Wednesday, 1 February 2012


As Valentine’s Day rolls around again, it got me thinking about what it means to be a couple. Now I don’t profess to be an expert, but I thought I would share with you some words of wisdom about relationships that have resonated with me. Some I have learnt through my own personal observations and experiences. Others have been passed down to me by people far wiser and more experienced in this crazy, little thing we call love. 

Being a part of a couple is being part of a formidable team. This means a true partnership of love, mutual respect, friendship, collaboration, compromise and tolerance, and loyalty and support.

Being a couple does not mean giving up your family, friends, personal interests or values all “for the sake of love” <insert a roll of my eyes here>. 'Adjusting' yourself to fit around your partner is neither romantic nor realistic, and is fatally flawed. You can’t be part of a team if it is a one-sided affair. It can’t be love (the real, long-lasting, unconditional love not the fleeting first flush of romance) if you have to change the core parts of you. This brings me to my next point.

A successful, loving relationship is about achieving the right balance of three lives – yours, your partner’s, and the one you have together. You cannot be completely dependent on nor should you expect your partner to fulfill every single aspect of your life. You need to continue to cultivate 'you' in order to bring the best of yourself to your life together.

It’s not the flashy, expensive gifts but the small gestures and often intangible things that really count. To quote Helen Keller, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”

Never compare your own relationship to another. It is a complete waste of time. Each relationship has its own foibles. In truth, you never really know what goes on in other people’s relationships. Besides, why would you want to be a clone of someone else? Create your own story together instead of trying to live somebody else's.

You do not have to and will not always agree on everything. You just have to do your best to understand and accept each other’s differences. 

Learn when to get over it and let go. See previous point.

Don’t be arrogant. You are not always right and your way is not always the best way. There are two of you in this. Who died, and made you judge and jury extraordinaire? See previous two points.

Don’t treat the person who loves and supports you the most like crap. You will cause irreparable damage to your relationship if you are constantly criticizing and complaining. See previous three points.

On the flip side, be each other's biggest advocate. Show your partner that you are their most avid fan and biggest supporter.

Learn how to fight fair. It is perfectly normal to bicker and argue with one another. The dysfunctional element lies in how you do it. That's what you actually need to manage.

No relationship is perfect all day, every day. There will be great days, good days, okay days and terrible days. That is just the way this relationship and couple thing works. As long as the good far outweighs the bad, then it’s all normal.

Being in a relationship is about making a conscious decision every single day you are together to honour your commitment to your partner.

Relationships do require work and mean responsibility. But it shouldn't be that hard.

If you have to schedule time to be together do it. Don’t be ashamed about having to diarise quality time with your partner. Be ashamed if you just let it slide. 

No one in your relationship is more important than the other – not you, not your partner and not your children (if you have any).

A wedding (should you chose to get married) is only one single event in your life together. Everyone deserves to have the wedding of their dreams but don’t lose sight of each other amongst all the tulle, lace, flowers and seating arrangements. It’s actually your relationship that deserves that kind of time and effort every day.

Being part of a couple means that you need to be open to and accept a degree of vulnerability. If you shut yourself off in an effort to avoid disappointment and hurt then know that you are also closing the door on everything that is good - the love, joy and contentment that comes with being in a partnership with someone you love and who loves you.

'Love chub' is a condition that causes unintentional weight gain when in a happy relationship. It can happen to all of us and has affected most of us (including yours truly).

Dress up and look good for your partner (even if you are afflicted with love chub). They deserve the best of you.

Surprise one another, especially if you've been in the relationship for a long time. Don’t get complacent.

And finally, couples come in all types, shapes and sizes. We all deserve the same rights and recognition in society. Here’s to equality for all couples, no matter how you roll!

This is dedicated to all our family and friends who are shining examples of coupledom. You were the inspiration for this piece, and you inspire MOH (My Other Half) and I to be a better couple. Happy Valentine’s Day!


  1. I'm not always right??!!! *insert mock surprise followed by dramatic collapse!!!*

    All very true observations and true for friendship as well as relationship. If more people understood these "rules" life would be soooooo much easier!