Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This Relationship Corner: Try it, You'll Like It

My wife has a habit of putting a book in my hand and demanding I read it. I just finished one a few weeks ago, in fact. We're both book-lovers, so reading has always been a shared interest. However, we often like to read different things, making it hard to talk about books because we don't know what the other is reading. This is why she assigns me homework, because she wants to talk to be about the books she loves so much.

Reading a book is a pretty serious time commitment, which is why I can be pretty picky about what I read. However, when my wife hands me a book, I'll often drop whatever I'm already reading and plow into it. Over the years, she's handed me many, many books and I've enjoyed all of them. Now, when she hands me something, I know I'll enjoy it, or at the very least enjoy talking about it with her.

In a relationship, we often take on the task of introducing our partner to new experiences, things we love that we just have to share. It could be a book, music, food, a television show, or any other hobby or pursuit. One of the best parts of being in a relationship is sharing these parts of our lives, and what's even better is seeing our significant other experience it for the first time. It's equally great to find something new and wonder where this has been all out lives.

While ideally we would receive this new thing with joy and gladness, we sometimes react to it like a child being offered Brussels Sprouts for the first time. We don't want to try anything new, our lives were just fine without any suggestions, and we probably wouldn't like that crummy new thing anyway. We'd rather sit in our own small world without seeing what's out there. It's safe and comfortable in here.

I must confess, I'm often like that. There have been times my wife has wanted me to try something new, and I just wasn't in the mood. I was that whiny child, and yes, I did whine. I refused to give it a chance and only looked for what was wrong rather than admit that I might be wrong about it, that it might not just be tolerable, it's actually great.

Because then, once I'm enjoying it, I have to admit that I was wrong to resist it in the first place. That's a pretty big blow to my very sensitive and fragile ego, and a part of me wants to just hate it on principle. I often do this with music. My wife was into Mumford and Sons first, and I dismissed them at first, thinking they weren't worth my time. But my wife insisted I give them a chance, and as I began to listen to them, I not only came around, their album was on a constant rotation in my car.

So I have to admit that she was right and that I did enjoy them. She's also done this with movies, and we have a long history of her dragging me to see movies that I had no interest in seeing. And then when we leave the theater, I can't sing its praises high enough.  I remember being very resistant to watching O Brother Where Art Thou? and now it's one of my favorite films.

I'm much better about it now because I've learned to trust her. (It's why I am now a sushi lover.) That's what this boils down to, trusting that the person you're with isn't going to steer you wrong. After all, you're with them for a reason, and the longer you're together, the better you know each other. Not only does this mean you can read their moods and anticipate what they need, you can also anticipate what they might enjoy. Just as they can anticipate what you might enjoy.

This is why we need to always be open minded about what our significant others put in front of us. Just as it's no fun putting up with a picky-eater who shoves away all unfamiliar food, it's not fun dating someone not open to new experiences. These explorations can bring you closer together like never before, so they're worth a shot.

However, this doesn't mean that you both will like everything put in front of you. You still are different people with different tastes, you're going to have some dislikes. There's nothing wrong with that, by the way. It doesn't mean you are rejecting each other, and you shouldn't see it as rejection. As long you both tried it at least once, that's all you can ask.

My wife and I still have different tastes when it comes to books. There's nothing wrong with that, because it means we still have different things to talk about. We like different television shows and different music. That's also a healthy part of a relationship, being comfortable with your partner having a few different tastes than you. You can't do everything together, and as I write previously, sometimes you do need a break from the sharing. (Just not a long one.)

In your relationships, make sure that you never stop sharing. It's part of what sustains your relationship and keeps it fresh. And just as you want your partner to try your passions, be open to trying theirs. You never know what worlds await you, so don't push the plate away. You'll be glad you tried it.

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