Advice

One Easy Way to Improve Your Relationship: Stop Doing Things You Hate Just Because Your Partner Loves Them

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I tend to believe that besides humility, humor, and bags of diamonds, what a couple shares in common is what keeps them together. Keep in mind that my opinion is not scientifically based — I got my degree in Reverse Psychology — but when my husband and I do things we both enjoy, we’re much happier — both as individuals and as a pair.

It took us a while to figure this out, because a lot of well-meaning people (who have obviously endured years of torture and want you to do the same) will tell you that you should do what the other partner enjoys doing, even if you DESPISE it, because if you’re a good mate that sort of sacrifice will bring you great joy.

Please.

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If I somehow agree to attend (read: get drugged, hogtied, and pushed in a wheelbarrow to) a football game, euphoric confetti could shoot from my husband’s eyes, and I will still feel like someone is disemboweling me with an ice cream scoop. If you ask me, if there is a hell, it probably looks a lot like the Alamodome.

On the flipside, if you ever see my husband accompanying me to buy and discuss cropped jeans, rest assured he has sold our children for a hologram of himself.

Years ago, we finally realized the futility of the “I’ll do something you like, then you do something I like” theory when we were sightseeing in Boston and had some sort of seething feud over the Freedom Trail and the New England Aquarium. I don’t remember the details, but I think it involved beluga whales and strangling. Making up involved a patriotic amount of Sam Adams, and at some point in our intoxication we remembered that we both liked biking. So after we recovered from a hangover of colonial proportions, we spent the remainder of the trip cycling from Cape Cod to Nantucket and — shocker — GETTING ALONG.

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For me, it was a great relief to quit pretending I enjoyed the driving range, Christopher Nolan movies, and lamb stew. And my husband has never been so glad to give up Tarot readings, Scattergories, and almond milk (though, honestly? That motherf*cker has no idea what he’s missing). And now, when together, we focus primarily on joint likes, such as: Deadliest Catch, hiding from our children, grilling animals, Louis CK, the musical stylings of the Ray Conniff Singers, and inventing dishes for Paula Deen. Why, we could spend the better part of an evening one-upping one another with phrases like “may-uh-naise margaritas” and “medallions of booder in clarified booder.” (Obviously, we should write a book on romance.)

Anyway, my point is: couples should do lots of things together that they both like and very few things together that only one likes. (It should also be noted that if the things you agree on most are methamphetamines or not touching each other, you might need professional help.)

And also: let’s not forget that if you both DON’T LIKE something, it can be as wonderful as both LIKING something. During basketball season, my husband will often reach across the dinner table and take my hand, only to whisper: “We’ll always have our hatred for Duke.” Be still my beating heart. He always knows the right thing to say.

Whitney Collins is the creator and editor of two humor sites: errant parent and The Yellow Ham. Her humor appears on The Big Jewel, McSweeney’s, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Fathermucker’s blog; you can visit her website at whitneycollins.com. She lives with her husband and two sons in Kentucky, where she’s been known to do mediocre local stand-up.

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