HOW TO REPAIR THE LITTLE THINGS SO THEY DON’T BECOME BIG THINGS
All couples argue. Happy couples argue well. They have strategies for dealing with their inevitable disagreements, and they process their feelings so they don’t bottle up.
We know from Dr. Gottman’s research that both partners in a relationship are emotionally available only 9% of the time. This leaves 91% of our relationship ripe for miscommunication.
The difference between happy couples and unhappy couples is not that happy couples don’t make mistakes. We all hurt our partner’s feelings. The difference is that happy couples repair, and they do so early and often.
A FATHER’S LOVE: IT’S COMPLICATED, AND QUITE SIMPLE
“Daddy, is there going to be music for us to dance to, or did you just trick me into coming to a party?”
It’s our first Daddy-Daughter Dance. In the corner of the gymnasium, one particularly stressed-out father is fidgeting desperately with an iPhone and the big speaker to which it’s attached. The speaker remains silent.
Meanwhile, the rest of us dads stand in a ring around the gymnasium. We’d prepared ourselves for the awkwardness of dancing in front of other men, but it turns out talking to each other is just as awkward. While we pretend to be comfortable in our own skin, our daughters are turning the gym into a beehive of little girls and pink, popping balloons. Caitlin is right—it doesn’t look like a dance; it looks like a party. On meth.
THE 3 REASONS YOU SHOULD NOT TRY TO MAKE ANYONE HAPPY
We are shoveling mulch like our lives depend upon it.
My three kids are loading wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow, and I’m hauling and dumping and spreading and sweating. Eventually, my nine-year-old son Quinn asks a completely reasonable question. “Why are we going so fast?” I tell him I want the flower beds to look beautiful when his mom gets home. To which he responds with another totally reasonable question: “Because you are trying make her happy?”
The word “exactly” is on the tip of my tongue. But then I bite my tongue.
THE REAL REASON BACK-TO-SCHOOL MAKES US SO EMOTIONAL
The summer is fading—and the sun is rising—as I drive my son to his summer job.
At thirteen-years-old, Aidan has spent his summer riding a bus into the cornfields, along with other teenagers, walking row after row of corn, and pulling the tassel from each stalk, so the rows can pollinate each other. As we cross a river, he looks to the west, where the night is slowly giving way to day. He says it’s beautiful how you can see the layers of night disappearing in the sky. We talk about how, even farther west, there are people still sleeping in the dark, unaware of the passage of time.
This image haunts me.