Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sew Sweet

What do happy couples do?

I'm not ever fully sure, but I think I saw yet another glimpse of it last week, and in my basement no less. (multicolor thread image from thecraftysister.files)

While I typically don't like to make the happy couples blog a feature about me and my pal (the two middle-aged, midwesterners going on 21 years of a mundane but happy marriage), I can't stop thinking about this little moment last week, one which reveals what I think is a tiny yet grand part of the happy couple equation, at least for us.

While I was doing something I LOVE to do -- sew and design vintage-inspired clothing -- while preparing for a big event being held at our university (for some reason they invited me to be the emcee as we announced a $515 million capital campaign success - oh, wow!), my sweet spouse was spied out of the corner of my eye observing my late-night and early-morning stitching, cutting, ripping of seams, steaming, pressing, re-stitching and fitting.

"Watching you sew makes me happy" he said.

Wow. I didn't know that. Or, actually, I think I did. Did I?

I guess I did, as I thought about it, because what typically makes me happy is what makes him happy. And vise versa (him: jiggin' for walleye & hangin' with his dad and mine).  But I guess I sort of forgot. Yet I didn't and I do always know as much deep down. But even so, it was his verbal acknowledgement-of-admiration that reminded me, as well as built and warmed me up, last week ... and is still well into this one.

What if we all had such a command of how to "amplify the other," the beautiful words of Dr. Tom Faase, our late friend and mentor featured in a blog post once upon a time here at WHCD?

Magic, I say. In my case, sew very magical: that my spouse adores my favorite hobby and seeing me practicing it! [Photo of the finished product, under the bright stage lights, here]:

photo by University of St. Thomas photographers

Sew (so!), here's the question for you: Might you shift your thinking (and your language) toward appreciating and acknowledging something your sweet partner or even friend does, loves or appreciates ... just because it is indeed what she/he does, loves or appreciates? And you must do so for no other reason than it is what it is, and nothing more or less. That kind of simplicity, indeed, is what's magical about being in a relationship.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ridiculous. Or Not? That's not the POINT.

As a marriage researcher as well as communication professor, I'm forever attempting to keep up with the latest research, as well as cultural conversations about my two favorite topics. Yes, you know them: "Happy" and "Couple!" No big news there, I know.

Some of the most intriguing articles I find are those posted by the CCF (Council on Contemporary Families) from major news outlets around the country. They highlight the research and thinking of the best couple/family/marriage scholars in the world, citing CCF-members' work, scholarship and smart (almost always) thoughts about all-things family and relationships.

Today I was reading an article published in the New York Times last week. Yep - I'm way behind in life (hence why I haven't been posting much lately; sorry loyal readers!) As I read the piece, I scratched my head and furrowed my brow (or do you furrow both brows?) Anyway, my brows were doing something as I tried to discern the key question of the piece: would making marriage a 20-year (or even shorter-year) contract result in happier partnerships?

Before I read the article I wanted to say (scream. Okay, I wanted to yell a bit): WHAT? That's SO dumb!

But as I read, I realized that while the concept might be odd and altogether outright ridiculous, the point of both researchers and everyday folks alike trying to figure out happiness in coupledom is that ... duh ... we really do want to figure it out (how to be happy and how to be a great couple). We do! And maybe some day we will. 

Until then, give this article "Till Death, or 20 Years, Do Us Part" by Matt Richtel a read
Till Death, Or 20 Years, Do Us Part by Matt Richtel and while you do ... whether you think it's a ridiculous, dumb idea or a really innovative approach to an old institution ... simply vow to stay in the conversation! 

The point of the contracts and "ridiculous" suggestions and new/old models and even good-old-fashioned controversies about couple-hood is that we do, essentially, want to collectively figure this stuff out. We do, I believe, want to figure the happy couple stuff out so we can all get it right.

I know, right? That, dear friends and strangers, is a really good idea. Period.