, it won’t fix your relationship with yourself.
If this is an area where you struggle, I have a class for that.
But I promise you, divorce isn’t a quick fix. And it won’t automatically make you happy. I will qualify that statement by saying that if your relationship is abusive, then leaving IS the solution to a great number of your problems.
However, in the absence of that, you’re still left with a partner you fantasize about killing. I adore my husband, and my current plan includes bricks, the stairwell in our backyard, and an “accident” (although now I will have to come up with a new plan).
“You said gratitude, Briar. I’m not seeing any gratitude round these parts.”
Ah. So I did. Just as the bad shit snowballs, so can the good shit. Fine wine, limos, pretty girls, all yours.
Sorry. Forgot where I was for a minute.
No, I’m not channeling The Secret. It’s like that old insurance commercial. One good deed leads to another, all that crap.
But it’s true. If you think of partnership as an equal exchange, then you get out what you put in, right? So, if the partnership is not functional, chances are good that BOTH partners are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs.
Now, let’s be real. Women usually get the short end of this stick, especially women with children (says the lady on her laptop, watching The Lego Movie, and waiting for the dryer to go off). I work full time, homeschool my kids, generally keep a pretty tidy ship, and occasionally manage to throw food at people. If my husband didn’t adequately contribute to the day to day management of our household, then I would lose my everloving shit.
However, men have their complaints too. I’ll give you one guess as to what 93% of them are. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t justified.
Remember, it’s an equal exchange.
Now, if you’re reached the stage where you’re shopping at a hardware store for a shovel (in cash), chances are good we’ve got a lot of problems. You’ve considered cheating, finding a divorce attorney, or just running away, and never looking back. At the very least, you have a laundry list of complaints.
And I want you to write them all down.
Write them all down, and then prioritize them, from highest to lowest. So, the fact that you haven’t has sex in a year, can’t be in the same room together without snarling and / or foaming at the mouth, and are irritated at every single word that comes outta their mouth before they even say it… that’s top of the list stuff.
Bottom of the list stuff are things like… not kissing your partner before they leave for work in the morning. Leaving the cap off the toothpaste. Not putting your dirty ass socks in the fucking hamper. Because it’s RIGHT FUCKING THERE. (Not my issue at all. Nerp.)
Anything that makes your blood pressure rise should go on the list.
The next step is to have your partner write a list of their own. For the love of all that’s holy, don’t write your lists together. I promise you’ll fight about them if you do. Even sitting at the table together is dangerous. Don’t give in to that temptation to impale them with your writing implement.
But, once everyone has completed lists, then you can swap. Expect to fight about that. Not the actual swap, just the contents of what’s on your new list. Some of it will be expected. Some of it will not, and that’s likely the stuff that will hurt the most.
Now, here’s where the magic happens.
That big stuff, at the top of the list? You can’t fix that. There’s a lot of reasons for this, but mostly, it comes down to a simple fact. That shit is WAY too fucking big. Take sex. If it’s been awhile, the idea of jumping right back in the saddle isn’t just unrealistic, it might actually be downright repulsive.
It’s too big, it’s too scary, and it’s just too much.
And, if you are a human being, that means that you won’t do it. As a species, we’re LAZY. The scope of our evolution has been to create ways to be even more lazy. The idea of fixing something as vague and ephemeral as your sex life just ain’t happening.
But those socks?
Yeah, that I can probably do.
Gratitude is cumulative. Just one small action on your part, just one equal exchange can turn into a snowball of gratitude.
Because remember, it’s a partnership. If I do something nice for you, you will probably be motivated into doing something in return. And the motivation here doesn’t matter. Even spite will do at this point (seriously), as long as there’s forward momentum.
Just start at the bottom of your list, and work your way up.
Now, some ground rules.
This isn’t a competition. Getting to check something off your list doesn’t earn you brownie points. Especially if your list happens to be shorter than your partner’s—ladies, I’m looking at you. Gentlemen, doing something once does NOT in fact mean that you will never have to do it again. And for the love of the gods, don’t wait for your partner to start on their list, or neither one of you EVER will.
Remember when I said you had two choices? Survive or thrive?
Marriage is kind of like a peace lily. Just… go with me for a sec. If you aren’t familiar with them, this is the plant to give your friends who kill everything. A peace lily is incredibly hardy, and will grow in about any condition. They are exceedingly difficult to kill, because when they need water, their stalks will get all droopy. It’s a slow process, but one day you’ll look over and think, “I can’t remember the last time I watered you.”
And then you water, and you can literally watch the leaves perk back up. It is a process of minutes.
However, appearances are deceiving. Despite it’s hardy nature, that poorly tended peace lily is only surviving.
You see, a happy peace lily blooms.
But this is actual work. Not an occasionally watering. It takes daily watering, in just the right proportions, tending, pruning, proper sunlight, an occasional repotting, all of that and more for a peace lily to thrive.
So too must you tend to your partnership. It takes daily maintenance for it to thrive.
Just remember, maintenance doesn’t have to be hard. Repotting doesn’t happen everyday, and watering is easy. Over time, the little things DO add up. And before you know it, you’re looking at the big stuff on the list, and it’s not that big any more.
So, decide. Survive, or thrive?