Guest Post: She said/He said: What makes a relationship ‘work?’

On this day, six months ago, I met M, and it’s been nothing short of amazing ever since. So, I thought it would be fitting to share a guest post from my sister on what makes a relationship work, because she has been my inspiration for proving that there is such thing as a successful, happy, healthy, fun and sexy relationship or, in her case, marriage. She’s becoming my muse these days, with her sage words of advice (and I think you’d agree, based on this post, and this one, most recently!).

Take it away sis…

When my sister asked me to write a guest post for her on what makes our marriage work, I was honored, actually. Not that I think we have the best marriage that ever existed or anything, but because for my sister, who has been through SO much relationship-wise, to see my relationship with Scott as one to aspire to? Well, that seriously has to be the best compliment a sister could ever give.

So I got to thinking about it some more and figured a guest post on what makes our marriage work would only be fitting if co-authored by me and my husband, together.  Plus, you’ll soon see, doing it this way is way more fun than me just blabbing on and on. 😉

So – here’s what makes our marriage what it is: He said/she said style:

No “upstairs/downstairs” – as in, we try very hard to be present with one another when we’re at home. Our schedules are busy enough as it is so the little time we have (especially during the week) to be together, we try to make the most of it. So our general “rule” has been that when we’re home together, we spend it together. And not in an “I have to stick to you like glue when I’m home” way, but in our actions. Sure – I could be sitting on the couch blogging, but Scott will be next to me, watching the Red Sox. Just being near eachother is sometimes all we need. It works for us. The key to this is togetherness. At the end of the night, we’ve done our “own thing” to a certain extent, but we’ve also done things together. Cooking together. Watching our favorite TV show together. Making out together. You get the idea.

She said: I have to say, we weren’t always great at this. We went through a phase where we were physically together at home, but not really together. We were losing that connection, that closeness. Things were getting stale and it was really hard to see that happen. That’s when we started to run together, sit on the deck and play rummy over a glass of wine together, play (and lose badly) a game of Monopoly together. We made a conscious effort to embrace togetherness vs. taking our time together for granted. Wasting it, almost.

He said: I guess I stole this one from my parents. They are always near eachother when they’re home. My mom might be playing Pogo on the laptop while my father is sound asleep on the recliner next to her. But – they are together. They have their coffee together after dinner every single night. Without fail. And it’s worked for them for over 40 years so they must be doing something right.

Common interests are important. At the beginning, you discover common interests for no other reason than just to do it because your new girlfriend or boyfriend likes it. But, eventually, in a long-term relationship or marriage, you do it because you’ve come to genuinely share that common interest.

She said: Never used to care at ALL about sports. At all. Met Scott. Pretended to enjoy it because he would get SO fired up watching the Sox or the Pats play. But now? I miss the sound of the Sox in the background on a spring afternoon. Remy and Orsillo calling the plays, it means spring is here and it makes me happy. But it makes me even happier to see the look of glee in Scott’s eyes every time the Sox are on. That makes it so worth it to me (and, not gonna lie, I love when I can “one-up” him on hearing about a trade before him or something so I can act all “in the know” on something sports-related. I think he digs it. 😉 )

He said: It was nice to be the expert at something in our relationship. Every time we watched a game together, she’d ask me the same question about a certain play or why the ref called a particular time-out. And I patiently answer her questions (even if she asks the same question every.single.time). Because she’s taken an interest in something I love and honestly likes it…and I’m still the expert. At something in our relationship.

We get eachother. Our nuances, quirks. As in, Scott is always going to be the “puppies and rainbows” guy in the relationship. I’m always going to be the one to get fired-up. And we’re going to disagree at times about that. But it’s ok to disagree. We get eachother and how we react to ups and downs in life.

She said – This one took some time. And we’re still working on it, admittedly. Picture this scene: I come home from work, pissed off at the world at something that happened that day. I’m ready to vent and fume and stomp my feet like a child. Scott’s reaction? Total optimism (all that “tomorrow’s a new day baloney” LOL). And it DRIVES me nuts sometimes. I just want him to get ANGRY with me. And he doesn’t know how to. It’s just not in his DNA (most of the time, anyway). But he’s learning that sometimes I need him to “fake” get angry with me just so I feel like he’s on my side. Now I’ll come home and he’ll swear and stomp around right along with me (for all of .25 seconds) before turning on the optimism. Hey – it’s a step in the right direction (for me anyway!)

He said: Every time I try to diffuse the anger, I get the “but I’m not YOU” line. As in, she doesn’t know how to find the optimism FIRST in a situation. But I do. I’d rather not spend time focusing on the negative. What’s the point? And it took me awhile to get that she NEEDS to fume sometimes before she’ll come around to my side. It’s caused plenty of fights…but hey, a good fight isn’t so bad (it means make-up sex!) now and then too. It means we’re communicating vs. bottling it all up.  So now, I let her be angry for a few minutes, but any longer still drives me crazy.

We can find romance anywhere. Literally. A romantic evening can involve Swedish fish and gummy bears. Or, it can involve a Bobby Flay-style Throwdown dinner at home, over a bottle (or two) of wine. And, it most definitely involves random fancy schmancy nights out in the city (thank you Rue La La!).

She said: This one is a biggie for us. Might even be the most important key, at least for us. We put a lot of energy into making sure we’re keeping that fire burning. We went through a rut a few years ago…it was when we first got married, surprisingly. We were going through the motions. We weren’t “courting” eachother anymore. We were in a routine. I swear, we are way more romantic now, almost seven years into our marriage than we ever were. Nearly every weekend involves a date night (“in” or out on the town). Even during the week we make that effort – to try a new restaurant, or to go for a run together and then grill on the deck, with the Christmas lights twinkling on the porch. Who cares if it’s a random Tuesday night, it’s fun and it keeps things alive between us.

He said: I love to touch my wife (hey, hey, mind outta the gutter).  By that I mean, physical contact or closeness. I just love to be near her. To rub her leg while we sit on the deck in the summer. Or to hold her hand while grocery shopping (something she hates to do, so why not make it romantic??). Or to pour her a glass of wine while cooking dinner together in the middle of the week.

We laugh. A lot. At eachother. Together. We aren’t serious all the time. Rarely, even. Hell, we even laugh during sex.

She said: True. He’s my best friend. We laugh together. We cry together. We share our hopes and dreams together.  We just fit.

He said: Well actually, the first time I asked her who her best friend was. She said, without hesitation “Danielle.” Then she asked me who mine was. I said “you.” Killer trick question, right?? In her defense this was when we were still dating. But I know now that I’m her best friend now. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Final words of wisdom? Be honest. And have lots of sex. Seriously. It’s important.

I have no words other than to say amen sister (and brother in law!) for giving me the guidance I need to make sure my own relationship goes the distance (if it’s meant to, and I have an inkling that it just may) in your actions alone. Love you guys!

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31 thoughts on “Guest Post: She said/He said: What makes a relationship ‘work?’

  1. Really great post. I totally agree on the getting each others quirks and definitely laughter. I love that Jason and I have some things in common that we can do together too – like running. What I find, however, is that sometimes even if we’re together in the house (because we almost always are), it’s not really always feeling together though. I don’t mean we have to sit and talk non-stop, but if I’m blogging and he’s zone out on the tv, we’re really not “together” emotionally. Does that make sense.

    I really enjoy the evenings when we cook together and eat at the table. No distractions at all. It can be so easy to fall into a pattern, habit, rut. So sometimes small changes can go a LONG way.

    1. Now I can be the proud sister reading her post…they really have a great relationship that I aspire to, but at the same time, that took work to get to, so I am so happy they are where they are. And you are right, there is a huge difference between being ‘next to each other’ and being with each other at night. So true!

  2. YES! This made me laugh and cry! So good to think of some of these things I had (and lost) in my own marriage. AND to think of how I no longer take them for granted with my Gentleman.

    Great post! Laughter and sex. AMEN!

    1. YES! It made me laugh and tear up a little bit too, because it’s right-on. And I love my brother in law’s perspective. It’s awesome 🙂 AMEN!

    1. Yea, I’ve been bugging her to do one for awhile now, because she is always giving me such great advice and guidance, I wanted her to share it all here too.

  3. love this post, it was fun to hear from Jess’s husband too, sounds like one great marriage. I hope I can achieve a great marriage too with my future prince.

  4. This was such a great idea and I absolutely loved it. It’s so great to get perspectives from different people on what’s important in a marriage / relationship because sometimes you really just do forget.

  5. Great post! Love the he said/she said approach to the issue. I also think your line in the opener that no relationship is perfect is spot on. Quite a few couples feel like they have to pretend that everything is perfect. Relationships are high-reward, but they’re also a lot of work.

    1. I was one of those couples that had to pretend for perfection and never fought through something I stood for. I won’t ever do that again!

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