In the fairytale romance we all grow up believing in, after the wedding everyone lives happily ever after. But in the age of divorce, how can we make sure the honeymoon phase never ends? We spoke to the author of You Can be Right (Or Your Can be Married), Dana Adam Shapiro, about how you can live happily ever after, by sweating the small stuff in your relationship.
29: In your book, you focus on why love dies, is there a common trend to why relationships are ending today?
Dana: The root cause was often complacency: taking each other for granted, not acknowledging each other, not making the other one feel sexy, or appreciated. It’s all those little things that make you susceptible to the attention of people outside of your relationship. Death by 1000 paper cuts is just as bloody as getting stabbed in the back”and far more common.
29: Why do you think we tend to overlook the little problems?
Dana: We tend to live in the future. We think, it’ll get better, it’ll get better. But it doesn’t get better by itself. You need to engage the elephants in the room; otherwise you’re going to get stomped. So if something bothers you, say it, but say it nicely.
29: How can we address problems in relationships?
Dana: You need to take responsibility for your own actions and feelings. Don’t blame your partner. So instead of saying, “Last night you made me feel jealous, say, “I felt jealous last night, and here’s why.” The biggest thing, I think, is developing the ability to fight well”to resolve conflict in a way that is mutual. Don’t fight to be right and don’t fight to win
29: What red flags should people look out for?
Dana: Look for the parts of their character that are going to bug you down the line. It’s different for everyone, but you know what characteristics you want and don’t want in a partner. One man I spoke to told me, You can’t change a person’s character”yours or theirs. Behaviour, sure. You can change behavior. But character, never. So whatever it is you don’t like about the person, magnify it by a million, ˜cause it only gets worse. If you still love them after that”marry them.”
29: How can we be sure our significant other is The One?
Dana: When people date, they’re always putting their best foot forward, it’s a bit of an audition. But the only way to really get to know someone is to see all sides of them”and that includes their messy, needy sides. So I think its best to accelerate that inevitability and just be yourself as soon as possible. One woman said to me, “A man marries a woman hoping that she won’t change, and she does. And a woman marries a man hoping that he will change, and he doesn’t.”