Friday, July 15, 2011

I Thought Killing Me Softly Was a Song Title?

Hello Everyone! Welcome to the second round of guest posting brought to you by the Life List Club. The Life List Club is for writers and readers to connect with each other by supporting one another in their goals, whatever they may be! You can check out Jennie's Life List at the top of her page, and read more Life Lists by following the bloggers in the Life List Blogroll on the sidebar.

I have a quote on the wall above my desk, conveniently located right above my time-sucking, selfish computer. It's a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnemese Buddhist monk, poet, and peace activist. The quote says:

“If you do not give right attention to the one you love, it is a kind of killing.

When you are in the car together, if you are lost in your thoughts,

assuming you already know everything about her, she will slowly die.”

Those words have always stood out to me. The advice may be simple, but it's the hardest thing to do in a relationship isn't it, devote your time to truly listening to someone? Our lives are full of many things: work demands, kiddie carpools, grocery lists, plants to water, friends to catch up with, birthday cards to remember, and before we know it we're shampooing our hair twice in the morning. You do do that too, right?

One of the things on my Life List was to work on being a better partner. I'm currently in the midst of a job title change and the new position has me putting in extra hours, and with writing becoming a focus in my life again, it's not exactly a hobby that allows me more free time to talk. All week long I have stared at that quote, asking myself how have I made it a point to learn about my partner this week? Sure I know his work schedule, I know what foods he likes and doesn't like, and I know he took karate as a kid (he likes to pretend he's still a black belt), but there's always more. I'm truly fortunate to have someone that understands the demands of a writer's life, and a sales manager for that matter. Whether we have multiple paychecks coming in or not, a lot of us work at more than one job. It's easy to take for granted the supportive members of our family that keep us up and running. Thanks again for washing the sheets and packing me lunch, honey!

The first step I took was planning time to spend together. You might be saying, well duh, Jess! but as a mid twentysomething, that notion is new to me. College life was all about last minute decisions and late nights eating coffee grounds to stay awake (I only did that once!) A few years out of school now has drastically changed my schedule, and added new responsibilities. Forgive me for thinking it, but I thought planning my date nights wasn't something to worry about until our 40's. I sincerely apologize. Carving out some time during the days, or planning one day out of the week to spend with each other has been crucial, and one of the best things I could've done. It doesn't have to be fancy candlelit dinners. Lately it's been making dinner together and enjoying it outside in the backyard playing zydeco music I bought in New Orleans a few weeks ago. We're just talking. We're learning about each other, investing time in the things that are important to each of us. Another example is reading together. Pardon my crass, but men who read are sexy. Don't you agree?

I'm no expert in relationships. I know there are stressors and to do lists that seem like they'll never end, but it's something I want to work on. Be a better partner. The time we have together is often limited, so I want those moments to count. I can only control my actions and behaviors, so it's up to me to be an active listener, to show my partner I want to be a witness to the important, and not so important, moments of his life. If he can be excited about my obnoxious talents of quoting entire movie dialogues, then I can agree he does still have a black belt in karate. After all, “It's not like they take it away! What?! You wanna fight? I bet I could take you. I believe you, honey, but how about you take me dancing instead?

What advice do you have for being a better partner? How do you make time to spend with each other? What have you learned along the way that's helped either your current relationship or the one that came next? Do you agree with Thich Nhat Hanh's words?

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Jess Witkins claims the title Perseverance Expert. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town as the much younger youngest sibling of four, she’s witnessed the paranormal, jumped out of a plane, worked in retail, traveled to exotic locations like Italy, Ireland, and Shipshewana, Indiana, and she’s eaten bologna and lived to tell about it! She deals with it all and writes about it! Come along on her midwest adventures; Witkins promises to keep it honest and entertaining.

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