Beyond the Pages: You Mean I Have To Work At This?

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

Landline Rainbow Rowell

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

Oh you guys! This is one of my favorite books of the year so far! I read it in January and I still can’t stop thinking about it and need to buy myself a copy to re-read it. Rainbow Rowell’s second adult book is about a marriage that has been off for some time and she knows it has been. It’s not an issue of not loving each other but between jobs and kids and all somehow it just has gotten a little lost. When they are a few days out from leaving for Omaha for Christmas, Georgie has a huge work opportunity arise and she has to stay in LA for it. She assumes they’ll all just stay home but is surprised when Neal decides he and the kids are still going. Scared of what this implies, Georgie wonders if it has all fallen apart for good and if/how she can fix it….until she’s given an opportunity to talk to Neal in the past.

What I said about it:Rainbow Rowell continues her trend of being able to write poignantly and candidly about all sorts of love. I loved that, while this was partly a story about a love going wrong, it’s also a story about falling back in love and remembering the first time you fell in love with that person as well…especially in the face of maybe losing it all. She makes love just come alive and feel true.” You can read more of my thoughts about it here!

What It Got Me Thinking About:

relationships (marriage & friendships), not being passive in relationships, how much “work” relationships take, my own relationships

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There’s a lot of things Landline gave me to think about while reading it and after but one of the biggest things is how much care, commitment and “work” needs to go into a relationship — any kind of relationship. In Landline, the marriage was not dissolving because of necessarily huge things but these small, tiny moments. Little decisions that happened daily and were almost unnoticeable until one day you look up and realize,” WOW how did we end up like this?”

I’ve only been married for almost two years but I could see how easy it would be to get to this point. To get too complacent. Take things foregranted, unintentionally stop TRYING and let it all slip away. I think it’s easy to become passive in a relationship and not even realize it — to just let it BE and not do all the things to cultivate and nurture that relationship.

When I was younger I used to always say, “it shouldn’t take this much work to have this friendship/relationship.” And yes, in some cases it shouldn’t be THAT hard and shouldn’t constantly FEEL like work. But I think what I always thought was that relationships shouldn’t ever take work. That they should just naturally be. Maybe I was just too young to quite get it yet or maybe I was just mistaking what WORK meant in regards to relationships. But I truly believe that any good relationship worth having requires a certain degree of “work”. We must be active in maintaining it and nurturing it. Taking care of it. Not just putting it on cruise control or auto-pilot. I’m not saying we need to constantly be doing this but I think, as I reflect on my marriage already, I need to be mindful. It’s easy to slip into patterns, to stop communicating, to stop trying, to ignore things, stop making an effort to love each other. To just settle into the marriage and think it’s going to work because we love each other and smooth sailing from there.

It shouldn’t be all work.  I’m not saying that. There’s a bigger problem there, I think, if all you are doing IS working on it. But I think we are doing a disservice to our important relationships if we don’t realize that they DO take some degree of work and nurturing and caring for. They need us to be intentional and active participants.

And it’s not even just marriages. It’s friendships too. I think of so many great friendships that just faded away because both parties just STOPPED — for no reason. It happened by letting the communication stop, by not being active in engaging that relationship and letting life get in the way. I never meant for it to happen but it did before I realized it. And sure, that’s life, sometimes friendships are going to naturally fade but I think too often we are passive in relationships and don’t put in the work without even meaning to. I know I do and I’m realizing that.

I’m resolving to work harder at my relationships and be more intentional. Too many valued friendships have slipped away and I also don’t want to, years from now, being in a situation similar to Georgie and Neal in my marriage wondering how I got there — feeling surprised by it. I don’t want to look back and see all the small things that made us seemingly end up on different planets and know that I could have helped it.

Here are 3 things I’m going to do in my relationships starting today:

Marriage:

1. Go on a date at least once a month: I think one of the biggest things I’ve already seen about marriage is how easy it is to ALWAYS sit in our jams and flop on the couch. And yes, I do love that time and it’s valuable to us. But it’s easy to stop dating each other when you get married. Like really, really easy. Our dates don’t have to be expensive or anything crazy but I do want to make it a point for them to be a planned, specific date. I’d like for us to rotate who plans the date.

2. Stop eating dinner on the couch: We’ve gotten in a really bad habit of eating dinner while catching up on one of our shows. If we ever have a family this is something I do not want to EVER happen. I grew up with family dinners that slowly faded to everyone just eating on their own or in front of the tv. I started to miss those conversations and catching up. So I will clear off our kitchen table (which is half filled with books) and we will eat dinners together and use that time to talk. No phones, no tv on, no laptops.

3. Find an activity or a project for us to do together: I used to love when we’d go to the gym together but my interest in Pilates kind of ruined that and that’s okay. He works out with a friend now, which is good for him, and I do an exercise that I really enjoy more than the gym. But I loved that we had SOMETHING we did together. We have so many activities that we do separately (not to mention when we both get in our own little worlds..him with video games and me with blogging) and that is important but I want to find something to do TOGETHER.

Friendships:

1. Get better at communication: Here’s the thing about me. I suck at keeping in contact. I’m real bad at answering texts. I hate talking on the phone. I’m the worst at answering emails. It’s not that I don’t WANT to talk to you (sometimes I’m just not in the mood to socialize with ANYONE or I’m busy/in the middle of something). But I’m just not good at keeping in touch — a few friends aside. But I’ve come to realize it’s an excuse. Not because I secretly hate people. I don’t know what it’s an excuse for but I know that I can work at it*. I just have dismissed everything as “well, I suck at keeping in contact” without really taking steps to be better at it. I truly am not a person who needs constant communication to know we are friends (I have a few great friendships where that’s mutual) but I’ve also gotten in the bad habit of just NOT communicating. And the worst part? I’m not very good at initiating the communication. I let months slip away without saying anything. I’ve got a lot to work on here — answering communication and initiating it. Especially the initiating.

2. Make plans: I also suck at making plans. See, here’s the thing. When I’m with people and spending time with a friend, it’s great! I love it! But the actual thought of making plans? I am the worst. I’m lazy. I’m never the person to ask anyone to hang out because I honestly am so content with doing my own thing or hanging with Will. I know I’ll always be glad I did it (like I normally AM) but there’s this period from the making of plans until I get there where I’m like WAHHH CAN I JUST SIT HOME PLEASE?

3. Do something nice for a friend: Because I’ve gotten in this cycle where I don’t really initiate contact or make plans with people, I’ve slipped into some selfish habits that I didn’t even realize. I used to be the friend who always looked for ways to genuinely do nice things for my friends — a way to encourage them,  to make their day, make a birthday special, help their broken heart, etc. I just stopped. I stopped being thoughtful. And I feel like a shitty person. I’m going to make an effort to be intentional about this once a month until I’ve gotten myself out of whatever weird funk I’m in.

* I think a lot of my issues with friendships is due to some past friendships. Maybe I’m just trying to protect myself by just not taking the risk of nurturing friendships? I don’t know.

 

 

What do you think? Do you think relationships take work? Have you experienced this first hand? Am I the only one who struggles with this? If you’ve read Landline did Georgie and Neal’s story resonate with you in any way?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I totally agree! I think a lot of people forget that relationships in general have to be cultivated. They forget the work part of it all.

    • It’s so true! Maybe because in our culture sometimes work has bad connotations? I don’t know why it is that way. But it’s so true. If we don’t cultivate the relationships we have they aren’t just going to remain the way they always were…there’s changes and hardships and all that.

  2. I know what you mean! Joe and I used to eat dinner on the couch watching our shows too. I always wanted to put an end to that, but for some reason never did. Then we got our dog two years ago and we, obviously, had to stop eating at such an easy level for him to get our food. Even though we switched locations because of Bentley, it still helped us talk more during dinner.

    Relationships are hard. We’re getting married this November and I know things are going to change. Which is weird to think about “a piece of paper” making such a huge difference. We’ve been dating for five years so I know all about keeping things fresh, lol

    Friends are tricky too – and they shouldn’t be! We had a bachelorrette party for my other girlfriend, we’re all friends from high school, and it was an amazing time. I remember I keep thinking “Why don’t we do this more often?!” And it’s just life. But life shouldn’t get in the way of these amazing friendships!

    • Haha yeah your dog would have been loving that if you tried to keep on the couch 😛 I think it really is just a simple thing that can make a difference. I mean, dinner might take you what 15 minutes? 20 minutes? to eat but that’s a nice chunk of time to talk interrupted and catch up on our days and talk about things.

      Yes! We dated like 6 year-ish before we got married (granted we were college kids and not living together for a lot of that time) but it does change. Keeping it fresh is WAY harder now that we are married and living together haha.

      YES I always think that…like OMG THAT WAS SO FUN. Why do I resist making plans so much?? Maybe it’s because I’m forever lazy lol

  3. That book sounds fascinating! It does bring up lots of thoughts, I can see why you wanted to talk about it. I find that I agree with you a lot. And it is difficult with friendships. Especially at our age group, people tend to lock themselves away and not make new friends. And then there is the issue of trusting new friends, and ‘clicking’ as one used to with new people, as a ‘Best Friend’. I often feel I am protecting myself as well because people tend to make you have to work so very hard to make friends with them, then it feels like well they obviously don’t really want to be friends, or they could be complete fakes and actually turn out to be dangerous or incredibly stupid and still a teenager in their minds and behaviors. I end up just not wanting to try. My husband is my best friend, to be honest, and I find that a HUGE blessing that I am eternally thankful for. And of course there are older good/close friends that I have maintained and cherish. New friendships, in person, they are difficult. Past friendships didn’t always work out of course, and many guys and gals were not the nicest of people so it turns out, some though just faded away. It is important to nurture them just as with anything I find. Whether the friends be people you know from school, work, or any situation such as through other friends, online, penpals (sadly a dying art, though I personally try to keep it up), etc. We all have our struggles indeed. But I agree again, I am very much the person who doesn’t want to go out, I’d much rather hang out at home. I often regret going out when I do as you also described. It’s just that I know myself, I know what I will enjoy, and ultimately what I feel I should make time for. I personally was never one to party, and when I did go out to a few I always cringed at the company and all I wanted to do was be at home with a book or a movie and food. Ha ha. (Travel, and going out to the movies, or a dinner, etc, those things are nice. But you’re right, making plans is something that takes work, and I am lazy in that way as well. Though money is also a factor, and not having it…)
    I just wanted to comment, and also say that I find your blog awesome, and I hope you keep it up for a long time! Thanks for the suggestion of this book! -Ciao for now!

  4. I just finished Landline and it was everything I wanted it to be. I had really high hopes because I love Rainbow Rowell’s past work, but this book lived up to an surpassed my expectations. I agree that it makes you think about personal relationships and there were so many quotable moments. Great book. Also I love your “book talk” and making time for relationships. I have tried the monthly date with your significant other and I must admit that I let it fall down, but I want to pick it back up- it is such a good relationship goal!

    • Ah wasn’t it so good?? I just adored it. SO MANY QUOTEABLE MOMENTS I AGREE.

      And I’m glad you enjoyed this! We got this monthly date thing! We can do it! 🙂 I think my problem is being creative with different ideas haha And also taking the time to think about it. I get lazy. This is why we are always like “what do you want to do for dinner tonight?” “I don’t know” “i don’t know either” and then we end up just going to the usual places. lol

  5. I love everything about this post and I’m going to share it with everyone I know. I finished Landline last night and I’m still thinking about it. I can’t even express how much I love this – thank you for posting it!!

    • Thank you Brandie! I really appreciate that!! Isn’t Landline just incredible?? She’s so skilled as an author to really get at the heart of relationships and love and such.

  6. This is such a great post! My husband and I talk about this all the time. It’s so important to put in effort with the people you love, because it’s worth it. And this makes me remember how everyone was so hard on Ben Affleck when he thanked Jennifer Garner for working on their marriage in his Oscar acceptance speech. I was like, “Yes!” to all of that, but so many people weren’t, and that makes me sad. Marriage and friendships should always take work, but there are so many ways to make it fun. So glad to hear this perspective from another married lady in her twenties.

  7. First, I love this little feature. What a great way to talk about how books affect you 🙂 And it’s so funny that you chose this book to talk about. This week I told Jen that I will be using my next Audilbe credit on Landline now that it’s out. We got to discussing what the book is about via email. She tends to avoid books like this, where as I seek them out and we talked about why.

    Relationships do take work, but I think there is a line there. I have friends who are with men who treat them like complete trash, and they work at trying to make the relationship last while being miserable. That kind of work is pointless. And not worth anything.

    I suppose relationships need nurturing more than work. Maybe work isn’t the best word. I have some personal experience in all of this, as my husband and I went through a year of downs. It was a big tragic event that triggered it all, but in hindsight, looking back at how we were, I think we would have gradually gotten to that point eventually. When we first married, we never fought. Ever. We were officially in honeymoon land for the first 2 1/2 years. Things went south when I got pregnant the first time. In a nutshell, we lost it. We were far along and I was devistated. Men and woman grieve differently, and I felt like he wasn’t there for me. that on top of tons of depression, it was just a really bad year. We hit rock bottom. We NEEDED that. I needed that. We were at the point of just calling it quits, but the thought of not having him in my life devistated me even more than everything we had just went through. I love him. I just couldn’t imagine. From that day forward, things changed. We went to counceling, and we started to talk! LIKE REALLY TALK! I never told him how I was feeling. I naive’ly felt he should know, right! he lost a child too. why was he not comforting me? There was a lot of lost communication and communication is key. Now when I’m pissed or upset, I tell him, Vice versa. We always lay it on the table. I’ve noticed a ton of friends relationships fizzle after adding a child. Well, when we finally had Aubrey it was such a blessing, that it didnt’ affect us negatively in any way.

    We do the date thing sort of. We don’t always make a point of going out. Like tomorrow we have a date at home. Aubrey is at grandmas for the night and we are having a nice dinner at home and then kicking each others asses at mario cart. I think just spending time together is a big thing. I love that you plan on finding something to do with Will together. Brian and I started gardening together 3 years ago. It’s kind of corny, but it’s something we both really enjoy. Everynight we head out to the garden to check what we can harvest, or what plants need attending too. Together Activity’s are great.

    ugh and friendships. I’m pretty horrible with those too. I keep up with the important ones while I can, but the really close ones, they understand that life gets busy. Ya know. And then there is my family. Brian and Aubrey come first. I don’t make many plans with my friends because I like to spend my free time with them. I need to. I’m not saying you can’t have friends while being married with kids, but it’s hard to juggle it all. A few of my friends are also married with kids and understand this. Some of my single friends… not so much. unfortunately. Facebook helps though.. as lame as social media can be, it allows me to still keep up with friends and family that live states away and still keep my focus on the important things.

    So I’m really looking forward to Landline, I think it will connect with me personally. I read Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves last year and that was another story that got me in the heart. I feel like if two people truly love eachother they can get through anything together. They just have to both want to and put forth the effort.

  8. Make a plan . . . to come to Brooklyn for the day!

    I totally agree with all of this. I feel it with friends especially since a lot of my close friends have moved away over the years and it’s been really hard to stay in touch. It’s ok if you take turns being the one who puts in more effort, but if you’re both lazy about it you end up not emailing for a year and it sucks.

  9. I definitely feel like it is so easy to get comfortable in relationships..especially marriage. I also have a best friend that I have known since we were 11…which now is 16 years of friendship and definitely see that I have gotten really comfortable and used to her just being there and frankly sometimes she drives me bananas. I see more as family than a friend at this point. So I stopped making an effort to show her that I care and that she is an important person in my life…which she is. I feel like crap about it and I see myself doing it but haven’t made the effort to work on it. This blog entry has definitely giving me some inspiration to work on this in all my relationships.

  10. I can COMPLETELY agree with this! Like every single thing you said. I can be so LAZY sometimes when it comes to friendships… I understand that some do just fizzle out and you grow up and move away and start new jobs, etc. But I have some friendships that it doesn’t matter how far away we are, we will always be close. I just need to get better at replying to text, calling, etc. I’m so bad at it.

    I also agreed with what you said about being married. I’ll be married for a year in September but we’ve actually been together for FIVE years.. so it’s really easy to stop going on dates and everything else you mentioned. I want to incorporate some of your goals into my life as well!

    ALSO, I’m starting Landline after work today! I’m excited!

  11. Great post!! I totally know what you mean when you said you used to think a good relationship shouldn’t take any work. I felt that way too when my husband and I first started dating (and even in the first few years of our marriage). Now we’ve been together almost 7 years, and we’ve met our fair share of challenges…home ownership, balancing school with graduate school, and (most importantly) parenthood, which more than anything has required us to be more “intentional” in our relationship with each other. Kids pull you apart like nothing else! Not in a bad way, but for the majority of your waking hours, your priority has to be on the kids, and when they go to sleep, sometimes all you want to do is zone out on a couch or read a book. But I often have to very INTENTIONALLY put the book down or turn off the TV because he needs to be a priority too! It’s tough. But when you recognize that that effort is needed, you’re already heading in the right direction.

  12. Alessandra says:

    This post is just too good!
    I haven’t read the book yet but I completely agree with your thought both on relationships and friendships.
    The most important thing for me is to always keep in mind that I decide to choose my boyfriend EVERY morning when I wake up. Every day is important and the small things are just too easy to forget, like the goodnight kiss when you’re super-tired or just being there when the other is lost in some thoughts or has to make a decision about anything.
    I am like you about going out with friends, and I have to admit that sometimes it is very easy and “natural” to just think that the other person will always be there no matter if we don’t get in contact, until they aren’t.
    So, sorry for this comment (and maybe some errors, I am Italian XD) but a big thank you for making me think!
    As always compliments on your blog, which I really love!

    Have a nice day,

    Alessandra

  13. I guess when I was younger I always felt that I was the only one keeping the relationships or friendships going. Always planning things and then people would always cancel on the day of and it got to annoy me. I shouldn’t be the only person making an effort so the past few years I let people go because if they couldn’t find time for me I couldn’t find time for them. I do wish I could have more friendships but that is life and all relationships are work and communication.
    Great post!

  14. I think it’s important to put thought in your relationship, otherwise you might take the time you spend together for granted. That’s why my boyfriend and me always like to do things together. Like you said, it doesn’t have to be expensive – it doesn’t even have to cost money. As long as you go and do something else. I love sitting at home, playing games and watching movies with him, but it’s great to go out there and do something more active every once in a while.

  15. Ah! This sounds so much like me. I’m awful at keeping contact with friends. I get wrapped up in my own world. I always have excuses for it, too. “Oh, I’m too busy with grad school.” “I’m trying to find a job and it’s stressful.” “I’m just so tired!” I’m just awful about that. I like your plans for you and Will too. I might talk to Ben about doing some of the same things because I can feel us getting into that comfortable stage where we just do our own thing in the same room all the time. There are times when I realize we’ve spent three days without having any real conversations! This has all made me think I need to organize my own thoughts about this in a post, too. I hope that’s okay. I’ll mention this post in it, of course!

    I hope all your plans to do better work out. They’ve definitely inspired me to do better.

  16. I know what you mean. I’m horrible about initiating contact, too. ^^;; And when I make plans, I keep them…but it’s so much easier to not make plans and to sit home and relax. 😛

  17. If something is easy, then something is wrong — that is what I’ve come to learn about relationships in life. Just like a job, or an education, it takes work to make it happen. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that if I’m the ONLY one putting forth the work in that relationship, then its time to re-evaluate the worth of that friendship. You have to give a little, to get a little. I’m not always perfect with my communication skills either, but I truly believe if that person means something to you, then you’ll make an effort for them (for you!). That “work” will become part of the relationship and not feel so draining and powerless.

    As always, great discussion starter Jamie!

  18. I’m very much like you when it comes to friendships. It’s not that I don’t WANT close friends, but I just find it hard to keep connected in real ways and I don’t put forth enough effort to change that. I have pretty much completely lost touch with my best friend from high school and college because neither of us are good at keeping up with communication. I even put a monthly reminder in my calendar to call her and eventually (after several months) started ignoring it. Not because I didn’t want to talk to her, but because I let other things get in the way – and then, after a certain amount of time goes by, it just feels that much harder to pick the relationship back up. It’s frustrating! But you are definitely right – I NEED to make an effort if I don’t want to be alone in my own little bubble of a world. Friends are important!

  19. As soon as I started reading your post, my mind shifted from marriage to friendship so I’m really glad you brought that up too. I haven’t read Landline yet (as I’m telling you) but ah being mindful is so important in all aspects of our life and it’s hard when it’s overshadowed by distractions and stupid shit. I hate it. I really do. I try to be conscious of what I’m doing but sometimes it’s also very hard. I really like the list of things you want to do in your marriage (which is why I also recommended After I Do to you) and must try to break us form the couch habit. IT’S SO COZY AND OUR PLACE IS SO SMALL THOUGH. But I will try, as long as you do. 🙂 Thanks for writing this! Hope you are doing well. I realize we haven’t caught up lately and I’m being MINDFUL. But life is busy. 🙂 Until next time…

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