5 Rules for Relationships

I know about love just as much as the next person. In fact, I probably know even less. However, seeing as it is Valentine’s Day and I am in the business of giving advice I thought I would share five rules for relationships that I have developed from what little I’ve learned over the years.

  1. Never stop showing kindness. It’s a way of giving your partner affection and showing that you appreciate them. Even though your feelings may be obvious, it’s still important to remind your partner that those feelings haven’t changed.
  2. Understand that people communicate in different ways. Our style of communication isn’t only about our word choice or turn of phrase. Our body language and our actions also demonstrate how we feel. We need a combination of these techniques to communicate what we’re really thinking and the methods we use influence how we interpret the way other people communicate, which can lead to misunderstandings. It’s important to acknowledge what’s really being said instead of focusing on how your partner is saying it.
  3. Separate the conflict from the relationship. We avoid conflict because we fear it will result in ultimatums: the relationship is over, I’ll never see him again, etc. In fact, being in disagreement with your partner is a sign that you are two separate people, not a sign that your relationship is about to dissolve. Conflict is natural, healthy, and (unfortunately) unavoidable. Arguing with your partner may be uncomfortable, but it’s evidence that you care enough about each other to want to work things out.
  4. But if you do have to fight, fight fair. No name calling. Leave the past in the past. Emotional triggers? Out-of-bounds. Similarly out-of-bounds: your partner’s family, their views on politics, religion, or past relationships. Pay attention to your emotions and focus on exactly what it is you’re fighting about. And there’s no making accusations without having evidence to back them up.
  5. It has to be about you, sometimes. Too often I have seen people lose themselves in a relationship, constantly giving and giving and never receiving in return. Real love is about wanting what’s best for your partner, so your partner needs to understand and respect the decisions you make in order to be your best self. If you practice self-care and cultivate your own independent relationships and interests, you pave the way for a relationship that’s more varied, exciting and healthier for the both of you. Someone who doesn’t want you to do your own thing simply isn’t worthy of you.

In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.

What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to keepingbusywithb@gmail.com.

Pride and Prejudice and Endless Possibilities

kbb-pp

As voracious a reader as I am, I don’t often re-read books because I’m always onto the next thing. This has changed mostly since I’ve gotten busier (and older); I don’t have the luxury of revisiting my favorites the way I used to when I was a kid. Hanging out with those books was like hanging out with old friends- they brought me joy and were always a constant, even during the moments when my life was changing very rapidly around me.

In that sense, picking my favorite book is kind of like picking my favorite friend. If I had to choose one, though, it would be Pride and Prejudice. It’s certainly one of my oldest friends- I first read it when I was a whopping eleven years of age. I loved it so much that it was enough to turn me into a full-fledged Austenite. I read all of her books, and then I read P&P again. I’ve read it three more times since then, making it the book I have re-read those most out of all of the ones I have read.

You may think my choice is cliché, or that Austen herself is, but I hate to break it to you- she’s pretty unavoidable. P&P (as well as all of her other work) has been re-published, re-packaged and re-purposed hundreds of times over. Her writing is cliché because she’s the one who wrote it to begin with.

Here are some recent examples: ever heard of Bridget Jones’s Diary? Author Helen Fielding didn’t even bother to disguise the allegory and kept the name Mr. Darcy for one of the main characters in her popular series. And Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest, Eligible, is openly marketed as a modern day re-telling of the classic novel.

Seth Grahame-Smith actually cut and pasted from the actual text of P&P to create his own horror story, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, featuring the Bennett sisters as a troupe of corset-wearing, weapon-slinging zombie hunters trying to balance romance and saving the world. You know, the usual girl stuff. I got kind of a kick out of watching the female characters kick some serious zombie butt, but some of the original storyline gets lost in translation- for example, Elizabeth Bennett’s social status (or lack thereof) hardly seems to be an issue because she’s such a badass- but it was still a lot of fun to read. Apparently others thought so as well- the book’s rise to fame brought a slew of other copycat titles along with it, including another adaptation of Austen’s work, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

If your weapons of choice are more of whip and handcuff variety, you might enjoy Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, author Linda Berdoll’s erotic envisioning of what happens after the original Pride and Prejudice ends. He’s not Christian Grey, exactly, but this version of Mr. Darcy seems a lot less uptight than Austen’s version and Elizabeth Bennett is a lot more…shall we say submissive? Drama, babies, battles, heaving bosoms- this version has it all, and is perfect for die-hard romance fans.

More recently, I picked up a copy of Longbourn by Jo Baker, a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of the servants who scurry the halls of the Bennett family house.

 

KBwB-BFlower-50Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.

Romantic Reads that Will Melt Your Heart

kbb-romantic-reads

Even at my most bitter and cynical, I have never been able to resist a good love story. I guess I’ve just always had the ability to look at the world through rose-coloured glasses. Romance novels indulge this part of my personality or at the very least provide me a means of escape when my outlook is looking a little less rosy.

Variety is key to keeping things spicy in a relationship; I feel the same way about the books I read. The occasional bodice-ripper has found its way into my collection once or twice, but these I kind of regard as one-night stands of fiction because they’re short and satisfying, and you’ll probably never read it again.

Other books featuring romances are more like long-term relationships: as you learn more about the characters your affection for them grows, and the more you become invested in their relationship.

For example, in his novel One Day, author David Nicholls chronicles through the history of two best friends whose timing never just seems to be quite right. The more we see their lives take shape over the years, the more we want them to be together. Oh yes, we do.

Other relationship stories feature protagonists that are slightly quirkier and less likely to be so intrinsically linked, like The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (whose lovable characters have spawned a sequel). In both cases, the reader falls in love with the people more than the actual love story itself, and it’s because of our concern for their well-being that we want things to work out so badly for them. If they’re lucky and things do work out, it feels like emotional catharsis for us.

If things don’t work out, it’s a different kind of emotional catharsis. For example, Claire Calman’s Love is a Four Letter Word had me sobbing by the end, as did The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (I still can’t bring myself to watch the movie.)

None of these books, however, moved me as deeply as The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. It has got to be one of the most beautiful and devastating books that I have ever read. Every so often I found myself having to pause and look up from the page so I could soak it all in. What is it about forbidden love stories that makes them so enticing?!

It’s not hard to be enticed by romance novels, really- the desire to love and be loved is universal. All the heartache, the longing, the disappointment, the hope- we’ve all felt that way at one point or another in our lives.

No wonder Harlequin makes so much money.

Honorable Mentions

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is proof that love can exist after age 65.

This husband has a strange way of loving his wife in So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, but their relationship is still oddly touching.

If you’re looking for the kind of angsty, teenybopper romance that keeps you on your toes (will they? won’t they?) then you’ll love The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. There’s enough butt-kicking and smooching to keep you hooked through all six novels, and if that wasn’t enough for you, The Infernal Devices trilogy can be read as a prequel or as a stand-alone series (although trust me, you’ll want to read them all together).

KBwB-BFlower-50

I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) Don’t forget to friend me on Goodreads either! Btw: These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company.