Saturday, December 30, 2006

Question of the Week #19: Relationship Resolutions

Should auld acquaintance be ... um, better?

Happy New Year everyone! There is really only one question that makes the most sense to ask this week; I'm talking about New Years relationship resolutions.

My theory is that nobody is perfect, so striving to improve is a healthy thing for all of us. Is there someone with whom you would like to get along better in some way? What could you resolve to change about your own behavior that might improve one (or perhaps all) of your relationships? Or maybe you're not sure what specific behavior changes might help, but there is a result you'd like to achieve. If so, let us know. I'll come clean with a relationship resolution of my own next week, along with a roundup of favorites from among yours.

And as a bonus question this week, consider this: To Love, Honor, and Dismay will soon publish the 100th Dismaying Story. This is due in large part to the continuing contributions of all you Faithful Readers, for which I am constantly thankful. Do you have any ideas how we could celebrate this milestone?


  1. I guess the first place to start for me is by being more open and outgoing. I think relationships with people are strained because I don't make myself accessible enough, and I don't reach out enough. I think I need to "make friends" with all of my friends again, by investing time into those friendships.

    Further to that end, I'm always so busy trying to hide my weaknesses that nobody sees my strengths. I'm not the life of the party, but I think I'm not being myself if people perceive me as boring.

    Lastly: getting together with people more often. I don't think anything can replace the value of face-to-face encounters. You don't necessarily need to talk a lot, and maybe there will be nervous laughter or awkward pauses, but it goes a long way to just spend those precious moments in the company of a friend.

    P.S. Must also stop thinking about 'her'.

  2. I got so excited to find this page, I don't even remember HOW I found it.

    I'm in a place in my life right now where I need to make a decision about my 2 year relationship and it has been the hardest thing I've EVER had to do in terms of a relationship.

    You'll be hearing more from me!

  3. Best wishes, Andrew, for a new year filled with joy, love, good health, friendship, and enough of whatever you want and need to fulfill your deepest dreams and desires.

  4. My resolutions are to be less cranky with my husband and to thank him more.

    It's so easy to get bogged down in the everyday minutiae that I tend to forget I need to take the time to appreciate him.

  5. Hello, Andrew. I have a relationship issue. I am a forty year old woman with a husband and three small children, 10, 10 and 6 yrs old. Though my husband is a very nice man, we used to have disagreements over the division of household tasks and the issue of him and the kids being messy. We stopped having disagreements, because I gave up and just did everything myself. I see now that I shouldn't have done that, but to make a long story short, it was out of life-long habit that I did so. I have recently discovered how much I still resent the losing battle that led me to just give up like that. My husband and I have been discussing the topic recently and he is angry with me because I have resentment over that old situation. I think the only way to get rid of the resentment is to work something out now that would seem fair and reasonable to both of us. We are just beginning to talk about this and we have just started re-organizing some rooms in the house. Also, we don't have a lot of time to devote, so this will be a slow (agonizing) process. Now I see anew why it was so easy for me to just give up. My husband feels personally attacked if I desire something that he thinks is unreasonable and he also feels this way when I bring up the previous pitfalls that made me throw in the towel. If I don't bring up what went wrong before, how can we avoid the same outcome? My husband is sweet and sensitive and I don't want to hurt his feelings. We love each other very much and we both really hate arguments, but I need things to be different. The current situation is not good for me. I gave up my job to take care of things and became a homebody. After years of following my family around with a sponge, I just can't take it anymore. I'm tired, disillusioned and the house has become disorganized and it's starting to get messy. My husband does do some things now that he didn't used to do, like cook and wash the dishes and I appreciate it very much, but what I need most is for me and my husband to be able to work together to really set things right again in the house and come up with a fair plan that involves everyone. I can't seem to help complaining to him about how I got into this mess - he's the person I talk to about everything! But, still - I don't want to fight about it.

    What can I do? It seems that my choices are:
    1) forget the whole thing, suck it up, be quiet, trudge along doing the best that I can and try to find a way to be happy with it (this doesn't work for me anymore)
    2) keep working with my husband on reorganizing and talk to him about my needs and feelings around this, let him get angry and defensive, endure the arguing (which we both hate) and then hope that something good comes of it. This choice worries me because we both have baggage and I'm afraid it will all come bursting out of the closets and bury us. The baggage? He was raised and catered to by a Mrs. Cleaver type, while his father was demanding and disapproving and I was the 'Cinderella' of an extremely dysfunctional and abusive family. I have a therapist whom I like very much. He votes for talking, but he's not the one who will be heartbroken when his best friend in the whole world feels hurt, upset and angry. He won't be here when we both end up crying on the floor of a disassembled room.

    Surely there must be other choices? I would even be okay with a way to make choice #2 bearable. Do you have any ideas? I would appreciate and consider any input. Thank you for your time.

  6. Andrew, hope your Christmas was brilliant. I wish you a happy and fulfilling New Year!

    Funny you should ask about relationship resolutions..... I made an early resolution back in late 2006 after reading one of your posts (the one where a lady complained about her grumpy 'passive aggressive', 'uncommunicative' husband). You advised her that to try to open up communication, she should try giving unqualified apologies when she was in the wrong (even if she could merely find a small truth in the criticism of her partner). No excuses, rationalisation, justifications. Your advice to this lady made me realise (with dismay)that I rarely give that kind of an apology. I am trying to do better. I have made some progress, I think, although you might have to ask my husband as well!

    Your blog is always interesting to me, but just now and then it really opens my eyes. Thank you for sharing your sensible, practical advice with the world.

  7. Shan: It sounds like you are being very open and honest with yourself. Good for you! Keep that up and only good things will result.

    Kiyotoe: Welcome! I look forward to hearing from you.

    Daisy: Thank you so much! May the same and more come true for you and yours.

    SQT: That sounds like a wonderful, life-giving objective ... and I bet many of us would benefit from trying to do the same.

    Lynn: I definitely will be able to offer some thoughts on your issue. Let me put that in the queue and work on it. I'll let you know when it appears as a Dismaying Story.

    Jellyhead: Thank you for the kind words and good wishes. I hope your New Year is wonderful as well. Those kinds of apologies are tough, especially when you are just starting to try to give them. It can feel like you are giving up the farm, letting him win, taking all the blame when in fact it takes two to tango. That's not the case. What you are doing is being the hero, the big person who is willing to open the communication in a positive rather than negative fashion, which usually allows your partner to respond in kind. Good for you for making that effort! Here's hoping you continue to achieve results toward your goal. And thanks again for all your continuing contributions.

  8. A new year, a great time to start over or re-start anything.

  9. Thank you, Andrew. I read your question in my comments. It would be fine with me if you included other issues in your response. Thank you again for your time.

  10. happy new years my friend! hope yours is as great as the people you have helped - including me...

    my new years resolution is to be loving to myself...and then just relax and let others (family and friends) love me...

    thanks for all your help!!