I recently had an experience in my life of moving from a 8000 sq. feet new mansion to an older 1,200 sq. feet condo. The house had 6 bedrooms and 8 full bathrooms. My rented condo has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms (thank goodness for the second bathroom!).
Which one do I like best? Obviously, the big house! Which one I am happier living at? The condo! And here is why:
1) The condo is close to work. My commute is 8 minutes as opposed to 40 minutes or more. The quality of life you gain in not being stuck in traffic is tremendous.
2) I always felt guilty living in such a huge house knowing that so many people have very bad living conditions.
3) The big house was isolating and far from other people. The condo is near everyone and everything. I can walk to shops and grocery stores.
4) I feel I have everything I need in a condo, except storage space. All you really need to live is a bed, a bathroom, a table to eat, a TV, a couch and a kitchen. Furthermore, lap tops and tablets are making the computer desk/room a thing of the past.
5) My community has a pool. My mansion had a pool. I was often alone in my pool whereas at my community I enjoy seeing and meeting other folks who live near me.
6) Even though I had a big house, not many people would come over, since the United States does not have the culture of visiting people at home. People prefer to meet in bars and restaurants. And how many big parties do you really throw in your life (unless you are someone famous), especially during a recession?
So for all those envying the beautiful big houses you see in advertisements or movies, ask yourself if the people inside are really happy…
There is a famous saying in Portuguese: “Em assuntos de homem e mulher, nao se mete a colher”. In a loose translation, it means: “When it comes to couples business, don’t stick your spoon there”.
It is often not wise to tell your distressed friend things like: “dump that B**”. While it is good to hold your friends’ hand when they are going through hard times, one should be careful about meddling too much between couples. Often times couples resolve their issues or reconcile, leaving you, the friend, in a bad light with your friend’s partner. But who can resist offering advice when your friends ask for your opinion? In that case, the distressed friend should not make the mistake of telling their partner what their friends said. Otherwise, that friend will be forever on the sh** list.
On the other hand, should we always listen to what family and friends say about our relationships? Do they really know everything that goes on between a couple? That is a hard question to answer. Normally, those closest to you know you well. They can sometimes see objectively what we cannot when we are in the throes of love. And love and lust can be very blinding, especially in its initial stages.
So what do we do? Listen to our friends and family or listen to our own heart? I think we need to analyze what is the motivation behind the advice and what is the person who is giving you advice experiencing in their lives now. Ask yourself:
1) Is that friend giving you advice having difficulty in finding a partner themselves and therefore letting a tiny bit of jealousy interfere?
2) Are your Mom and Dad influenced by old ideas and prejudices (for example, racism, ageism, physical appearance or class consciousness)?
3) Is your best friend giving you advice on your love life while he or she just had a bitter break up and has a negative view of the opposite sex?
4) Is your best buddy telling you to leave your partner because he or she wants to have someone available to party with?
5) Is your friend negative about your partner because they are simply jealous?
6) Is your friend saying negative things about your partner or warning you about them because they want to keep you as a “back-up” in case they don’t find anyone more suitable?
Some people say that the best people to ask for advice are those who are happily married themselves. That might be true, but I think the best person to give you advice (besides a professional therapist) is actually yourself. How does your partner make you feel? What is the percentage of conflict versus peaceful and amorous times? Do you feel respected? How is conflict resolution between the two of you? Do you see improvement when you communicate your desires and feelings? Do you see signs of abuse? In any circumstance, your friends’ opinion about your relationship should serve as a way to make you think, but you need to very careful about its motivations.
Some couples like to do everything together, some couples do well having different hobbies and activities. People are different and what works for them is also different. However, when couples take vacations apart, it can be a source of conflict. It can also be a sign that the relationship is on its way out.
Vacations bring memories. Vacations are meant to be about fun and relaxation. When you have a vacation without your partner, not only you are not going to have those memories together, you may put yourself in situations where meeting people of the opposite sex is very tempting. And resisting temptation is one of the things people in committed relationships need to do. Temptation is everywhere these days: at work, in social events, on the internet. If you think having solo vacations will enhance your relationship, you have to realize your partner needs to be on the same page. Is your partner wishing you a nice vacation and happy to stay behind (sometimes working)? Is your partner completely cool about it? Then all the power to both of you. If your partner is not as enthusiastic about you having a solo vacation as you are, you might have a problem there. Resentment will grow, and resentment is one of the biggest marriage killers.
What about business/work trips? They are part of our working lives. Some people travel a lot for work, some occasionally and some never do. If your job makes you travel all the time, communication with your spouse is key. Texting, emailing, calling and skyping all help stay in touch and make your partner feel comfortable with what you are doing. I know a man who traveled abroad on business and took pictures of everything interesting he saw, sending them by messaging to his wife. It was his way to say he was thinking of her. She felt happy and content and secure.
Traveling with your romantic partner can also be a big test of your relationship. It’s a 24 hour together thing. Either you will get along or you will feel like killing each other. However, when people get along, it is one of the most pleasurable things you can do together. There is no one in the world I prefer to travel more with than the person I love. Friends are ok, but some have different interests and you don’t have the same freedom to negotiate. Your children are ok, but you don’t get the romance part. And some places just invite romance: think about Paris, the French Riviera, a tropical beach, all of Italy, the Greek islands…
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