Dating Advice from a Lesbian: Honeymooning

Or how to remain blissful without being ignorant.
Or how to skip the Confrontation Phase of a relationship.

A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook a couple weeks ago of Madea giving some relationship advice.  I’m not a huge fan of Madea.  There’s something about a strong black woman being played by a black man that makes my feminist side cringe.  However, in this particular video, she put everyone into the category of a tree, but before that, she said, “There’s only two places you’ll ever get peace in your entire life: your grave and your home.  If you don’t have peace in your home, then something’s wrong.”

On the way home from work, I was thinking about how exciting I was to get going home and seeing Erin.  I see her every day, but every day, I still get excited to be home with her.  It lead me to think, “We’ve been together for a year, but are we still in the honeymoon phase of a relationship?”  So I did what I always do when I come up with questions that I don’t know the answer to: I started doing some research.

The website I linked above says the length of the honeymoon phase can last a few months to a year or more, but that it is generally very much over by two years of marriage.  There’s quite a bit of information about how to know when the honeymoon phase is over, but there isn’t a lot about how to tell that it isn’t over.  I found a website that lists the 8 Signs You Are Still In The Honeymoon Phase of Dating.

The website lists them as:

  1. No Fighting
  2. Constant Agreement
  3. You Never Insult Each Other
  4. Sex All The Time
  5. Stay Calm Under Pressure More Often
  6. Laugh Together More Often
  7. Constant Touching
  8. Nothing Annoys You

This list bothered me a little, and it wasn’t because I think Erin and I are still in the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship.  It bothered me because the opposite of this list sounds a little miserable and unhealthy.  Now, don’t get me wrong, some things on this list sound equally unhealthy, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

A lot of people will tell you that “relationships take work” or “it’s not always going to be sunshine and flowers,” but I challenge that statement with a more revised version: Relationships take a daily, active choice to commit to that person. I don’t necessarily believe that means “work.”  If doing something for someone to show them you care is “work,” I might also challenge you to take another look at your relationship.  Work, generally speaking, is something we have to do because we need to get something back from it (example: money).  There are times (hopefully less often than not) that we will complain about having to go to work.  I mean, I love my job.  I absolutely LOVE what I do, but if I had the choice between being at home, sleeping in and reading or going to work, I’m going to choose option A.

Most people, on an average day, don’t want to work.  If I won the lottery and didn’t have to work, I promise you that I would be in Europe right now exploring, but I don’t have that option.  I have to work.

I don’t have to work at my relationship.  I make a daily, active choice to commit to Erin, and then I do things to try to show her that I’ve made that choice.  Not because I have to but because I want to.

Let’s look at the opposite of that list from above:

  1. No Fighting
  2. Constant No Agreement
  3. You Never Insult Each Other
  4. No Sex All The Time
  5. Don’t Stay Calm Under Pressure More Often
  6. Don’t Laugh Together More Often
  7. No Constant Touching
  8. Nothing Stuff Annoys You

That doesn’t sound fun, does it?

Make A Daily, Active Choice to keep yourself and your relationship in the honeymoon phase of the relationship without sacrificing yourself in the process.

  • Don’t Fight – There are ways around having a fight.  If you disagree with something that is happening, talk about it at the earliest possible convenience.  Don’t wait until whatever it is has gotten to you so bad that you simply just explode.  You don’t have to talk about it immediately, but make sure it happens before you go to bed.  Don’t go to bed angry.

That might seem easier said than done, but if you’re serious about a relationship and the other person is just as serious, then you can put into place steps that you and your partner need to take prior to anything ever happening.  And anyone unwilling to have this conversation with you is probably someone you want to reconsider. Disagreements will happen, and anyone who doesn’t think so is deluding themselves.

So what can you do?  Try having an “intervention plan.”  If a behavior that your partner is doing is bothering you (or vise versa), there needs to be steps in place that you can initiate a conversation to be heard.  Use “I feel” statements.  It can start with “hey, I feel frustrated/sad/ignored.”  Don’t accuse.  Avoid saying things like, “You’re doing X, Y and Z, and it’s making me crazy.”  Reword it, put yourself and your feelings first, “I feel frustrated because I feel like X, Y, and Z is happening.”  Say your part, then allow your partner to respond and don’t interrupt them while they’re talking.

If you’re responding because you’re partner has approached you, understand that it took a lot of courage to come up to you and talk about their feelings.  They’ve put themselves in a very vulnerable position.  Don’t respond with anger.  Something is making them feel a certain way, and maybe they have just seen something wrong or are misinterpreting a situation.  When you get the chance to respond, start with “I understand that you are feeling frustrated because X, Y, and Z is happening.  I don’t mean to make you feel this way.”  You can either follow up with I’ll try better in the future or explain why the situation isn’t the way that it’s coming across or a combination of the two.  Do not make promises you can’t keep: “It’ll never happen again.”

Once the situation is handled, end with some type of positive interaction: a hug, kiss, cooking, movie or cuddle time.  Then don’t dwell on it and move forward.

Side Note: If this seems strange, you could *practice.*  I know that sounds really silly and awkward, but if you think of things that might actually annoy you in a generic relationship, you might end up avoiding all that stuff in the long run because you talk about it before it’s even happening.

  • Agreement isn’t mandatory, but compromise is.  You don’t have to agree with everything your partner says or does.  In fact, if you do, I’m going to wonder if you’re being yourself in the relationship.  I don’t know of any single couple where they agree on every tiny detail of their lives.  I just don’t see that ever happening.  You don’t have to agree, but you do have to be able to compromise and then be okay with that compromise.  And compromises happen on both sides. If you find yourself always getting your way or your partner never seems to have to compromise, maybe it’s time to have the intervention I mentioned above.  Again, you don’t have to fight.
  • An active choice takes action.  If you want to avoid the “insulting, no sex, no touching, no laughing” thing, here’s a simple solution: choose not to and then follow through with your choice.  I don’t call this work, although some might.  I don’t do things to make Erin smile or laugh because I have to, I do them because I want to.  If ever I find myself in a situation where doing things for Erin to show her that I care for her and love her becomes work or a chore, then I’m going to sit down and really think about where we are in this relationship, and I’m going to talk to her about it first.

I don’t think Erin and I are in the honeymoon phase of our relationship anymore.  We don’t agree on every little detail of our life, and we aren’t in ignorant bliss, but we don’t fight, we don’t insult each other, we don’t blow up.  We laugh and we love.  We made an active choice to commit to one another. If you’re willing to make that choice, and your partner is willing to make that choice, then you can have a “blissful” relationship (one that remains in the honeymoon phase without going through the confrontation of the confrontation phase), but it’s going to require action over reaction today, tomorrow, the day after and every day after that.

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Posted on January 13, 2014, in Dating Advice from a Lesbian, Love, Relationships and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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