|Be a happy couple this year (REX)|
We’re suckers when it comes to rules, especially any that apply to our relationships.
Rules appear to offer a one-size-fits-all magic formula. Follow them and everything will be OK.
Why suffer the guilt and pressure of personal decision-taking when it comes to enhancing your love life when you can open up the rule book and put a few well-tried adages into practise instead?
But are our relationships really so simple and straightforward that a few corny old sayings will sort out every dilemma?
Surely rules are made to be broken? Here are a few famous clichés just begging to be smashed in the New Year...
1. NEVER GO TO SLEEP ON AN ARGUMENT
Yes, why spoil the fun of a row by taking time out to nap? Surely the only point of always making up before bedtime is in case the love of your life croaks in the night before you got a chance to say ‘sorry’ for bitching about his/her habit of leaving toenail cuttings on the bread board?
How huge must the row be before this rule becomes impossible to adhere to? If your spat is over the fact that he has just had sex with your best friend is it still wise to kiss and make up before you get the cocoa on?
How much better to decide to avoid rows over trivia in the first place, because these are the only ones you’d ever need to shake hands on before climbing under the duvet? Real rows, the inevitable and justifiable ones, should never suffer under a fake deadline or one of you will go to bed fuming while the other feels they have just been absolved for good.
Plus it might be wiser to get off to bed mid-rant to allow yourself to calm down and think logically and strategically rather than accelerating things to a point where you are mocking his sexual techniques and slagging off his entire family just because you’re in a bit of a mood.
2. TO KEEP A MAN YOU MUST BE A MAID IN THE LIVING ROOM, A COOK IN THE KITCHEN AND A WHORE IN THE BEDROOM
This ‘rule’ came to us via Jerry Hall (quoting her mother), and as things with Mick went downhill years ago it’s probably time we packed that maid’s outfit away for good and stopped the habit of presenting our blokes with a ‘bill’ at the end of the mind-blowing sex
Of course it is important to put some effort into a relationship, but all effort should be mutual and when it’s not there needs to be a rule about the benefits of assertive dialogues to kick-start your partner into pulling up his or her socks.
Perhaps a better relationship rule would be: ‘Never take relationship advice from a celebrity’. Their marriages tend to be measured in hours rather than years.
3. TREAT THEM MEAN TO KEEP THEM KEEN
If being anything from off-hand to downright nasty to someone encourages them to want to spend more time with you and develop a meaningful relationship then you do need to question your lover as well as yourself.
Exactly why are they enjoying your meanness? What is the big flaw in their psyche that makes them drawn to it like a moth to a flame? And what will happen if you forget your ‘rule’ and are accidentally kind to them in future?
In terms of behavioural analysis your meanness will only really be compatible long-term with a more submissive personality. If that’s what you want then fine but if you’re hoping to use it to tame a stronger, more dominant type then remember the compatibility of that change might just be temporary.
4. KEEPING THEM HAPPY IN BED WILL STOP THEM STRAYING
An exhaustive and exhausting approach to sex should ensure your partner never needs to go looking for it anywhere else, or at least this is what this ‘rule’ seems to imply.
But how do you know that keeping them busy in bed is the same thing as keeping them happy? And surely it would be more comforting to think your relationship is based on a balance that involves emotional commitment as much as relentless duvet-action? Plus it has to be said that there are some people who will stray no matter how good sex is at home. The accompanying cliché to this rule is all about people who have fillet steak at home won’t go out looking for hamburgers but that is patently untrue.
Good sex is clearly a bonus in any relationship but when you believe it is vital to prevent your partner from looking elsewhere you’re probably not in a warm, relaxing and trust-fuelled marriage. Have sex because you both enjoy it, not because it creates some kind of physical leash.
5. ALWAYS TALK THROUGH ALL PROBLEMS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Ok, so this rule does have the tinkle of truth about it but not if you take it too literally. It is never a good thing when problems become so bad in a relationship that communications cease. It is also corrosive to suppress your upset or irritation via sulking or silences that convert to resentment and passive-aggressive outbursts.
However, constant verbal nit-picking and analysing everything can be emotionally exhausting and the phrase ‘We need to talk’ sounds doom-laden in any context. Not every problem gets better when it is discussed. Sometimes a discussion can bring things to a head that might have resolved themselves if someone had decided to let it drop. And some problems might never change, no matter how much you discuss them, like leaving the loo seat up or spending too much in the sales. A good talk can be cathartic but that is not guaranteed.
6. BE HONEST. TRUST IS VITAL.
Honesty, who can fault it? And how many times do you hear the phrase ‘It’s not what you did; it’s the fact that you lied.’? Trust is important in a relationship but there is honesty and there is tact and discretion. Projectile honesty can endanger a relationship because there are times when we speak our mind when silence or even a ‘holding’ lie might be better.
If your partner has spent a long time getting ready you might decide to ditch the honesty for flattery if you know it will boost their self-esteem and make them smile. Ditto their work skills and ditto your opinion of their irritating relatives. Many relationships are formed on colluded lies. A woman might tell her guy that he is the handsomest man she has ever seen and although that is probably untrue the sentiment is real and enjoyed for what it is