A Recipe for a Happy and Healthy Relationship: The Next 5 Ingredients

A Recipe for a Happy and Healthy Relationship: The Next 5 Ingredients

Hello and welcome back to another episode of Lauren’s childhood diaries. This week, catch the riveting story of how Lauren and her besties, Adrienne and Leslie, take on Ace of Base in their self choreographed dance to I Saw The Sign. It will open up your mind.

(It’s really a shame that So You Think You Can Dance wasn’t around back then. We would have owned that audition. I could have been a star. Oh, Janet Jackson, how you got along without me, I’ll never know.)

In all seriousness,  if you could sit and read my diaries for a few minutes, you would find the makings of a compelling TV drama. Like one of those after school specials. It’s riveting. I’m talking lip singing Misled by Celine Dion to imaginary crowds in my basement. Oversized peace sign earrings dangling from my ears. Love triangles, real and figurative. Girl bullying. Purple, blue and pink floral shirts that just make you want to weep. Elephant pants and crochet vests. Help: My-little-sister-keeps-copying-everything-I-say-and-she-won’t-leave-me-alone sagas. Boy drama. More boy drama. The first kiss. The braces. Learning about deodorant. The first day of high school. The maroon and green kilt and matching green knee socks. Oh, the horror.

My journaling these days is a lot more civilized. For starters, I call it a journal now, not a diary. Take that, 10 year old self!


Check out my awesome floral patterned baby doll dress, and my white slouch socks with my black loafers. And, I’m sorry, is the a t-shirt under my dress? I bet I wrote about how cool I was in my Bart Simpson diary that night.

To date, one of the coolest and most life changing things I have ever done (and written about) was to marry Ted. Yes, he’s a little wacky, and he’s got eyebrows that would make even Peter Gallagher jealous, but he’s also kind hearted, and, well, my soul’s recognition of its counterpart in another. Yes, that is a line from The Wedding Crashers, but I tend to find inspiration in the strangest places. You have to admit, it’s a good line! And it’s how I feel about Ted. I know, I know, barf, barf, barf, cheesy cheese balls with a side of cheese whiz. You can open your eyes now: the cheesy part is over.


Ladies and gentlemen: Peter eyebrows Gallagher!


Ladies and gents, my husband, Ted eyebrows McDonald! See? It’s a toss up!

As you read last week, Ted and I are slowly doing our thing, tango dancing around a set of rules that, when carefully followed and mixed together just so, allow our relationship to flourish, all the while keeping us in tact as the whole human beings we are in this relationship. We are not two halves that together make one whole. We are two whole beings that together make a bigger, more awesome unit.

Incidentally, that belief happens to be one of the 5 ingredients of this next installment of:

Ted and Lauren’s Recipe for a Healthy and Happy Relationship
The next 5 ingredients

Let them be free to be who you fell in love with. As I said earlier, it’s important to remember that you are two individuals who, together, make an awesome team. You are not, as the saying goes, two halves that make one whole.  Make sure to not only nurture the things about you that make you who you are, but to also do the same for your partner. My husband absolutely loves to ride his bike. He wears funny spandex outfits that, when put together with his sport shades, BMC socks, bike shoes, and almighty helmet, make him look a little strange. Seriously, it makes me laugh every time. But it also warms my heart every time. I don’t like to ride. Not on the road anyway. But he does. Every time he does something he’s passionate about, he’s all the better for it, and our relationship reaps the rewards of his good humor. When he goes on a 3 hour ride, I stay home and test a new recipe, or sit on the couch with a blanket and a good book, or write, or have brunch with a dear friend. Or maybe I watch the 4th season of Sex in the City for the 28th time. Whatever I choose to do, I know this much is true: spending time with myself nourishes my soul, makes me a better partner to Ted, and makes our relationship all the more awesome.


 Hey, hot stuff!


Ok, so the outfit definitely looks much cooler on the ride. I’ll admit that.

Discuss deal breakers early in the relationship. I realize this one could be tough if you’re already married, or very deep into your relationship. But man oh man, is it ever important to discuss your deal breakers before you get in too deep: Kids. Money. Family. Career. Quality time. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are defined by no one other than you. Know what you’re deal breakers are. Don’t judge them, or try to change them to fit the mold of a new partner you so desperately want to be ‘the one’. If you have to change core values and desires about yourself in order to make a relationship work, I don’t think you’ve found ‘the one’ just yet. And why would you want to deny yourself what you want? Keep in mind I’m not talking about trivial things that you can compromise on like the kinds of movies you like, sports teams you root for, or even age, for that matter. I’m talking life altering core values and desires that define you. Own what you know makes you happy, and what you know makes you unhappy. Yes, relationships are about compromise, but knowing what you are willing to compromise on will ensure you will not be disappointed. You can try to fake it in the beginning, or even kid yourself, but trust me, as you get deeper and deeper into your relationship, those deal breakers will be amplified, getting louder and louder until they poison every part of your relationship, making it so toxic that it cannot survive. And, to put it bluntly, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. It’s not fair to either party to ignore your deal breakers. You both deserve what you want. So be upfront and honest with yourself, and have faith that you can have what you want. You just might have to wait a little longer. Ted and I both came to the table with some deal breakers, and though we did compromise on a few harder issues, we both feel that our core values and core beliefs have not been compromised.

Make time for each other. It’s so easy to get caught up in this increasingly busy life. E-mails constantly stream in. Phone calls too: personal, business and sometimes a mixture of the two. There are long days at the office. Over scheduled calendars outside of work. Suddenly 24 hours in a day just doesn’t seem to be enough. In a world where we are so connected electronically, and so overscheduled in so many areas, we are becoming increasingly disconnected from our nearest and dearest. And usually the first person to suffer from our busy-ness is our partner. Don’t let that happen. Let that call go to voicemail after work. Turn off e-mail notifications on your phone. Say no to some events if you have to. Avoid the temptation to turn on the TV while you’re eating dinner with your partner. Turn it off. Sit at the table. Talk to each other. Do groceries together. Cook together. Heck, go to Costco together (I know it’s bad but my husband and I love doing this. We go up and down the aisles, and if it’s sample night, well, that just ups the ante and doubles the fun!). Think of this as regular maintenance for your relationship. Besides – you chose to be with each other in the first place, right? So make time for each other now just as you would have when you first started courting. It’s even more important now than it ever was before.

Listen. Really listen. Communication, a key ingredient to a happy relationship, starts with you. And one of the components of communication is listening. When your partner is talking, give them your full attention. Put down the book. Put down the phone. Turn away from the computer. Listen to what they’re saying. In addition to listening, also be present. Don’t start formulating your answer,  rebuttal, or opinion while they are still talking. Aside from that being incredibly rude, you will likely miss their point entirely. How can you listen to them and yourself at the same time? You can’t. Didn’t you get the memo? According to MIT scientist Earl Miller, multitasking is a myth. So don’t do it. You are not an anomaly, I’m sorry to say. Besides, don’t you want your partner to listen to you when you speak? I think you deserve that. And since they are your partner, a person you chose to be with on account of their awesomeness and your good taste, the odds are pretty good that they’ve got something pretty epic to say. Or maybe they just need you to listen. Either way, show them the respect they deserve and listen wholeheartedly when they speak. After you’re done listening and are about to share your thoughts:

Think before you speak. Remember: you cannot take back words once they’ve been spoken. You know the ins and outs of your partner and what makes him or her sensitive, angry, happy, etc. Don’t push buttons. This isn’t a game of Pacman. This is your relationship. Think before you speak and as a result, communication between the two of you will be much better off.


Those are my two cents for the day, friends. Take it or leave it. But whatever you do, love the one you’re with. I certainly do. Eyebrows, spandex and all.


Yours sincerely,