If you’re both happy, you’re doing it right

When it comes to relationships, there are so many rules.  Everyone seems to have a little pearl of wisdom to offer about how to make sure that your romance lasts.

I’ve been in a relationship for eight years now.  At the beginning of this year, my beloved and I moved in together.  Awesome as that is, it has been a slightly nerve-wracking experience.  When we decided to become a co-habitating couple, I threw myself into the challenge.  As is typical of me, I started reading everything I could about successfully living with your significant other.  I managed to over-think the whole process, and I got really caught up in all the things that we ‘should’ be doing.

My parents told me that you should always eat every meal with your partner seated at the table, facing one another.  They do this every night, and they’ve been married for 32 years.  When Ross and I moved in together, I insisted that we start eating at the table.  However, we soon started migrating into the loungeroom to watch T.V  while we ate.  The first time we did this, I panicked.  I thought to myself, “This isn’t what we’re supposed to be doing!  We should be sitting at the table, having a meaningful conversation over a home-cooked meal.  Our relationship is doomed!”

What I didn’t consider is the fact that Ross and I both like watching T.V.  It’s the activity that helps us to wind down after a tricky day.  We often eat dinner almost immediately after we get home from work, at which point neither one of us is functioning well enough to hold a complex conversation.  I also didn’t think about the fact that we very rarely spend dinnertime staring mutely at the telly-box.  On the contrary.    We often pick a show or film that we both want to watch, and will continually hit pause to joke about the program, or share stories from our day.  Even though we are watching something, we’re still engaged with each other and we’re still chatting and giggling.

So, we aren’t the type of people who are happy to have a chatty sit-down meal at the table.  We do loads of other things together that make us happy, and help us to feel close to one another.  We usually shower together in the morning, we’ll sing along loudly to Weird Al Yankovic songs and Disney soundtracks, we play You Don’t Know Jack once a day.  Most of these things don’t fall within the category of things that you ‘should’ do in a relationship, and yet, they make us both really happy.

The couple that cosplays together, stays together.

Everyone is different.  And every relationship is different.  Those rules about how you should behave in a relationship, and what kinds of behaviour are relationship kryptonite are total bollocks.  You don’t have to spend X number of hours a day talking to have a successful relationship, particularly if you and your partner are very shy.  You don’t have to go on loads of glamorous dates if you’re both homebodies.  You don’t have to have sex a certain number of times each week if the two of you don’t feel like it.  You don’t have to get married after a certain period of time if you aren’t ready to.  You don’t have to get married ever if that’s not your bag.

There’s no definitive list of how you should behave when you’re in a relationship.  It will depend on yourself and your partner, the types of people you are and the way you like to live your lives.  There’s no point comparing yourself to others, and panicking that you don’t conduct yourself in the same way they do.  In a relationship, there’s only a problem if either or both of you aren’t happy with the way things are trucking along.  If you’re both happy with the way things are, you’re doing it right.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Do you ever freak out that you’re ‘doing it wrong’ when you’re in a relationship.  Do you do any of the things you aren’t ‘supposed’ to do?


  1. My Psychologist gave me the best advice when it comes to relationships: ‘There are no rules’
    I once thought there was in the past and I found that those ‘rules’ were making me grumpy and unhappy. I’m in a somewhat ‘part-time’ relationship now and I think it’s the best thing. Glad you understand that too…

    • It’s so true. I think that ‘relationship rules’ only work for a tiny number of people. For those who don’t fit into that very narrow group they’re just a source of misery. Every relationship is different, and you’ll just drive yourself nuts if you try to measure your relationship against other people’s relationships.

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