Save some money!  Here are a few pointers on how to be a healthier person and have healthier relationships:

1)  Consider replacing the word “should” with “could” EVERY time you use that word.  The word “should” is such a strange word.  What does it really mean?  “You SHOULD… according to whom?  According to someone else?  According to an arbitrary set of rules you’ve grown up with?  Replace it with “could” and your options will not only open up, but what you end up doing will be more in tune with what YOU choose rather than what some arbitrary rule states you “should” choose.

2)  You can be “right”, or you can have a healthy relationship.  Think about it.  Some of us have been brought up to believe there’s ONE “right” way to do things.  In reality, there are multitudes of ways to do the same thing, all of which, which when acted upon, lead to a slightly different outcome.  For example:  Say a couple is driving to a dinner party for which they are late.  They get in an argument along the way about which route to take.  One route might be 2 miles longer; on the other hand, the other route might be bogged down with traffic.  No matter which route they take, they will inevitably end up being late.  If they are 15 minutes late, but arrive at the party arguing with each other, is that necessarily “better” than if they are 20 minutes late but arrive at the party in good spirits?

     With cooking, there are many different ways to prepare a particular dish.  So many people believe there’s only ONE “right” way to cook.  If you vary your preparation a bit, the outcome will be slightly different than if you follow the recipe word for word.  “Different” doesn’t mean it’s “WRONG”; it just means it’s different.  Even if you’re a chef for a 4-star restaurant, whose business depends on customers expecting the exact same thing each time they order it, the way you prepare it doesn’t make it the “right” way.  It just makes it “your” way.

     Some people ask me, “What’s the “right” thing to do (in any given situation)?”  I usually respond, “Well, there are probably infinite ways of doing it, each having a slightly different outcome— so what outcome are you hoping for?  And which way of doing it will increase the likelihood that you will achieve the outcome you want?”

3)  Healthy relationships stem from being on the same team together.  If you see your partner as an adversary, you will end up taking a defensive stance toward him/her and you will end up fighting as adversaries tend to do.  Try giving your partner the benefit of the doubt instead.  Instead of assuming that s/he has ulterior motives, consider the possibility that s/he simply is stating a preference.  Then you won’t feel insulted or compelled to “compete” as a way to simply hold your ground.

4)  For any relationship to be mutually respectful, it is inevitable that each partner will need to relinquish some preferences in order to effectively compromise.  Expecting to have everything “your way” will work only if by some bizarre coincidence“your way” is ALWAYS the same as your partner’s way.  If having everything “your way” is so important to you, then consider living by yourself instead of insisting your partner conform to your every preference.  Relationships involve compromise.  Be prepared and willing to do that if you want to be in one.

5)  Consider the possibility of not keeping ANY secrets from each other.  Secrets in any relational system are TOXIC.  Holding on to secrets will eventually and inevitably lead to feelings of mistrust and betrayal.  What secret is worth that?  This includes all secrets— those between partners, and those between parents and their children.  Building trust requires being fully transparent with each other.  If you feel compelled to take action on something that you will not feel comfortable sharing with your partner (or children), think twice before doing so.  Resisting impulses isn’t easy, but giving into them can lead to your relationship ending.  You may get by with having your cake and eating it too in the short run, but, trust me, it will always, at some point, come back to haunt you.

6)  If you do end up hiding something from your partner, and s/he finds out (and believe me, s/he will find out), you will have to accept the reality that s/he will no longer feel able to trust you from that point on.  You will want to “put it behind you”, because it’s troublesome to “deal” with it on an ongoing basis.  But trying to “put it behind you” will only INCREASE your partner’s feelings of being dismissed.  You will have to take full responsibility for your betrayal, and to be patient and understanding with your partner’s difficulty trusting you again.  It will be YOUR job to earn back his/her trust.  To respond with annoyance or impatience everytime s/he brings the issue up will only serve to foster his/her mistrust of you.  It will be the “betrayed one’s” job to constantly monitor and assess whether or not s/he can eventually trust you in the future.  On the outside chance that s/he never does find out, consider the impact of keeping this secret will have over time on the relationship between the two of you.  In Pink Floydian terms, it will just add another brick in the wall.