How to fight.

Any one who’s been in a relationship longer than five minutes knows that you will inevitably have an argument at some point. I mean of course you will because you are expecting two people to come together and share their lives together, two people who come from completely different backgrounds, have different relationship role models and have different personalities, it’s a wonder any relationships make it at all!

Yes, you’re going to fight, but how are you doing it, and is your style of fighting a help or hindrance in your relationship.  Here’s a few things to think about before that little petty, nagging argument turns into WW3.

Agree that fighting is normal and a sign of a healthy relationship.  If you didn’t fight it meant that you didn’t care enough about your relationship, and it’s completely normal to disagree, but it’s how you argue that’s going to make or break your bond.

Don’t go for the low blow.  Don’t resort to name calling or playing on your partners insecurities, it’s not cool, and it’s not really going to do anything in helping you resolve the issue your arguing about.  This is the person that you love, do you really want to hurt them like that?

Be honest.  Don’t say what you think your partner wants to hear, instead of what you actually think.

Don’t read your partners mind.  You don’t always know what’s going on in the other person’s head, and it can be a dangerous game to assume.

Take responsibility for your own part.  Successful partnerships require both partners to take ownership of their own stuff, their mistakes, assumptions, and not blame everything on the other person.  As the saying goes “It takes two to tango!”

Don’t run from the fight.  It’s definitely easy to walk away from a fight, and bury your head in the sand and pretend that everything’s hunky dory but … it won’t go away, it will continue to show up in your relationship over and over again, until you deal with it.

Don’t fight when you are hungry (hangry) or tired or distracted. These three scenarios are the perfect storm for a fight to escalate to the next level, and sometimes the very reason that could be arguing in the first place is that you are hangry, tired or distracted.

Acknowledge the other’s feelings and point of view.  Just because you acknowledge the other’s feelings, doesn’t mean that you are agreeing with them.  All anyone wants in an argument is to know that what they are saying and feeling is being heard by the other person.

Fight about one thing at a time.  It’s so easy to go from fighting about spending money to move on to why the other person is never home, to how they don’t pull their weight around the house to how they always leave the toilet seat up.  You need to stay on track and if you go off on a tangent then rein it in back to the original issue you started with.

Don’t text fight. Or email or DM or any of today’s modern ways of communicating. Texting is possibly the easiest way in the world to misconstrue the meaning behind a message, because there are no facial expressions, or tone of voice to help frame a message. Keep it to face to face or phone.

Take turns talking, and let the person finish what they want to say before you start talking.  Listening with out interrupting or mentally thinking about your response is one of the hardest skills to master, but one of the most important.  Each person needs to have the opportunity to state their case.

Ultimately you need to remember that it’s completely normal and even healthy to argue, it means that you are passionate about your relationship, and feel safe and secure enough to share how you feel with your partner.  One thing that sticks in my mind is the thought that in the big picture we are a team, and that we both need to feel happy, fulfilled and content with our relationship.

Love is …

All you need is love and… well that’s all really.

 

This past weekend I was sick, and not the pretty girl kind of sick, but the horrendous ‘wish I was dead’ kind of sick, you know the one, like the hangover but without the fun times before hand. So my darling husband had to take care of me, and by take care of me I mean clean out ‘the bucket’ and it got me to thinking ‘if this ain’t love then I don’t know what is”.

Now I’m a Disney/rom-com kinda girl, and love a good happily ever after story with the best of them, but I think love is so much more than the extravagant flowers and choccies and love hearts that are portrayed in those movies, so I came up with a list of things that I think love is.

Love is:

A cup of tea in bed

Saying ‘thank you, I appreciate the job you do”

Knowing your coffee order

Eating the tomatoes off your plate at the cafe, because they know you don’t like them, before you have to ask

Holding hands

Facing the world together

Knowing they have your back

Agreeing to disagree

Pushing you forward, when they can see your potential, even when you can’t

Standing back sometimes to let you shine

Kissing you first thing in the morning, even when you have morning breath

Cold feet on warm legs in bed

Putting the heat pump on before you get up in the morning

Preparing a meal for you

Knowing when you need to be big spoon, and when you need to be little spoon

Making sure you have clean clothes for work the next day

Getting up each morning in the freezing cold to go to a job to support their family

Rolling eyes with you over the heads of your mini army you have both created, when you really want to laugh but can’t

Having secret code words

Listening

Saying ‘Yip, I agree there is a problem, let’s sort it out’

Forehead kisses

Taking the screaming baby from your outstretched arms the minute they walk in the door from work, and you not needing to say a word

Showing up, always

Honesty

Choosing love, over and over again

Giving up the right to be right, sometimes

Apologising

Bear hugs

Knowing that a family is not always blood, but loving everyone as though they are anyway

Wanting you to be happy

Questioning you and holding you to account when the need arises

Those 4am conversations

“What can I do to help?”

Letting you be yourself

Hard work, but so worth it

Laughing together

Holding your hair, rubbing your back and telling you ‘it will all be ok’

Loving you when you aren’t being very lovable

Being open-minded and able to change your mind/opinion

Being your ‘soft place’ in the hard world

Seeing you at your worst and still choosing you

Being your constant cheerleader

Knowing when you need space and quiet

Knowing the difference between laughing with you and laughing at you

Eating salad and pretending to enjoy it, when you really want a steak

Picking you up when you don’t think you can

Admitting when you don’t know

Wanting to share a future with you

Knowing that everyone has a past, accepting it and moving on

Sitting together in silence and being quite content

Loving all of you, the quiet, the loud, the crazy

Standing together, looking at the beautiful sleeping little person you’ve made, and smiling

Of course there is a miles and mile of others to add to the list, and we should not forget there are also all the big things, like love hearts, and fireworks and that feeling you get in your tummy when they’re around, but I believe that love is found in all the little things too.

Love hard.

 

When to say no, when to compromise and when to go with the flow.

All you need is love and …to learn when to say no, when to compromise and when to go with the flow.

When I sat down to research and write this piece, it became apparent to me that the principles for the successful navigation of the wedding planning process and  successfully navigating marriage are quite similar. Although I have yet to find a need for a seating chart in my marriage, and 17 years in I don’t think there will ever be a need for one, so in that respect they are different. So while you are reading this piece, be mindful that you can take some of the advice and apply it to marriage as well as wedding planning.

Wedding planning is hard, this we know. In fact if anyone says to you “Oh I loved every minute of planning my wedding, it was all so much fun” they are lying. They are a big fat liar McLiarsons.

With my experience in the wedding industry, and the many articles I’ve read, blog posts I’ve perused and Facebook rants I’ve been privy to, the number one issue couples (well let’s be honest, mostly brides) have is every man and his dog seems to have an opinion on how you should plan your wedding.

So with that in mind I’ve put together some tips for how to handle those sticky situations and those well-meaning friends and family (who we know only want to help) during the wedding planning process.

Come up with a budget, and stick to it – When you first start planning your wedding, you need to sit down together and have a conversation about money (I know boring as hell, but so important) You both need to decide on how much you can realistically spend on your wedding day, and what type of wedding you want. Is it going to be all out, over the top, dream wedding, or maybe something a little more scaled back? This will help you make all the big decisions (venue, photographer etc) when you know exactly how much you’ve got to spend on each element. Having a set budget means that you also have a good excuse to say ‘no’ to suggestions “Sorry I really can’t incorporate those swans  you really want into the wedding Great Aunty Fanny. I can’t afford it!” Soz not soz!

Make sure you’re both on the same page – Make sure you both converse about what’s important to you for the big day. Are there some non-negotiable items that you must have or that are priorities to you? For example, he may be a big fan of a particular type of car and really want those as the wedding cars, where you couldn’t care less what type of cars you arrive in. So you budget for those cars, and if someone offers their opinion on another type of car, you can say ‘no’. If you are both on the same page you will be in a better position  when people start questioning or offering their opinions. You will know exactly what the other person thinks and wants and can stick together.

Make sure your partner will back you up – Weddings and wedding planning can bring out the worst in people. A lot of people in your lives will have set opinions, whether solicited or not, on your wedding plans. If you’ve already had the discussion about the budget and your priorities, then you’re in good shape.  You also need to know that your partner will back you up if/when you have to say ‘no’ to a suggestion. Also be aware that some people will go for  the “divide and conquer” technique, where they will offer their suggestion on you first and if you say ‘no’ then they will try your partner. But once again if you both know the plan and know that you both  have each other’s back then you’ll come out on top.

Stick up for what’s important to you – It’s your wedding day, you get to do it your way. If there is something that you really want (priorities and non-negotiable items) and someone questions your decision then make sure you stick up for what’s important.  You don’t want to look back on your wedding day with regret on something that you gave up to keep someone else happy.

Don’t be emotionally black-mailed, especially by family – Split families can be  a hotbed for emotional blackmail (the whole if he’s coming then I’m not type of childish behaviour, can rear it’s ugly head) Make sure all your family members know that you will not be held to ransom on your wedding day. Remind them that it is your day, and that they need to ‘pull their heads in’ and if they can’t then maybe they should not come.  You’ll find nine times out of ten, they will start behaving. No-one wants to miss a wedding.

Every-ones on the same page – If your parents or other relatives are financially contributing to the wedding then you need to have discussions at the beginning with them all about your plans. There can be times when their money will come with strings attached ( an example: if they are paying for flowers, then they want to pick the flowers) and if you’re all good with that, then great, if not then you need to discuss and come to a compromise. I know, maybe easier said than done, just make sure they know how much you appreciate their contribution, but, that you have your hearts set on your plans. And if they still won’t play ball, then you need to decide if the money they are contributing is  worth all the hassle.

What can you let go of – There may be times where you just need to let go of some of the control or your expectations and go with some-one else’s idea to keep the peace. But only if it’s something that is not one of your priorities. For example one bride let her mother in law choose and order the wedding favours, because it kept her involved (and happy) and it wasn’t really a priority for the bride. Win, win I say!

Remember what’s important -You love each other. You  are choosing to share your love story and commitment with your friends and family on your special day.

 

How to travel together without killing each other!

All you need is love and … some advice for travelling together.

They (I’m not sure who ‘they’ are but you know who I mean) think there are certain things that you should do as a couple before you get married to test whether this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.  The list includes using a slow internet connection, untangling Christmas tree lights, putting together flat pack furniture and travel.

I’m a huge fan of travel, whether it’s just a weekend away some where close or a huge overseas blow out, I’m in, all in, every time!  Travelling has a way of broadening your mind I know it’s cliche but it’s so true. It allows you to see how others live, different cultures, landscapes and people. It also has the ability to show you so many more sides to your mate. So along with a heck of a lot of reading on the topic and my travel experiences with my darling husband, I’m come up with some thoughts and advice on travelling with your partner.

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New Zealand to Hong Kong  March 2016 Yay!!

You will learn so much more about your partner – Travelling takes you out of your comfort zone, both as an individual and as a couple. It opens your eyes up to the world around you.  It forces you to engage with other cultures, foods and etiquette. All of which may be scary, and new and different, and exciting and tiring and fun. It has the ability to show you how your partner deals with frustration and being tired and hungry.

One of the biggest challenges will be spending all of your time together – My husband and I are not the type of people who need to spend every minute together, in fact we start getting on each others nerves after a long weekend together.  It has taken us a long, long time of both marriage and travelling together to figure this out about ourselves and to know that it’s OK.  We make sure we have some down-time (alone time) when we travel, some-times it’s just having a few hours of time apart to wander around, or even if it’s just putting the headphones on and reading a magazine in another room.  It stops us from annoying each other, and it absolutely works for us.

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Hong Kong to Beijing, China.

Compromise – Like relationships full stop, travel requires compromise.  It requires knowing what each other wants to do and not do and then making a decision and itinerary based on making sure you both get a bit of what you want. Example, just over 10 years ago (before our son was born) we planned a 5 week overseas trip (both of us had regrets over not having done our OE when we were younger, so decided to go for it together, before we started a family) we each had a list of places we wanted to visit on our trip, so we had to compromise and make decisions so each of us got what we wanted.

Communication – Keeping the lines of communication open when travelling is essential.  You need to voice your opinion, you need to be able to say when you’re not happy, talk it through and then let it go, otherwise it’s going to be a long, long trip.

Manage expectations – Take some time before your trip to talk about your expectations for the trip.  How do you see yourselves spending your time, are you going to be up at the crack of dawn, and going all day, or are you going to be lounging by the pool all day?

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Cruising the river in Vietnam.

Budget – The dreaded B word. What are you willing to splurge on, and what are you happy to save on. Do you want 5 star hotel rooms, but eat cheap street food, or do you want to spend the dollars doing all the tourist things, or just wander around town and soak up the (free) atmosphere.

Each others schedules – Are you an early riser and he prefers to sleep in? Then you’re going to have some trouble and arguments, unless you have a conversation about it and manage your schedules.  This is where that magic word “compromise” comes into play, and managing your expectations.

Eat before you get “hangry” – I think this advice has the potential to save many a relationship in any situation, not just travel.

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Great Wall of China ticked off the bucket list.

Travelling together will definitely strengthen your relationship, it will help you to accept each other as you are warts and all (and you will probably see all the warts, and dodgy tummies and stinky feet, when you travel together). You will get an insight into your partners ‘preparation style’ my husband and I have completely different ‘preparation styles’ when it comes to travel, I pack about 2 weeks ahead of time and think of every possible scenario I will need to pack for, and probably pack too much, he on the other hand packs about 2 hours before we leave, by just randomly throwing things into the suitcase, and then forgetting essentials, which we inevitably  end up having to buy while overseas, which may not sound that bad, until you are scouring the streets of Hong Kong for deodrant (tip – it’s very, very hard to find)

The more you travel together the more of a team/unit you will become, you will become more efficient together, and learn which of you is better at holding the passports and who can read maps better. I always hold the passports and tickets and he deals with the suitcases.

Travelling together allows you to create fantastic life-long memories together.  And you’ll have so many of those “Remember when we saw that thing in that place” conversations (that is actually how we start a lot of your conversations, but they may be more about old age than anything else)

There’s nothing quite like experiencing a new place with a loved one.