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I love you just the way you are. Now change!

Oh sweetheart, I love you, you’re perfect for me. Well, there may be just a few things we should talk about.

Welcome to the world of real relationships. No matter how much you are in love, and how wonderful your partner is, there is usually an agenda – yours and theirs.

Agendas come with the best of intentions; to bring your mate to your way of thinking. After all, you’re doing them a favor; you’re showing them the light. God bless you.

I think the problem with most relationships these days is threefold. One: we expect too much. Two: We expect not to have to give too much. Three: There is pity little full disclosure.

Disclosure is key. I lived with my husband for three years before I married him. In all that time I never heard him fart. After we said “I do”, he never stopped. As it turned out, it was the least of the things he forgot to mention and as the years flew by, I longed for the days when that was the only thing I had to complain about. It all would have gone so much better if we both had just told each other the truth about our needs, limitations, abilities and expectations. Yup, disclosure is a biggie.

No matter how wonderful they are relationships can be a bitch.

Why do our partners try to mold and change us and why do we try to beat them to the punch? Whatever happened to:  love me as I am?

I think it speaks to the basic relationship mantra: There’s nothing that can’t be improved upon (otherwise known as “my way is better”).

It all feels a little sneaky if you ask me. You tell me how wonderful I am, how much you love me and how much you respect me. The next thing I know, you’re teaching me how to close car doors, how to properly adjust the shower head, which phone I should buy, what car is better for me and what kind of art I should like.  I thought I was adorable and irresistible and perfect for you. What the hell happened?

Of course I did help you discover that shirts come in colors other than blue and beige, that Polo shirts should not be tucked in, that pencil-head haircuts are not chic and that cheap dive restaurants in strip centers are NOT adventurous.

It all amounts to the perfect storm we playfully call love.

Change is good but I’ve rarely found it easy. Sharing your life with someone comes at a price. If you have the right person, the price is happily paid. If you don’t, you’re in for a world of hurt trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole.

I’m a flower child of the 60’s and 70’s. But I’m here to share with you that the Beetles had it wrong. Love is not all you need. Tolerance, understanding, loyalty, undying support, compromise and putting your significant other first are all required ingredients for a long lasting relationship. If you’re short on any of these, I’m betting it’s going to be a rough road.

And then there is the full disclosure. Not unlike ‘The Full Monty’, full disclosure can be a bit awkward. Fess up to who you really are, what you really want and what you are willing to give. If we all do that, maybe the divorce rate would go down from the current 51% of all marriages.

For the record, my disclosure is as follows: I love dogs, cats and children (mostly just my own). I am not a morning person, I love to read, eat in bed, watch sci-fi movies, nap in the afternoons and debate world affairs. I am fiercely loyal and expect the same. I am abundantly affectionate, I never fart in public but I can belch like a trucker. I rarely put the cap back on the toothpaste, I share deodorant and hairbrushes and I have been known to cuss but prefer that you don’t (the unfairness of that is ridiculous). I don’t do ‘cheap’, I hate coupons and I’m not a fan of returning items. I donate, I contribute and I support. I have my own opinions and I don’t appreciate being ridiculed for them. I have a hard time tolerating stupid but I play well with others. If I’m yours, I’ll stand by you until the end of time.

I’m not the best catch in the world, but I’m a damn good one (and clearly humble). I’ve been lucky to have found love a second time. As high school friends, Steven and I connected again after 40 years of living full lives.

Welding our lives and our habits along with our idiosyncrasies isn’t easy. Let’s just say that we make a very lively couple. Still, I find we try to change each other along the way. While the efforts lead to inevitable clashes, we seem to find a middle ground and settle in to new routines.

I figure that age gives us an advantage; we know a lot more now, having loved and lost before. I’m at a loss to understand why we keep trying to change those we love. Maybe it’s our quest for a perfect life of harmony.

Good luck with that!

 

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Rick Gualtieri - Congratulations on getting a second chance!

Oh and just for the record, I have yet to fully learn that lesson about leaving polo shirts untucked. 🙂

Mel Glenn - What an astute and compassionate column. The bottom line is that people don’t change, though they may bend a bit. It’s what you’re willing to put up with. As a wag once said, “Marriage is at first passion, then irritation.” A smart, full disclosure column, well-done.

Scott Morgan - Pitch perfect, Tammy. Not a word I wouldn’t agree with.

The amazing thing is, I don’t want to change anybody at all, yet no one believes me. Seriously, I don’t want people to change for me and more than I will change for them (and I won’t). And people know that about me, yet they can’t seem to wrap their heads around it. They keep waiting for the other shoe. And I’m not even wearing shoes.

Love this post. High-5 to you. And to your second chance at love. Whatever the hell love is supposed to mean …

Joan Cooper - I used to blame men for everything. And they are out in front more than women, but I finally realized that it isn’t the men – it is the women. Woman’s role is to love the man – made in God’s (?) image? Love is unconditional and an iron clad commitment. It is woman’s role to love without critizing. Suggest perhaps, but no critizing. Think of the effect that would have on civilization.

It is, after all, up to us ladies. Only we can change the world from the heart up. Love your man without finding fault. He will pass that glow he feels out into the world.

Carmen - Truly a very down to earth and honest observation on your part. Agree with you 100%.
Keep your great articles coming!

Jeffrey Davidson - I love you just the way you are as long as you change a few “simple” things. Hmmm! And why did I fall in love with you?

If you make a loving commitment hoping to change someone, it is doomed to failure. It is obviously not the person you fell in love with, rather the person you want to make that person into. Stepford Wives?

A relationship should be built on love, caring, understanding, sharing and compromise (plus a bunch of other stuff too!).

That means that one should be willing on any given occasion to place the other person in the relationship ahead of themselves.

I think that in any relationship there should be you, me and us. Do not give up your individuality. Learn to share and appreciated the interests and desires of your loving partner but do not give up yours. Resentment will surely follow.

On a lighter note, remember…
Rule #1 Your partner is always right
Rule #2 When your partner is wrong, re-read rule #1.

Keep up the great, informative, insightful and often times entertaining writing.

maureen - As usual, another great post. I try to focus on the positive things and ignore the not-so-positive…not always successful tho!!

Adam D. Oglesby - Good post.

Full disclosure? Are you serious? Full disclosure is not a recipe for getting the girl/guy. It’s might actually guarantee that they make a mad dash for the hills!

Your meth habit, your incarceration, your illegitimate eight children–this is not the stuff from which great relationship are made.

Me, I’m a fan of letting it trickle out real slow, after your lives are so intertwined that they can’t put your ass out on the street even if they wanted to.

How’s that for being forthcoming?

Pamela O'Mack - Right on, Tammy! I think there should be a law that you can’t get married until you are 30!! What the hell does anyone of us know in our 20’s? We have great sex snd think it’s love. We are always on our best behaviour, never showing any bad habits or disagreeing with the “love of your life!” then you get married, have kids and things start to slip. You tend to show your bad habits and don’t have any problem disagreeing. Some people are lucky to make it through the 20’s and some of us don’t, but I was also lucky to have that second chance and in my late 30’s I found what real love was. He loved me just the way I was and I loved him just the way he was! Do you call that maturity?

Kellie - Tammy
Love this topic. I have been single a loooong time. Never remarried after my brief young marriage. Never lived with a boyfriend. They have their own place … I have mine. (first off …my opinion) don’t marry until you are 30. Do your 20’s up big time. date … allot. Travel and experience. Then you have so much more to bring to the table when you do decide to do the marriage deal. Once I realized just how long I have lived alone, I knew that I would have to meet someone and full disclosure would be HUGE for me. Why would I marry and do the non-disclosure routine at this age (like we all do in our younger years). I am a true believer in compromise now at the age of 50. I love the idea of your list of faults or likes and presenting this to our partners prior to living with or marriage. H’m would we still make the same choices with that partner if we did make this type of list? I think if you have met the correct person you would move forward. Otherwise, presenting the list and trying to change that list off the bat would be a red flag. I am still waiting for my partner to come along. I don’t expect at this age to find “my perfect” mate without faults. I have so many myself. I expect to find a man who respects me, I respect him. We find more good things about each other and embrace them. Rather than being annoyed or try to change the bad ones.

Tammy - Hi Rick, thanks for stopping in, always happy to have you. Thanks also for the congrats! I can help you to understand the whole Polo shirt concept (Isn’t it just like a woman to try to ‘help’ you change your ideas?). Polo shirts, my darling, are casual wear. They have longer hems in the back so as to be worn outside your pants. They come in all kinds of wonderful colors and something tells me you would look good in all of them. They are not, and will never be, dress shirts. You’re welcome … (ahem) and no charge. That being said, if it makes your heart sing to wear them tucked in, then by all means screw everyone else and live the dream. I’m behind you all the way! Thanks for the post!

Tammy - Hi Mel, bending a bit is a good thing. If it works for the mighty oak tree, it can work for us. You are SO right, it does come down to what we are willing to put up with. Spoken by a man who knows a thing or two about the subject – yes? Thanks for the read and for sharing.

Tammy - Hi Pamela, I do call that maturity, but I also call it Karma. Good people should and do gravitate to good people. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, the angels sing. I’m beyond happy that they sang for you. You’re right; of course, we know nothing when we are in our twenties. We bounce around thinking we do, and if we are lucky, we make some good choices. Second chances are gifts. I think we are all given them, but not everyone has the courage to take them. I’m happy knowing that you are on the other side of my blog. Thanks for posting!

Tammy - Hi Scott, as it always seems to be the case, we are on the same page. Are you sure we aren’t related? I don’t ask for change anymore either. I found the request was illogical and had a snow balls chance in hell of happening anyway. I ask for consideration and compromise. Those seem to work so much better when offered. You, sir, are a rarity. Here’s hoping you stay that way. As to what love really is … that just might be another post some day. Always grateful for the visit and always love the comment!

Tammy - Hi Maureen, I get it! I have done and sometimes still do the very same thing. Sometimes, however, it takes me to the place called ‘denial’. Not an awesome place to live. It’s sometimes hard to know if you’re being positive or just living in denial. The proof is in the happiness. So glad you enjoyed the read and stopped by to say so. Thanks for that!

Tammy - Hi Carmen, good to hear from you. Happy you enjoyed the read. ‘Down to earth’ is my middles name. ‘Queen’ would be my first. (snicker). Thanks for stopping by and posting

Tammy - Hi Joan, I always feel fortunate when you grace my comment page. You always have something to say that makes us think. We don’t always agree, but I love that about our ‘relationship’. I gave your comment some thought, and while I can’t ever imagine myself as having a totally committed role to my man to the point where I would never offer any criticism; I might suggest that your thought just might be right. What a world it would be if good men passed that kind of love and devotion out to the universe. The problem, I believe, lies in the finding of the ‘good men’. Living now, for 59 years, I would offer that while there are many out there, there are also many out there that are driven by greed, violence, hate and arrogance. I doubt very much that they are like that because a good woman didn’t give him her all. Such good conversation, Joan! Always a pleasure having you on the other side of my blog. Keep your comments coming!

Tammy - Hi Jeffrey, I LIKE the way you think. I especially appreciate the comment about putting the other person in your relationship first. This seems to be a hard thing for a lot of peeps to do. But it is crucial. We all need someone to ‘have our backs’ when life gets a bit tough. Knowing that you come first, that your needs and wants matter, well, it makes all the difference in the world. Nicely put kind sir. Thanks so much for sharing and for being here. I’ve missed hearing from you.

Tammy - Hi Adam, yes, dude, I’m serious! Fess it up. I want to know about your meth habit, your illegitimate kids and your time in the slammer. Maybe, just maybe I won’t care. Maybe I’m in it for the fun, the adventure, the great sex. Okay, I can’t even say that with a straight face. But I think you get my point. If you’re in it for the long term, you’re fooling nobody by hiding your shit; it all comes out eventually. And then you need to split up the house, argue over who gets the dog, fight over child custody and wonder if your car will be keyed while you’re at the local watering hole as you innocently attempt to drown your sorrows. Just cut to the chase, own your demons share your bright spots (you gotta have bright spots) and stop wasting your/her valuable time. If I were Queen of the land (and not just in my own mind) I would make it the rule and life would be easier. Of course I also would make chocolate cake a breakfast food, legalize prostitution and instantly put to death all child and animal abusers. But, hey, that’s just me. So glad you found your way here, and am hoping you come back for more of the same. You’re read was awesome!

Tammy - Hi Kellie, okay, we are twin-sies. After my divorce it was tough being single. I spent a couple of years pretty damn miserable, lonely and depressed. I didn’t date. But once I got the hang of it I found that being the boss of me was pretty awesome. I loved being single and sometimes miss its perks. There are lots of perks. But, when you’re lucky enough to find someone wonderful who loves you like you were born to be loved, well, let’s just say that my mama didn’t raise no fool. We have been able to weld our lives together by practicing full discloser. It felt awkward at first but it also felt so honest and raw and wonderful. Sure beats the alternative. Love what you had to say. So very happy that you’re here and am grateful for your sharing.

Adam D. Oglesby - “…wonder if your car will be keyed while you’re at the local watering hole as you innocently attempt to drown your sorrows.”

Tammy, love the imagery.

Of course, I was being facetious in my earlier comment (mostly!).

I don’t disagree with you–in the long run.

I do think that some relationships are cheap hook-ups that don’t require much in the way of forthrightness–let’s say your common drunken one night stand.

But other than that–if you want a smidgen of a chance to build a strong, lasting relationship–get those thorny background baggage issues out of the way early.

I’m not suggesting you begin every first date with a spot light in the face interrogation, but certainly early on inform your sweetheart-to-be of those things that you know could have an impact on your relationship.

(P.S. Tammy, thanks for checking me out.)

Tammy - Hi Adam, no worries, after reading a few of your blog posts, I knew you would ‘get it’ and that much of your comment was humor/sarcasm (both of which I thrive on). I think the matter just might be covered in generations. When you reach the age of maturity (and I use the term loosely) you seem to have a lot less time and interest in the bull that often flies back and forth. Revealing and rummaging through your baggage is the only way to know where the trip is going and if you’re willing to hop the plane. Dating, finding true love is all a delicate balance of decorum, honesty and deceit (Hopefully more of the former than the latter). It was my pleasure to check out your blog. In many cases it seems you are the manly side of me. What?! I tried to subscribe but was unable. Is there a secret?

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