Call me old-fashioned. Because that may be the reason I just don't get all of this "it's so hard to find true love" talk that swirls at this time of year. Books, articles, Valentine's Day haters, bitter singles--it seems everyone spends today pontificating on the elusive, indefinable, different-for-everyone state of true and lasting love. The divorce rate is off the charts.
What's the answer? Are there just no more perfect mates out there anymore? Are all the good ones truly taken?
I say no. In fact, if everyone would read and follow this blog entry, there'd be a lot more perfect mates out there. That's because I've got the fix for everyone. Call it the Atkins Diet for love. Three simple rules.
1) Always be respectful of your partner. Treating someone with respect, even when you're mad at them or disagree with them or are frustrated with them, is not easy. OK, it actually stinks. Because you're forcing yourself to argue without being petty, mean, spiteful or cruel. But here's the thing. By working hard to do it anyway, you are being a better person. This argument will soon end, but your relationship will continue. Your partner will probably forget all about the argument down the road, but will remember how you treated them. Make that a good memory.
2) Give more than half. Keeping score of whose turn it is to scrub the toilets, who needs to apologize and who washed the dishes last time is a crumy way to live. Maybe if you're living with a slacker college roommate, it needs to be addressed. If that's the case, use a job chart. As for love, think of it this way: if you were alone you'd have to do these things all the time by yourself. So if you had to wash the dishes four times this week and your partner only did it three times, that's still three times less for you. Be appreciative. If you disagreed during an argument, chances are you both have room for improvement. Apologize. Maybe you did more laundry this week, but your mate took out the trash and cleaned up the dog vomit. Say thank you. And then let it go.
3) Don't hold grudges. Holding grudges is like going to bed without brushing your teeth. The yuck seeps down inside and starts doing damage. The longer it's in there, the more unhealthy you become. Did you know that tooth decay can kill you? In the same slow, painful way, grudges and resentment can kill a relationship. Take the high road. When the issue is resolved, leave the past in the past. You'll both be better for it.
That's it. Three rules. What could be easier? But, like love, by following these rules, you give a little but reap so much more. Kindness begets kindness. Being respectful inspires respect.
Life is hard. That's why it's so great to have a partner to help you through it. If you can let the little, petty things go, all that's left are the big things that keep us together.
And, as that Little Rascal Alfalfa once said oh-so-poignantly, that's what love is all about.