I am 61 years old – likely not the traditional HelloGiggles demographic – and yet since it’s the destination for “smart, independent and creative females”, I strangely feel right at home. I’m a mother of three, grandmother of six and most recently author of my first book. And with that I say a warm and hearty, “Hello, Giggles! It’s so very nice to meet you.”
Now, listen up.
This is the time of year when the barrage of chocolates, candy hearts and red roses attacks us at every possible turn – from the supermarket to Facebook status updates. Just as many of us are still recovering from the holidays and trying to get back into the jeans that fit comfortably at the beginning of November, Valentine’s Day has been patiently waiting for you to get on the l-o-v-e train. The word “love” is thrown out innocuously simply because we’re told this is the one day we have to ramp it up. Being with “the one” is a topic nearly impossible to avoid.
I have been married to the same man for 44 years and I’ve learned quite a lot about love and relationships. Married or single, gay or straight, if you’re wondering how to navigate the often rocky waters of relationships – listen to your mama and consider the following:
Don’t go to bed mad. This is really more of a logistical tip than anything else, because the reality is that you won’t sleep well, but he probably will. And what’s the fun in that? So kiss and make up – or at the very least don’t let the last emotion you feel before you close your eyes be anger.
Be a good listener, even if you don’t like the subject. Sure, we’ve all had moments where we feel like turning up the TV louder so we can finish watching Revenge. But at the end of the day, what most of us want is to know that someone has heard us. Besides, what he has to say may come in handy at some point. Wikipedia has nothing on my memory.
I hate to say it, but the cliché is true: “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Make a special dinner, but give yourself enough time for mistakes. If it doesn’t turn out, go ahead and throw it away. Pick up take-out and put it in your own dish. Here’s the kicker: Be sure to wear something extra cute and he won’t notice if you made it or not. Trust me on this. Hey, I’m not a good cook—but you do what you have to do.
If you want a relationship to last, you have to really work at it. Living with someone isn’t always easy, but if you’re in love you do what it takes to make it work. My husband and I have our moments and you will too, but I think that if you love him or her enough to make a commitment, then you should give it 100%. I have taken many rides or walks simply to cool down before an argument escalates further, even if I was certain that I was right. I usually return calmer, with a much better sense of clarity and perspective than I did in the heat of the moment. Remember, there are only two emotions to act from: fear and love. It’s your choice.
Money seems to be what most couples argue about and, besides infidelity, is what ruins most relationships. Don’t let it ruin yours. Don’t be afraid to talk about it with your partner. Your Net-A-Porter is not worth destroying a relationship over.
Most importantly, remember to have fun together. Do something really silly. One Halloween I wore my raincoat with nothing on underneath and rang the doorbell to my house. My husband came to the door thinking it was a trick or treater. (We were much younger then.) When he opened it, I yelled, “Trick or treat!” and flashed him. He was so shocked he slammed the door and ran up the stairs. A few minutes later, he came back down and let me in, thankfully before any of my neighbors saw me. He got his treat and I gave the trick. We still laugh about this even to this day. Writer’s note: My kids are most likely vomiting at this point and I’m praying that my grandchildren aren’t reading.
One of my favorite quotes is from JoHan Neale Hunter. “Love doesn’t dominate, it cultivates.” We nurture those we love, care about them, are kind to them; and by doing so, the person about whom we care about learns to be a better person. Life around them gets better; they in turn pass it on those around them. By not dominating and just being kind to one another, I think the world could be a lot better. If you’re in a relationship where you’re dominated, it isn’t love and it’s time to head for the door.
On this Valentine’s Day, I’m sending each one of you a huge amount of love.
Young couple on beach image via ShutterStock