Catherine Hyde- Paralegal
Our group blog is entitled “Matrimonial Matters”. It consists of articles that provide helpful hints on separation and divorce. What if we read the title in a different way – what if instead we look at “marriage matters” and using the term marriage loosely to include common law relationships. Therefore, relationships with our spouses matter. It is important to look at not only what to do when the relationship breaks down but what makes successful relationships or what can you do to improve your relationship.
I was watching an episode of Cityline on CityTV recently regarding relationships. One segment involved three couples of various ages where the woman wrote down her top 5 things she needed in the relationship for romance. The men then had to guess what those were. The men did fairly well getting 2 or 3 out of 5. When it was first suggested that you write down your top 5 things I was thinking what kind of monumental things might that be but in fact the items these women had on their lists were simple – housework, making dinner, gifts/flowers, walks together, dancing, attentiveness. They did not all have the same top 5 but they were all simple, doable things. The gist of this is that if you know what your spouse’s top 5 items are, then you can deliver those and your relationship will be better for it. More importantly, it emphasized having a discussion with one another so that your spouse knows what your top 5 are. I know, as women we tend to think that the men should just know what we want, but, as is often said, men and women are not wired the same way. Providing the list ensures they know. Remember the men are going to provide a list as well. Relationships are two sided. All of the items on the lists can be done whether you are just beginning life together, in those busy years with children, or are empty nesters. It just means that you have taken time to acknowledge each other and what you need – that your relationship is still important.
In any relationship, there are going to be hills and valleys. It is how you handle the bad times as well as the good times that will bring you closer together. Those years with young children or trying teenagers have their moments when between work and home both parties are totally stressed. Maintaining your relationship can be just one more item on the “to do” list. Perhaps money is tight and you argue about what you are spending it on. You might be empty nesters and thinking that it is time for you now but suddenly you appear to be on different paths. Perhaps in addition to children you are looking after your parents which stretch you to the max. One party may be suffering setbacks at work. These are the valleys. Climb the hill and see if you can get back to the top. Part of doing that is ensuring you talk with your spouse. Discuss what you are feeling. Your partner may not be aware at all but just muddling through the day to day stuff and thinking you are doing the same. Remember the top 5 list and ask yourself whether you have been putting in the effort or merely showing up, going through the motions. Too often people decide to break up at the first sign of turmoil. It is important to have the dialogue and work through your difficulties. If you really cannot come to a resolution then yes it is time to move on but first try to see if you can get back to the top of the hill. Communication in any relationship is key. Try it – make your top 5 list and exchange it with your partner. Don’t expect perfection – be happy with the effort –your partner is trying. Find some older couple you admire and ask them their secret. Above all, enjoy the journey!