Guard Them Well: The Keys to Being a Great Couple

Bill and Hillary. Brad and Angelina. The Doctor and “Sexy.” Chuck and Sarah. Lois and Clark. What makes these the best couples? What are their secrets? People end up in relationships all the time. Every day. Every hour! Someone is saying, “do you think you might wanna…?” and another person responds, “uh, okay.” BOOM. Coupledom. Screw up that order, Steven Moffat! As far as the structure, getting into a verbal agreement to be in a relationship is pretty universal. One person asks, the other says yes. Then what? Is your bond now a ticking time bomb? How can you disarm the device? Here are the ways in which you’ll keep the threat level colorless and keep your relationship on track.

IT’S THE KEY. Honesty. My most successful relationship was founded on this one request we made of each other the moment after we agreed to “make it official”: No matter how small, insignificant, reactionary, irrational or nonsensical — just say it. Let it out. Because communication is the ultimate way to diffuse a relationship bomb: it keep the fuse from ever being lit. You stay on the same page then you write the book together. Communication keeps tempers cool. It keeps you in the present moment. It manages, resolves, and avoids conflict. TALK straight. TALK often. TALK regardless of thinking you have something to tell each other. You do. The next word’s always there, just open your mouth and make a sound. It doesn’t have to make sense. Which leads me to tip number two…

Stop operating on logic
The sky’s not always blue. There’s no rationale behind the fact your partner’s scared of ladybugs. And no one can understand why “Hannibal” is on the chopping block. People operate on contradictions. You can’t expect the other person to make sense according to how YOU make sense. So stop holding them to your standard. Trust me, if you give up logic, you save yourself a lot of headaches. Oh, that reminds me…

Accept each other for who you are
My mom loves to talk about the wedding day for her second of three marriages. She says that as her now ex-husband was walking down the aisle she thought of all the ways he’d change once they were married…and he didn’t. To their credit, they are extremely good friends but because they accept the truth that you can’t change another person. Period. To think you can or they will is unrealistic and dangerous. Period. Accept the fact that your partner has no ambition. Accept that they’re never going to stop being a slob. Accept that they’re Republican family will never approve of you. Accept they don’t clip their toenails often enough. That they still love to read “Ender’s Game” even thought Orson Scott Card’s a douche. Accept everything about that person. Doesn’t mean you don’t make concessions and compromises, just love them for who they are and not mold them into your ideal. Speaking of which…

Never think, “it’s supposed to be like…”
Every relationship is a snowflake. Let go of the standards. You can have sex at whatever point you both decide to. You can get married in a year, 10 years, or be together for 50 without every exchanging vows. You can have 5 kids or 0 kids by any means you choose together. The relationship evolves organically. Let it! Don’t force it with rom-com tropes. In that vein…

Take it one day at a time
Wake up and make the choice to be with your partner all over again. Be present. It helps you listen and communicate. It fends off expectations and keeps the focus on what’s happening. Take it one day at a time. Get through today and you’re okay.

One of you should be named Lauren
The two best relationships I’ve ever been in/seen one of the people involved was named Lauren. Like The Naked Man, I predict success 2 out of 3 times.

Be willing to look like an idiot
Dignity has no place in a relationship. Toss it out at the start and you’ll be doing yourselves a great favor.

It’ll never be 50-50
The balance of who is in need of attention and care is always shifting. You’re partners but that partnership means being willing to go back and forth from being the caregiver and the care receiver. It’s never going to be an even split. A shifting 60-40 would guarantee you a lifetime of happiness.

Give up being right all the time
When you’re in a relationship being right often is worth the fight. It’s okay to disagree and leave it at that. Or just admit your wrong. Peace of mind is a priceless commodity.

Now there are tons of other ways to help encourage your relationship bomb never goes off: having mutual goals, liking the same movies, tolerating each other’s families, waffle rendezvous, bringing out the best in each other but they all tie in to the above. These tips are universal, no matter what kind of relationship you’ve found yourself in. The actions are similar but vital: listen, communicate, accept. Every relationship is writing its own rules according to the people involved in it. Just make sure you’re in the same relationship and you’re in a good place.

I wish you love,

The Dude

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