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?


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.


Lyn Midnight said...

Awesome post (and quote). :) Honestly, I haven't the faintest clue about being a good partner. I don't even know why I'm commenting. :P

Oh yeah. I do not do the shampoo thing but I definitely do the quote thing. We all have our quirks and it's about tolerating each other and loving each other for things others won't love so much alike.

Sweet. Now I have all these thoughts in my head. Oh well. I suppose I had to vent. Thanks, Jess and Jen. (Ha, your names sound good together, lol. Just sayin'.)

Krista said...

Love the quote and the sentiment. Every now and the I put away my writing and blogging and go find my husband. I ask if he is feeling ignored. He is so supportive and appreciates my checking in with. So far no issues. But I think it is better to avoid problems then to fix them :)

J. A. Bennett said...

@Violeta Lol! You're right. I should tell you that my brother's name is Jeff so we we're often poked fun at for the same thing.

@Jess you make so many good points, especially about scheduling time together. When you live with someone, and are used to them, life can really get in the way of relationship building. Great post!

Toyin O. said...

I guess when you are in a committed relationship, you should have your priority straight and find ways to keep your love alive. Very nice quote and post; thanks for sharing.

Margo Berendsen said...

What an amazing post! I love that quote... I love your ideas for spending more time together. Makes me want to start playing zydeco music.

Marcia Richards said...

Jess, I always love your posts! I thank my husband for every little thing he does so he feels appreciated...and he does so much! We take some time late in the evening to catch up on the day's events, etc. With the two kids here, our Friday night dates are on hold. We don't really mind, we play with the kids together instead.

jesswords10 said...

Violeta, my honey's name is Joe, so we're Jess and Joe all the time. I guess J's are popular letters. :)

Krista, that's a great idea too. I do check on him and try to give updates on where I'm at so he doesn't think I'm just wasting time on twitter...eep.

Jennie, Thanks again for letting me take over your blog for the day. You are always so uplifting and I appreciate those that think positively.

Toyin, thanks for taking time to comment! It is important to have your priorities straight, and also to understand the ones of our partners. That's what makes the partnership work.

Margo, you should absolutely play zydeco music with your honey!

Marcia, I love that you made date night happen by spending time with the grandgirls. That's just as intimate and wonderful.

catierhodes said...

I've been married for half my life. (Don't ask.) Things I've learned:

1. Let your partner do things that make no sense. A little tolerance goes a long way. No matter how stupid it sounds, it appeals to him for some reason. Smile, nod, and say something nice.

2. No matter how bad your day was, smile when you see him at the end of it. Say nice things and keep smiling. It sets a good mood for the evening.

3. Say I love you often. What if you never get another chance?

Good post.

Julie said...

Oh, this is SUCH a good post... and a reminder to me of what is ultimately the most important thing in the world to me: my hubbs.

With crazy hectic schedules (both of us) planning time together is SO important. If we don't, it gets pushed aside for other "more important" things (just like you mentioned).

Its important not to let that time get overwhelmed with negativity, though. I've noticed that sometimes we just want to vent about how horrible our day was, so hubbs and I never get to hear all the wonderful things happening in each other's lives. Recently, we've made it a goal to "Say five awesome things about your day" before we're allowed to launch into our bad-day venting! Its helped a lot, especially knowing that the time spent apart is not all wasted on bad, bad stuff! We have fun too! ( :

Loved this post, thanks for sharing!

Sonia G Medeiros said...

Great post! It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day stuff. Hubby and I both get so busy. But we do reconnect, sometimes over silly little things. We love trading movie lines and just telling each other silly things. We're both a couple of goofballs. I think that's a big reason why we married each other...we each get the other's dorkiness. :D

jesswords10 said...

Catie, great advice. I don't always follow this the best. I'll try to allow more ideas to come to fruition before I tell him I think it's stupid. I mean that, though. Trying things our way is important.

Julie, I love the 5 awesome things. I do that in my journal, write 5 things I'm grateful for. We should try this as a couple's fantastic five. I agree venting can make for a bad mood over the whole night.

Sonia, love the movie line quoting! We do that. Lots of Spaceballs, Princess Bride, Strange Wilderness, and Anchorman is quoted around here. That's the fun stuff right there. I will commit to more of that!

Nisa said...

I think that's a great goal and it seems there's always something more to work on. You can always be closer to your spouse/partner, always be kinder, always be something... I guess my best advice is just to always think of them. Revel in your memories and be grateful for them. When you're grateful for something or someone it makes it a lot harder to complain and be unhappy. There's just no room for that.

Pam said...

Great post! What I've learned about relationships (after a failed marriage and 5 years into my second living-together partnership) is pretty much what you say here. You have to plan time to spend together. Explore each other's interests and find common ground. For me and Lee, that common ground is football, the gym and just hanging together at the pool. Then give each other time for your 'individual' activities too, and don't let the little resentments build up. We try to have checkpoints to make sure one of us doesn't feel like they're carrying the brunt of life's chores and adjust accordingly, so that each have a fair amount of time for ourselves and our relationship. Oh, and I've never done the double shampoo, but I DID double-condition once instead of using the shampoo and the conditioner. I think that counts : ).

Emily Moir said...

I'll go ahead and be the shallow one who only comments that yes, men who read are sexy :) In all seriousness, great advice.

Pk Hrezo said...

Nice to meet you! Wow those are some powerful words. And how true it is! I've a bad habit of messing with my smartphone in the car with Hubby and he always makes a comment. I'm trying to correct that. :)

Kelley said...

I don't have much to add that hasn't been said, but I <3 the quote that you began with!