Grampy’s Guide to Relationships


Grampy is not an expert in relationships or marriage, but he is a lifelong learner and careful observer. The thoughts gathered here are meant to be universal truths and nuggets of wisdom that can apply to any couple.

  • Men are Controlling and Women are Crazy!  If you’ve watched re-runs of the I Love Lucy show, this is the premise for Lucy and Desi’s relationship and the source for most of the humor. There is truth in this stereotype. Whether you call it Venus and Mars or Controlling and Crazy, women and men operate in somewhat different spheres. The trick is to work out a partnership that recognizes, acknowledges, and takes advantage of the strengths of each perspective.
    • Men: Learn about the woman’s perspective, and practice giving up control … especially in areas where the woman’s emotional grounding and intuition are a better match than your usual perspective. You will reap several benefits from this effort: having less to control will reduce your stress, and you will begin to realize that your woman isn’t really “crazy” … she’s coming from her own position of strength.
    • Women: Cultivate your strengths as a woman, and stand your ground. Pick your battles at first in areas where you are most confident. In the emotional and spiritual sphere, you need to be the leader in the relationship.
    • Both: Learn each other’s strengths and submit to them.
  • Labels are Powerful. Watch out for negative labels that your internal voice wants to stick on your partner. “She always ….” “He never …. ” Even in good relationships these can have a powerful eroding effect. If your relationship is 80% good and 20% trouble, don’t dwell in the 20%. All you are doing there is working to expand the trouble into the good. If you want to run labels in your head, have them be realistically good ones. “He’s a compassionate man and a good provider.”  “Her laughter always makes me feel good.” Do whatever you can to spill the positive percentage over into the negative.
  • Practice Thankfulness.  When you are drifting off to sleep, say thanks for what you appreciate in your life. You will find that there is a lot there, and stating it will have a calming effect that might just help you sleep.  Also, sharing your thankfulness for anything your partner does … a well-cooked meal or help with some chore … will reinforce what is good. When things get a little tense between you, stop and practice some thankfulness.  This is a daily practice … like meditation, piano lessons, etc. You can get skilled at it.
  • Take Responsibility. It is a rare relationship problem that is one person’s fault. Don’t wait for your partner to make a change … step up and take responsibility for your failings and work to improve. No expectations, and no strings attached … just do it.
  • Seek to Be the Key to Each Other’s Growth. People are drawn together for mysterious reasons. One reason is often that each senses in the other a key to something missing, something unhealed, something that wants to grow. There’s a guy named Harville Hendrix  who has written much on this topic.
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want. It’s the expectations and wants that can cause so much contrived disappointment. Practice the Zen approach of reducing your expectations. Paradoxically, you may feel that you are getting more. Imagine your hand down in a candy jar with a narrow opening. You grab a fistful of candy, but you can’t get your hand out. If you insist on that big handful, you will get nothing. Loosen your grip, and you will get something.
  • Aside from attraction and chemistry, the most basic description of a good marriage might be that it is a bargain between husband and wife, where the strengths of one enhance the weaknesses of the other. It works best if you both agree in spirit to submit to the other’s strengths while asserting your own.

    Getting this little engine of magic started takes some practice and work. It also takes a certain amount of self-knowledge, which may require some self-reflection and individual work. Once the relationship finds its balance, you both will notice over time that you are growing in areas where you needed to grow. You may also notice that stress levels decrease as you learn to depend on your partner for their contributions of strength. And having a partner acknowledge and depend on your strength enhances a person’s self-esteem. All of this creates a healthy ecology in a marriage … one of growth, respect, trust and integrity.

    The opposite of the bliss scenario described above is a power struggle, where one or the other or both refuse to acknowledge and submit to the strengths of the other, and refuse to acknowledge their own weaknesses.

One stanza from Wendell Berry’s “The Country of Marriage

Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.

error: Content is protected !!