Throughout our generation I think it is safe to say we have all wanted to be a spy at some point, even if it was just for a moment. They are just plain cool. Look at James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and everyone in Men in Black. They get to travel the world and drive cool cars. They get to solve crazy mysteries, stop the bad guys and get the girl. Above all, they get cool gadgets.
But these guys we think of aren’t real spies. They are only fictional characters. The real spies generally went unknown and didn’t have the flashy cars or super advanced technology. They dangerously traded information for less exciting but greater causes and didn’t get recognition for it. They were real manly men (and women).
Let’s look at a real hero, a real spy, and see what we can take away from him. Then we will go one step further and evaluate what we can learn from spies to bring to the table in a relationship.
The Greatest Spy of WWII
Richard Sorge was a German communist and one of the most important Soviet spies during WWII. He joined the German army in WWI and was later medically discharged due to his injuries. He lost three fingers and broke both of his legs. After this point he became a Communist and joined the German Communist party. However, his political beliefs lost him his jobs as a teacher and a coal miner. After this he fled to Soviet Russia.
Later that year, Sorge was sent back to Germany-the country he fled for fear of his life and freedom- where he was instructed to join the Nazi Party. His cover was that he was a journalist for an agricultural newspaper. He was then sent to Shanghai China a year later and remained undercover as a German journalist. He met up with several spies in China including Max Clausen and Ursula Kuczynski. Sorge traveled around China keeping in contact with members of the Chinese Communist Party.
In 1933, Russian military decided relocate Sorge to Japan to organize a spy network. They first sent him to Berlin to renew military contacts and to find a newspaper assignment he could do while in Japan. He integrated himself into the Nazi party ranks, laying a foundation and gaining prestigious friends and references within the party. After obtaining four jobs from different newspapers in Germany, he moved to Japan. During this time Sorge established a wide ring of informants including senior politicians.
During his time in Japan, he discovered information about Operation Barbarossa- a plan that involved four million soldiers from the Axis Powers invading Russia on June 22 of 1941. He promptly notified both Moscow and Stalin about this new development and while Moscow responded with thanks, Stalin chose to ignore Sorge’s warning. Russia was invaded- thanks to Stalin, but the Axis Powers did not make it into Moscow. This is a huge point in history because not only did it save Russia but this was the first crack in the seemingly impenetrable Axis Shield. This was the first time Germany had suffered a tactical defeat in war. If it hadn’t been for Sorge, there wouldn’t be much left of Russia.
Now that the history lesson is over, what can we learn from Sorge and general behavior of other spies that we can contribute to our relationships?
- 1. Listen
The number one most important thing to have a good relationship (or to be a successful spy) is to be a good listener. If your partner feels it’s important enough to say, then it’s important enough to listen to. It’s all about respecting them and their feelings.
- 2. Pay Attention
Seriously, pay attention to what’s going on. Do you think Sorge was dinking around off in his own little world twiddling his thumbs? No. Look around and notice what is happening. Is she really quiet brooding in a corner? Chances are trouble’s brewing.
- 3. Logic
Elementary, my dear Watson. Use your deductive reasoning skills. If she is brooding in a corner, chances are #2 or #1 didn’t happen. But come on guys, use your heads. If you can navigate a video game and figure out the next step, you got this. If you really can’t figure it out, just ask (but not in a way that gets you thrown in the clink).
- 4. Fight for your Cause
A great cause doesn’t come without working for the results. Go out of your way to make an effort for your cause. If she’s pissed at you, don’t huff off. You butter her up. Keep asking yourself ‘is she worth fighting for’? Do you want to live your life with her? If your answer is yes, then you fix it.
- 5. Leave No Trace
As my ex-wife would say, leave no trace. Let’s face the facts: women put a lot of effort into appearances. They try to look their best. They shave, put on makeup, do their hair, wear reliably clean clothes, shower every day, and generally keep a clean house. There is nothing more frustrating than putting in a lot of effort only for it to go unnoticed and see someone thoughtlessly undo your hard work in seconds. Just remember to pick up your pungent boxers of the week and put your dish in the dishwasher when you are done. It will cut down the fighting and passive aggressive behavior by an unimaginable amount. So let me say it again- leave no trace. Unless you want yourself to be known (*hint: get her flowers).
- 6. Pick Your Battles
I know it’s hard but know when to keep your mouth shut –pick your battles. If you are going to venture down that dangerous road- like a spy- choose wisely and make it count. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so it better be good.
- 7. Be a Leader
Women want a strong independent leader that they can count on to follow through without micromanagement. When something needs done, man up and take initiative. It will not go unnoticed. Hard work that you did on your own is attractive (or so I hear). Sorge had four newspapers he was working for when he went to Japan, and that wasn’t even his real job!
- 8. Network
A good healthy relationship isn’t always about the two of you being together. Space is a necessary thing to have. A lot of couples will go through the same trend where they are so smitten that their friends fade out of their circle and then you only have each other. A network is important. Like a spy, if you only have one source you are in contact with, you aren’t going to be very successful. A stagnant relationship is not a good thing.
- 9. Stay Composed
Remain cordial with the enemy. So your girlfriend’s sister is the spawn of Satan. Deal with it. The point is she is important to someone important to you. You aren’t going to have to live with her for the rest of forever. Just play nice until you can get away from her. Your efforts will eventually pay off.
- 10. Go with the Flow
During Sorge’s time as a spy he lived in Solingen, Frankfurt, Ilmenau, Moscow, Britain, all over China, Japan and was even in the U.S. for a very short time. He had to have gotten comfortable and made friends or even developed relationships along the way but he didn’t fight his reassignments or drag his feet. He went with the flow and took life one step at a time.
Author’s Bio: David Burr is a freelance writer for Spyville. He spends his time writing, rereading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works and playing with gadgets.