This week, my Editor had the nerve to ask if I was going to write a serious column, for a change. I was flabbergasted. My column is always serious. I didn't protest, because, after all, I understand. She was referring to the fact that most people smile, laugh, fall out of chairs or otherwise display symptoms of enjoying themselves as they read the Love Doctor column. So put on your seat belts, and let's go.
Today's topic is one for you newlyweds, shacker uppers or those who are about to do either. There's this recently married couple, I know, who's company I am quickly learning to avoid. They are both very nice people, but an evening out with these folks makes you wish you had stayed home and watched something on cable.
This weeks column is dedicated to all those folks who are failing in relationships simply because they either don't understand or will not accept the responsibilities of being part of a couple. Too often, people enter relationships, believing that all they are doing is sharing an apartment or house. No so! Once you accept living with another, life is no longer "what you make it", but, as southerners might say, what "ya'll make it". Once you enter a relationship, there's another person in your lifeboat and they have their own paddle. If you are to go anywhere, you'll have to decide which way to row.
In another way, a relationship is very much like a "pot luck" dinner for two. If both people are going to have a satisfying meal, each person must bring something to the meal that the other can appreciate and enjoy. Having a love relationship with someone who doesn't understand this means that you will rarely enjoy the meal, unless you do all the cooking. That wouldn't last too long, because pretty soon you would realizes that you could stay home and eat twice as much.
There are certain important responsibilities in a love relationship. Each member in a relationship has the dual responsibility to love and to also be "loveable". (Isn't it beautiful, how I put that!)
Let's look into the nature of a love relationship in an effort to discover the requirements for being a successful couple.
Usually we decide to live with another because there are certain benefits to living with a lover other than just readily available sex. Those are good company and help to attain and maintain a lifestyle. Now, if you want to know your responsibilities as one half of a couple, simply flip over these two benefits.
First. you must provide "good company" for one another. One part of being "good company" is being able to hold an entertaining conversation. This might mean making the effort to keep up with events, reading the paper or at least watching some news. It may even mean enrolling in a course once in a while, particularly, if your partner is highly "educated". If one partner "grows" intellectually and the other doesn't, the one who doesn't will soon become boring to the other. If, in this career oriented society, you are blessed with a mate who is willing to be a dedicated homemaker, you should also be willing and able to discuss household topics with interest and enthusiasm.
Another aspect of being "good company" involves being a pleasant part of another person's world. We go to great ends to buy nice furniture and beautify our homes because we want to surround ourselves with pleasant things. Once you accept another person into your life, you have to find a way to combine looking pleasant with being comfortable around the house or apartment. No one wants to live in a dump... or with one, either.
Maintaining a lifestyle requires money and effort. Both should be valued equally. It is your responsibility to invest both in gaining or maintaining the lifestyle that the two of you have decided upon. This is where people screw up all the time; they never make a mutually acceptable decision about lifestyle goals. If one of you is satisfied with the two bedroom apartment and the four cylinder subcompact and the other wants to strive buy a house on the hill and be driven in a Limo, either compromise or get a lawyer.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that money is the only element involved in lifestyle. If a couple consist of one who "works" and one who "keeps house", both should strive to do their best, and appreciate one another for their efforts. The "worker" should do his or her best to do a great job of bringing in the cash. The home maker should aspire to greatness in creating a home environment that is comfortable, clean, organized and creative. Since today most couples are both "workers", they must each split themselves between the two task, but this doesn't mean that they must share the same jobs in the household. Each should try to do those things which they do better and avoid duplication of effort.
When you enter a relationship, you no longer have the right to do things your way, without consideration of your partner. This doesn't mean that you aren't allowed to enjoy yourself. If you like steak, lobster, eggs, liver and veal and your partner likes steak, chicken, eggs, cheese and veal, bring steak, eggs or veal to supper. Both of you will enjoy the meal and be grateful to one another for your contributions.
If, on the other hand, you like steak eggs and lobster and the other person only likes cheese, chicken and veal, you should have found out before you invited them to dinner, because the only way you are going to enjoy dinner is when you eat out!