The other day while reading The Paper Bag Princess and Amelia Bedelia to my granddaughter, I realized these children’s books contain a couple of valuable relationship nuggets.
Relationship nugget #1 is from The Paper Bag Princess. . . DON’T MARRRY A BUM.
The Paper Bag Princess tells the story of a princess named Elizabeth who was going to marry a prince named Ronald but a dragon came along and smashed her castle, burned her clothes, and carried off Ronald. So Elizabeth makes herself a dress out of a paper bag, tracks the dragon down, and encourages him to wear himself out doing outrageous feats. After he’s out stone cold, Elizabeth finds Ronald and rescues him.
At this point Ronald says, “Elizabeth, you are a mess! You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess.”
To which Elizabeth responds, “Ronald, your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum.”
The book ends with “They didn’t get married after all” and there’s a picture of Elizabeth dancing off into the sunset.
So, before you seriously consider marrying someone allow yourself to be in lots of different situations where you can see the real sides of each other. Take your time getting to know them and look at them from all angles and if there’s any indication that you’ve got a Ronald do yourself a big favor and walk away fast. When you’re working with a Ronald there’s little hope that things will improve down the road.
Relationship nugget #2 is from Amelia Bedelia. . . HAVE AN ASSET.
In the book Amelia Bedelia, Mrs. and Mr. Rogers hire Amelia to clean their house but can’t be there on her first day so Mrs. Rogers leaves Amelia with a list. Amelia takes the list literally and does EXACTLY what Mrs. Rogers has written. When Mrs Rogers comes home she’s shocked and unhappy with Amelia, but just when she’s ready to tell her “you’re fired” Mr. Rogers puts a piece of lemon meringue pie in her mouth, and she forgets all about being mad.
Turns out that Amelia Bedelia makes the most AMAZING lemon meringue pies ever and that’s her saving grace. So Mrs. Rogers learns to speak Amelia’s language, Amelia learns to clean the house to Mrs. Rogers satisfaction, and Amelia makes lots of delicious lemon meringue pies that both Mr. and Mrs. Rogers love. So everyone ends up happy.
So learn a skill that makes you irresistibly attractive. Or develop an irresistible (or at least pleasing) personality. Be the sort of person other people want to be around.
When I got pregnant and married at seventeen I had NO IDEA what I was getting into. I wasn’t an Elizabeth or even an Amelia and I didn’t bring a lot to the table and basically I married a Ronald, so how we lasted for sixteen years I don’t know! After we got divorced I dove straight into second and then third equally ill-fated marriages.
I don’t share this with you so you’ll think I’m an epic failure at relationships but simply to assure you that I have experience and I’ve learned some important things over the years.
I know that once you’re married it’s easy to get complacent and in a rut, and let unhappy and frustrated emotion build up until it leads to painful blow ups and splits. Successful marriages require effort and work and there are some basic things you can do to get good results.
Focus on what’s right with your partner and learn to speak their language. Patiently work at partnering with them, and keep focusing on what you LOVE about them. Remember what made you fall in love. Act like you’re still dating and still try to impress them. Be genuinely nice and fun to be around!
Don’t point your finger and blame whenever things go wrong, and don’t throw your spouse under the bus. Be responsible for own words and actions and don’t be above apologizing and saying I’m sorry.
Dwell on the things you love most about your spouse and give them sincere compliments often. Put continual effort into improving your self and becoming the best and brightest person you can be! And do your best to wear out the words, thanks and I love you.
Whether you’re married or not, upgrading yourself and going out of your way to treat other people with kindness and respect is always going to pay off nicely.