Of all the brilliant pieces of advice given to young couples, there are a few I feel that I must uncover as vicious, false myths:
- “If you want to grow closer to your wife or girlfriend, then shop with her.”
- “Even if you’re not interested, take the time to watch sports with your man.”
- “If you want to bond with your spouse (or spouse to be), cook with him/her.”
So, let me take some time to expose these falsehoods for you…
First, men are told, “If you want to grow closer to your wife or girlfriend, then shop with her.” I’m sure there may be some couples who have gained a lot of gleeful memories from hours spent together at the mall; however, the vast majority of men and women should probably avoid leisurely shopping as a way of improving a relationship. Why? Who do you usually see sitting on benches or at the food court in the mall? MEN! (and me, but I’m not your stereotypical female shopper). Men and women generally shop much differently. Men often want to know what they are getting, buy it, and leave the store quickly. Women, more often than not, want to cascade around the store, touch numerous different items, and leave with few or no purchases – or leave with many purchases, only to return most of them in the next day or two because they were unsatisfied with the items. Both sexes are often frustrated with how the other operates in this “leave the cave, kill something, and drag it home” adventure.
Another bonding experience that might be better left alone is watching sports together. This bonding experience is only okay if the following things are true:
- Both people are equally fanatical about the sport and the team being watched.
- The man in the relationship (or the woman, if she’s more interested in sports than he is) can watch the sport without becoming overly excited (e.g., throwing the remote, screaming at the referee/umpire, and/or physically harming the television).
- Neither person is prone to taking out their frustrations towards their teams on each other.
If these three items are not present, watching sports together can be disastrous. Yes, I may be being a bit overly dramatic. Still, I would not try to force someone who does not like sports to get to love them. The uninterested partner will take the joy out of watching sports for you… either by rolling her (or his) eyes, acting insanely bored, asking questions about every play, or trying to cuddle while you are on the edge of your seat. If you are a sports fan, give your partner grace if they are not, and encourage them to do something fun while you enjoy the game. If you are not a sports fan, have grace towards your partner, and allow them to enjoy the game in peace. You may even go as far as to invite friends over and provide snacks for them (if you are feeling super generous) – there will likely be a mix of sports-lovers and those who would rather sit around and talk… so both people get what they’re wanting!
Last, but not least, the myth my husband and I truly believed when we were first married: “If you want to bond with your spouse (or spouse to be), cook with them.” This nugget of “wisdom” should come with a flashing red warning sign that reads, “If you have control issues of any kind or strongly prefer that things are done your way, one of you needs to step away from the stove!” Eric and I tried cooking together. If I recall correctly, we tried it… once. Ever since, it’s only been one or the other of us in the kitchen. Now, we don’t mind if the other person is there to have conversation; but, if that person tries to get involved, some frustration is bound to happen. I generally cook the majority of meals; but, once in a while, Eric enjoys making something fun for a party or such. He’s an excellent cook. If he put his mind and energy towards it, I’m sure he could be a chef. However, we have decided that for the sake of our marriage, we will not share the kitchen responsibilities. We found that our personalities plus a very small kitchen equals two people who end up unloving towards one another. Think about it: you are in a small, hot room with someone who is making you angry – and you both have knives! Unless you are both easy going and have similar cooking styles, I would vote to avoid cooking together. There are just so many other things you can do that don’t involve smoke, boiling water (that could “accidentally” fall on the other person) or sharp objects. If you really want to spend the cooking hour together, perhaps one of you can cook and the other can clean the dishes. Feel free to try co-cooking if you want to, but don’t despair if it is not the superior bonding experience you were hoping it would be.
Though the above is true, perhaps it’s written a bit dramatically. But, while it’s important for you to find things you like to do together, it’s equally important to discover and admit to the things you hate doing together. If you don’t like doing something, gently bring it up a day or so after you have finished the activity and discuss it. Don’t tell your boyfriend two innings into a major league baseball game that you hate being there; but, if you don’t say anything, you try your hardest to like it, and still have a miserable time, then let him know gently before he spends more money on tickets for the two of you. I’m sure he can find a buddy that wants to join him if you don’t want to go.
Maybe you already know of some things you will not want to do with your future spouse – start listing and discussing them. I’m not suggesting that you don’t try new things (in fact, previous posts on PreEngaged say that you should!); but, I am suggesting that you are honest about whether or not you enjoy something once you’ve tried it. It will save you hours of boredom and your significant other hours of having to drag you places you don’t want to be!
What do you not like to do?
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