If you’re getting a bit set in your ways and your relationship needs a make-over, try out these new moves; they’re destined to help you find family bliss. Some are old-fashioned; some are wacky. Pick what suits you.
1. Old move: Negotiate a compromise
/New move: The eight-second kiss
Forget trying to win the other person over to your way of thinking. If they agree with you, they are probably just lying anyway. When a fight is going on and on and on, pull this move out of the bag; it’s a sure-fire jaw-dropper. Pucker up for a sizzling, long, engaging, wet ’n wild smacker. Ramming him against the wall is an optional extra.
2. Old Move: Love ’em and leave ’em
/New Move: Search for a more meaningful life
The idea of looking to the other person to fix your life is over. That includes the self-serving ‘love ’em and leave ’em’ attitude. Relationships are back in fashion as the world fills up with couples who are rediscovering the joys of family. They are searching to find ways of making relationships work and keeping families together. The move is inward, towards finding peace and meaning; not outward, loving and leaving.
3. Old move: A holiday to reconnect
/New move: Loads of time apart
He knows that your skin breaks out after you eat green peppers and he reminds you to get your roots tinted. What you might need in a long-term partnership is a bit of space. Lots and lots of it. You live together, eat together and almost breathe together. It can get creepy. Go on a trip with your kids. Send him fishing with your son for the school hols. Book a solo retreat with a group. Spend lots of time apart. You may even start to miss each other.
4. Old move: A midlife crisis
/New move: The family foundation
The new midlife crisis happens in your early thirties, and often when you’re still single. By the time you hit your mid-forties, you are grounded, blissfully family-bound and working towards living a life of purpose. Women have changed. A recent UK survey reveals that women in their late twenties don’t want the lives their moms had. They want to stay home with their babies and be happy. Girls are kicking off their power suits, bored with the idea of being a single working mom, and they are finding fun in family again. Families are leaving the cities and finding quality of life out in the country, where the air is clear and life slows down a bit.
5. Old move: Talk it through
/New move: Shut your trap
Ever find that you have the same fight over and over and over again? The exact same fight? Words are not always the way to solve relationship problems and build bonds. Talking is totally overrated when it comes to a bad patch in your relationship. So what should you do then? Do physical stuff together. Go to gym, go for a ride. Do stuff where you don’t have to talk to each other. Not one word.
6. Old move: If they don’t shape up, ship out
/New move: Quirky is cool
We live in the age of the individual. Quirkiness is celebrated. Dudes in eyeliner, girls in jocks, metrosexuals and queer couples are hot. Families are flexible and flawed. It all works out in the end somehow. There has never been as much space for each person to celebrate their individuality in a family.
7. Old move: Supersized family homes
/New move: Totally private spaces
No relationship can survive the continual onslaught of kids if you don’t have strong physical boundaries. An electrified bedroom door handle works well when they hit their teens; otherwise investigate soundproof walls or interior trellidoors. You need to do what it takes to let your kids know that Mom and Dad need a bit of privacy. Your teenagers erect great big ‘keep out or die, mothersucker’ signs on their bedroom doors. You need them, too. And who cares if you’re both just reading in bed during those Sunday lie-ins? Create places where angels fear to tread. That place is your relationship.
8. Old rule: You can have it all, SuperBabe
/New rule: Peace on earth is better
The last thirty years have really been the generation of the SuperBabe, driven to succeed in the workplace and home equally. It was a battle for the universe. Now that women have the controls in their hands, a whole load of them are asking, ‘What the hell for?’
Women want less. Less consumption. Less stress. Less work. Less arguing. Less pollution. Less money. It seems the women of the ‘want it all’ generation don’t want it all, after all. So what do they want? Home-baked goods, organic farms, flexible jobs, sunshine and good friends. The new Sex and the City generation wants a return to family, to slow, sleepy weekends, and kids growing up with mud and earthworms. They are happy to let the man run the show. They don’t want to be thirty-nine and cranking out their first kid on fertility drugs. Sound old-fashioned? Or New Age? Germaine Greer wouldn’t like it, but then most of us don’t remember who she is any more.
9. Old rule: All genders are equal
/New rule: The return of the Alpha male
We have fought for this. Well, perhaps not personally, but women have fought hard for this. Equal pay, equal responsibility. Men are on the household roster, cooking and baking and sewing. The dominant rule is that a relationship is a partnership, and is shared equally.
Sure, men may have been wearing skinny jeans and buckets of eyeliner, but there is still a whole load of testosterone hidden in there. The need to be a protector and provider is hardwired into his DNA, and the dominant male is on the rise again. As women soften once more, the balance shifts and men are called on to reclaim their own gender power. Yes, he can cry, but he can also fend for his family and act as your protector. Women are cottoning on to the fact that it doesn’t hurt them to let him knock the nails in or drive on long road-trips. Even if he is smelling scrumptious and wearing Armani and mascara.
10. Old rule: Girlfriends are for dissecting relationship blues
/New rule: Moaning is old news
Your trials and tribulations used to be book-club fodder to cheers of ‘ditch the douche bag’.
Do you really want to spend your time with the Bridget Jones crew, who ply you with wine and tell you to dump the undeserving git? Make friends with people who live in joy, and who are positive and supportive of your owning your role in life. Relationships are taking centre stage again. New-age foxes are far too sussed to moan about their men. They are busy making their lives fabulous.
So, which myths did you marry?
We looked in Chapter 1 at the ideas we have about marriage and relationships. Well, we have these ideas about family life as well. Ideas like:
Men bring home the bacon.
Women will look after the kids.
Sundays are for families.
Children should always eat at the table.
Families do things together.
We will all go on holidays together.
Things in families should be fair.
I will love my kids equally.
Family members have to put up with each other.
Family life provides security.