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Relationships are like food: sometimes we go through a sweet period, sprinkling yummy “I love you’s” here and there. Other times, something turns sour. A word, a small remark rots a whole day, like a mold-covered strawberry infects an entire packet. But hopefully for the most part, we enjoy a balanced, contenting diet, adapted to our needs.

Everybody’s food diet is different, but there are some basics to stick to: not too much of the junk, limit salt, watch sugar, etc. And coating some bad food with additives and colorants to make it look healthy and attractive, doesn’t do the deed. There’s nothing healthier than making a meal with fresh, basic ingredients.

I don’t have the recipe for ever-lasting love. But just like with food, I feel that there are some basics to stick to. We should definitely keep the lies out, nurture one another, and stay away from the many fake additives that might keep our relationships on the display shelf for longer, but at what cost to their health? In my view, some things scream “Need for attention”. They are:

1. If you can’t tell your partner that he/she is an ill-tempered, annoying brat when he/she’s being one, that’s not right. You should be able to tell it like it is. There might be a fine line between being direct and hurting feelings, but let’s face it, when you’re going out all night drinking with your friends while your wife is home with two sick kids and has not slept in a week, you are it! If you unleash a storm of insults on your husband because he snores too much, you are it! And you deserve to know. So you can take a good look in the mirror. If your partner can’t tell you that you are being unreasonable without you losing the plot, then guess what . . . You are it!

2. If you say, “I am sorry”, immediately followed by, “but”, that’s not an apology. That’s an explanation as to why you’re not apologizing. I know the famous movie line, “Love is to never have to say you’re sorry”, but (there it is!), I believe love to be the exact opposite. If you’re being purposely mean, you need to apologize. If you’re being inconsiderate you need to apologize, if you’re being hurtful, you need to apologize. If you never apologize, could you possibly be all of the above?

3. If you feel the need to express your undying love and eternal faithfulness in the privacy of your Facebook page, that’s not right. I’m not talking about the occasional nice words, here and there. I’m talking about the constant need to post that, you do love him / her. Your “friends might “like” the sugar coated lines you write on your wall everyday. But they will equally “like” the video of you cutting his clothes and hammering his gnome collection. The only persons who need to acknowledge that you love your partner are . . . your partner, and your children.

4. If you think Fifty Shades Of Grey is a romantic story with a little X-rated material, that’s not right. Fifty Shades might be a brilliant piece of work, but I think it’s far from being a fairy tale encounter between prince Charming and young naïve nobody, who get together and live kinkily ever after.

In this book series, I read about a mentally abusive relationship (and possibly physically but what do I know, I don’t have a red room in my house . . . ), I read about a woman who thinks she’s in control when she has surrendered all of it to a guy who owns her, body and soul.

It’s not about mutual love and respect, and the guy is certainly not the man of anyone’s dream – aside from the striking gorgeous looks, the private helicopter / jet / many mansions, and of course, the lady who cooks all his meals. . .

5. If you only address your partner, who is standing an inch away from you, through your kids, that’s not right.

“Tell Dad that his music is driving me crazy and if he doesn’t lower the volume, I’ll make him eat his ipod. . . Please.”

“No, sweetheart, I cannot buy you a doll house, because Mommy spent all our money on some ugly curtains so maybe you can play with that instead.”

That kind of stuff.

I am no relationship counselor, thank the Gods for the good of the humanity!

But I think that sometimes we get caught up in layers of political correctness, attention seeking, and fairy tale illusions. These are the pollutants in our recipe.

I wonder what happened to, “Honey, you are being a prat right now.” “You are right. I’m sorry.” “It’s okay. I love you.”

No messenger to deliver the message. No winding road to go from A to B. No hiding behind the idyllic image we are projecting to the world around us. Just the basic ingredients: two people ready to listen, some love and empathy.

How do you keep a health check on your relationship? How do you teach your children to be open to listening and empathy?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Nadege Nicoll. She was born in France but now lives permanently in New Jersey with her family. Nadege also writes a daily blog for moms who need to smile at everyday life. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her website www.nadegenicoll.com.

Photo credit to the author.

Nadege Nicoll

Nadege Nicoll was born in France but now lives permanently in New Jersey with her family. She stopped working in the corporate world to raise her three children and multiple pets, thus secretly gathering material for her books. She writes humorous fictions for kids aged 8 to 12. She published her first chapter book, “Living with Grown-Ups: Raising Parents” in March 2013. Her second volume in the series just came out in October 2013. “Living with Grown-Ups: Duties and Responsibilities” Both books take an amusing look at parents’ inconsistent behaviors, seen from the perspective of kids. Nadege hopes that with her work, children will embrace reading and adults will re-discover the children side of parenthood. Nadege has a few more volumes ready to print, so watch this space…

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