Relationships are like food: sometimes we go through a sweet period, sprinkling yummy “I love you’s” here and there. Other times, something turns sour. A word, a small remark rots a whole day, like a mold-covered strawberry infects an entire packet. But hopefully for the most part, we enjoy a balanced, contenting diet, adapted to our needs.
Everybody’s food diet is different, but there are some basics to stick to: not too much of the junk, limit salt, watch sugar, etc. And coating some bad food with additives and colorants to make it look healthy and attractive, doesn’t do the deed. There’s nothing healthier than making a meal with fresh, basic ingredients.
I don’t have the recipe for ever-lasting love. But just like with food, I feel that there are some basics to stick to. We should definitely keep the lies out, nurture one another, and stay away from the many fake additives that might keep our relationships on the display shelf for longer, but at what cost to their health? In my view, some things scream “Need for attention”. They are:
1. If you can’t tell your partner that he/she is an ill-tempered, annoying brat when he/she’s being one, that’s not right. You should be able to tell it like it is. There might be a fine line between being direct and hurting feelings, but let’s face it, when you’re going out all night drinking with your friends while your wife is home with two sick kids and has not slept in a week, you are it! If you unleash a storm of insults on your husband because he snores too much, you are it! And you deserve to know. So you can take a good look in the mirror. If your partner can’t tell you that you are being unreasonable without you losing the plot, then guess what . . . You are it!
2. If you say, “I am sorry”, immediately followed by, “but”, that’s not an apology. That’s an explanation as to why you’re not apologizing. I know the famous movie line, “Love is to never have to say you’re sorry”, but (there it is!), I believe love to be the exact opposite. If you’re being purposely mean, you need to apologize. If you’re being inconsiderate you need to apologize, if you’re being hurtful, you need to apologize. If you never apologize, could you possibly be all of the above?
3. If you feel the need to express your undying love and eternal faithfulness in the privacy of your Facebook page, that’s not right. I’m not talking about the occasional nice words, here and there. I’m talking about the constant need to post that, you do love him / her. Your “friends might “like” the sugar coated lines you write on your wall everyday. But they will equally “like” the video of you cutting his clothes and hammering his gnome collection. The only persons who need to acknowledge that you love your partner are . . . your partner, and your children.
4. If you think Fifty Shades Of Grey is a romantic story with a little X-rated material, that’s not right. Fifty Shades might be a brilliant piece of work, but I think it’s far from being a fairy tale encounter between prince Charming and young naïve nobody, who get together and live kinkily ever after.
In this book series, I read about a mentally abusive relationship (and possibly physically but what do I know, I don’t have a red room in my house . . . ), I read about a woman who thinks she’s in control when she has surrendered all of it to a guy who owns her, body and soul.
It’s not about mutual love and respect, and the guy is certainly not the man of anyone’s dream – aside from the striking gorgeous looks, the private helicopter / jet / many mansions, and of course, the lady who cooks all his meals. . .
5. If you only address your partner, who is standing an inch away from you, through your kids, that’s not right.
“Tell Dad that his music is driving me crazy and if he doesn’t lower the volume, I’ll make him eat his ipod. . . Please.”
“No, sweetheart, I cannot buy you a doll house, because Mommy spent all our money on some ugly curtains so maybe you can play with that instead.”
That kind of stuff.
I am no relationship counselor, thank the Gods for the good of the humanity!
But I think that sometimes we get caught up in layers of political correctness, attention seeking, and fairy tale illusions. These are the pollutants in our recipe.
I wonder what happened to, “Honey, you are being a prat right now.” “You are right. I’m sorry.” “It’s okay. I love you.”
No messenger to deliver the message. No winding road to go from A to B. No hiding behind the idyllic image we are projecting to the world around us. Just the basic ingredients: two people ready to listen, some love and empathy.
How do you keep a health check on your relationship? How do you teach your children to be open to listening and empathy?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Nadege Nicoll. She was born in France but now lives permanently in New Jersey with her family. Nadege also writes a daily blog for moms who need to smile at everyday life. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her website www.nadegenicoll.com.
Photo credit to the author.
It’s not often that I get riled up over things that happen in the news, especially in Canada. Yes, we have some outrageous things happening here, but for the most part, Canadian society is reasonably civilized.
However, a story that’s currently unfolding has me feeling a little sick. It is the story of Jian Ghomeshi, a popular radio show host who has just been fired amid a storm of allegations. (more…)
I’ve always had trouble knowing where to fit in. I have never known which box I was supposed to climb in or which label to stick on my forehead.
I was born in Surinam, but most of my life I have lived in the Netherlands.
My parents had a strong sense of culture and raised me accordingly.
We lived in a small town in the northern part of Holland that did not have many people of color.
Needless to say, things outside of my home were very different to things inside.
In my home there were loud voices and singing, dancing and vibrant music.
Outside of the home it felt like I needed to be ashamed of my mother’s loud voice,and I tried my best not to speak too loud.
Around my family I felt at home and liked my braids and dark skin.
Outside home, old ladies would sometimes come up to me and touch my ‘strange’ hair, and make me wish my skin wasn’t making it impossible to blend in or disappear.
There was lots of loud laughter in our home. My mother would read Anansi stories and we would laugh hysterically.
Outside of the home, I could not explain to people why any story that starts with: “Dear God, can you make everyone that laughs at someone else drop dead instantly…” is going to be a really funny one.
In Surinam culture it’s very important that children learn to respect their parents and older people. You never talk back, you never raise your voice and you always look down when you are spoken to by an adult.
At school the teacher would say: Look at me when I talk to you!
At home my parents would speak to each other and family members in Sranang tongo, their native tongue. They would speak to us in a mixture of Dutch and Surinamese, we spoke to them in Dutch. With my sisters I spoke in a mixture of Dutch and Surinamese.
At school I spoke Dutch and there were so many things I could not talk about or explain because there was no word for it in Dutch.
At birthdays, we had parties with lots of family and friends coming in from everywhere, staying for dinner and sleeping over. My mother would cook lots of food, aunts would help in the kitchen and the house was filled with all of these wonderful festive smells, and we would eat until we could eat no more.
When I was invited to a party of one of my friends, we sat in a quiet circle with mostly old family members having a polite conversation and we were given a piece of cheese with a little vlag stick (it’s a Dutch thing), everyone left before dinner and there was absolutely no music.
Growing up in these two cultures thought me how to adapt. I learned how to behave and what was expected of me in each situation. And because I was such a people pleaser, by the time I was in my teens, I could blend in anywhere and everywhere. and I knew what was expected of me. I also had lots of interest in different people.
The people I called my friends were a variety of ages, colors, cultures and mixtures and I loved every one of them.
Still, I always felt different.
I’m an adult now. I married a man whose skin color is the exact opposite of mine (no matter how much sun he gets). My children are of mixed culture. Their skin color is a mixture of ours, their hair is mixed, curly but not as curly as mine, dark but not as dark as mine.
My husband sometimes plays his (terrible) Dutch songs and I sing and dance with my children to old Surinam children’s songs. When we celebrate there’s lots of family and lots of food but no music, because my husband says he can’t have a conversation with music in the background. I teach my children to respect their parents and older people, but I also teach them that it’s okay to speak up and look people in the eye.
I mostly speak Dutch, but when emotional I turn to my native tongue, although my kids hardly understand what it is that I’m talking about.
I think here. With my own family a perfect mixture of black and white, Dutch and Surinam, east and west, I fit here.
Do you have a mixture of cultures in your family? How do you adapt?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mirjam of The Netherlands.
Photo credit to the author.
I love watching little kids discover the excitement of building blocks. Their pudgy little fingers slowly stack one brick on top of another squealing with amazement when the lopsided house they built comes tumbling down.
Kids might not realize it, but we all know that a house build on a shaky, soft or unsteady foundation will never weather the elements or the test of time. Our lives are the metaphorical houses built out of the relationships woven into them.
From our first day on this planet, are lives are all about relationships. No matter which way we turn we can’t escape them. Even when we force ourselves into seclusion we can’t escape the relationship we have with ourselves. From the moment we are born, until the day we die, we build our lives one relationship at a time. Some are loving and successful relationships, while others are draining and weaken the fabric of our self esteem and lives.
So what makes some relationships better than others? What is the one key element that is found in every single successful relationship? What is the foundation of every strong union between two people? What is the most important building block that lends strength to our very essence?
Respect. Not one sided respect. Mutual respect.
It’s a simple word that rolls easily off our tongues, sometimes even said with casual irreverence. The question is how well, if at all, do we put it into action in our day to day lives?
Think about every heated argument you’ve ever had with anyone and I can promise you that if you break it down to the basics, there was no mutual respect between the parties. Each side wanted something badly enough to not treat the other side with respect.
Treating someone with respect does not mean agreeing with them. Treating them with respect means that you can hear their point of you, you can disagree with them and still love them for the amazing person they are.
When there is respect, compromise is easy because it is coming from a place of love and appreciation, and it’s not a feeling of having given in. It’s a feeling of give and take.
So how do you put mutual respect into action. Simply put, you need to work hard at treating other people the way you want to be treated. When you treat with respect, you will be treated with respect.
What do you think is the most important building block for relationships?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our contributor, Susie Newday in Israel. You can find her on her blog New Day New Lesson.
Photo credit to the author.
After a remarkably stress-free and soul-inspiring vacation in the Olympic Peninsula, my family of four settled back into reality, which for us is defined by a combination of preschool, daycare and two working parents. I work from home on Mondays and recently incorporated my five-year old into my workday.
He has his own small desk and an assortment of colored paper, pens, markers, scissors, stamps, etc. For a little while he does okay working independently beside me. However, soon enough he is wriggling and anxious for my undivided attention.
At midday I take a couple of hours “off” to spend outdoors with my son so we can both burn off a little energy before spending the afternoon indoors. On this particular day, nothing satisfied him. Not the dozens and dozens of books in our home. Not the hundred or so Legos that he typically adores. Not the puzzles, superhero figures, plastic dinosaurs, scorpions and spiders nor the plentiful assortment of recently acquired birthday gifts.
I want a new toy!
These are boring!
All my friends have way more toys than I do!
Have I set the stage for a less than awesome afternoon? (more…)