A Minimalist Approach to Relationships

by | Dec 16, 2013 | Wellbeing, Minimalism | 0 comments

online couple counselingSporty and I have been moving together for more than 16 years now.

Right?!

Anyway, during our time together there’s been one overriding lesson that’s made all the difference in our relationship.

Keep it simple. Focus on what’s important and ignore the small stuff.

Okay technically that’s three, but at its core the lesson here is about simplicity.

It wasn’t always this easy. Back in the day —when were still in debt, chasing the suburban dream and quaffing red wine— we’d fight like cat and dog over the smallest of issues.

In fact, sometimes we’d just fight.

Yeah, we were that good.

I can poke fun now, safe in the knowledge that those two ‘selves’ are long gone and won’t ever be making reappearance, but honestly, living like that wasn’t fun.

Truth be told it hurt, which, given that our ‘pain bodies’ were constantly inflamed, I guess makes sense.

If you breezed past that sentence without a thought, allow me a virtual high five to a fellow Eckhart Tolle fan.

If, on the other hand, you’re wondering what the heck I’m on about then I highly recommend reading A New Earth, which is where I first came across this eye-opening concept.

How Did We Get from There to Here?

It all started in 2008 when we decided to sell (almost) everything we owned and move into a furnished apartment.

The short of that story —in case you’re not in the mood to read the long version— is that we realized it would be better for our collective sanity if we could avoid the schlep of moving house.

(Something we were inclined to do every three to six months.)

I’m talking about the packing and unpacking, the stress and expense of moving day, the aching backs and, of course, the unnecessary arguments that erupt for no apparent reason.

We inadvertently* became minimalists and we’ve never looked back. It turns out minimalism is a means to a beginning, because everything great (aside from the night we first kissed) started from that point.

*I say inadvertently, because at the time I’d never even heard the word before, let alone come across it in relation to a lifestyle choice.

Our personal growth shot through the roof: debt evaporated, savings increased and our relationship became easy.

Quite simply (there’s that word again), we don’t sweat the small stuff with each other. Yes, occasionally we’ll get a little huffy, but more often than not those instances coincide with a drop in blood sugar.

We get grumpy when we’re hungry. I know right, like a couple of five year olds.

But those huge fights. The kind you lean into and really give your all, they just don’t happen anymore.

You see, we’ve figured out where to spend our energy. Not only that, we’ve also come to accept that we both have quirks and foibles that need accepting.

But here’s the funny thing. By accepting what I mean is we’ve learnt to accept them in ourselves.

Rather than make the other person deal with something that makes no sense and ultimately serves no purpose, we make room for the fact that our person doesn’t care if, say, the toilet paper is over instead of under.

While we’ve never had that particular argument, I use it here as an example because this age old (and completely ridiculous) ‘rule’ has been known to bring about the demise of many a relationship.

In the greater scheme of things it really doesn’t matter which way the toilet paper is put on the holder.

No really, it doesn’t.

As soon as we realized this and started applying it to our day-to-day lives, everything got easier.

If something is really important, then sure, we’ll talk about it and reach a compromise. But more often than not, whatever is bugging us is nothing more than some silly tick.

In other words, we just want things our way.

Living together can be a wonderful adventure or just plain hard work. It’s up to us to decide which one it is.

Love more. Fight less (or not at all). Peace.

Also, it helps if you hone the art of listening.

Sometimes You Need Help

It’s impossible to fit and decade and a half’s worth of relationship ups and downs into a single blog post, so of course I’ve breezed over the angst and offered just a very broad strokes look at what we’ve done to achieve a happy home life.

There was, however, a time when it really was touch and go for us. Fortunately, we were lucky enough to have a friend recommend a really great therapist to us.

I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. I’ve had more fun at the dentist, actually.

It worked, though, and ultimately that’s what matters. The trick is finding the right person. You could ask friends and family if you’re not hung up on keeping your issues to yourself.

But let’s face it. If you’re at the point where you need outside help, it’s probably obvious that all is not well in Marriageville, anyway.

I get it though, sometimes you just want to go about your business without having to explain yourself.

Apparently online couple counseling is a thing now, which makes the process a whole lot easier. You can check out prospective therapists, read testimonials and really get a feel for the person before committing.

I preferred the ‘in-person’ approach, but for a lot of folks getting therapy from the comfort of their own couch is super appealing.

At the end of the day, if you need help, get it.

It’s totally worth it. (Even if you do end up crying.)

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