Hey party people! Welcome to the fourth installment of “Relationships: So Easy a Caveman Can Do It!” Today's topic is either easy or ambiguous depending on what your point of reference is, but as the title states, I think it's easy… Kinda like your dad. See what I did there? Totally going against the grain with a “your dad” joke. Not funny? Fail. Moving on! Today's topic is about “Effort” within a relationship. What? Effort? What could the Urban Dater mean? Pay attention dear reader and learn
This article, for some reason, has been a difficult one for me to write… I've re-written it twice! I'm not sure why that is… Perhaps it's the whole effort thing and the part of me, that asshole kid who terrorized my poor mum when I was young, that just likes to rebel for the sake of rebelling… What the hell am I saying? I don't know! Let's get to the rest of the article, kids.
Effort. What is it? A quick query into the Urban Dater Robotto DX 9000 returned this: Effort = “Use of physical or mental energy; hard work to achieve something.” Yeah, I can get behind that, thanks Mr. Robotto.
You sometimes make a conscientious effort and sometimes you make an effort without realizing it. However, that's not really as common as many of us would like it to be; I'd like effort to be automatic sometimes, like breathing or blinking. That's not realistic.
Just the word “effort” implies a certain level of work.
Anything worth doing is worth making an effort for. This goes for pretty much anything in life. If someone wants to become a doctor, that person had better be prepared to put in a lot of effort and go to school for a long time. If someone wants to become a bodybuilder, they'd best be hitting those weights… Steroids are also an option here, though not legal… You understand what I'm getting at. Relationships require a similar mentality. Eventually, with the passage of time, the effort you make becomes “just a part of your day.”
I think that gestures of effort are so defined because of their quality and not so much their quantity. That is, you may not make an effort every day, but being consistent is what's important; quality being greater than quantity.
One way I've made more of an effort is with the gal I'm seeing. We've dated two separate times over the past year. The first time I was very casual about things. If I didn't see her during a week I didn't think twice about it… I'd be more likely to decline invites to outings with her family or friends… This time around, things are different. We're different. I make an effort to be there for her if she needs me. Not long ago she was concerned over some family medical issues. I offered to visit and spend some time with her. I make an effort to be there at family/friend functions as well. I don't think about it like, “Well, I better make an effort do this thing today.” I just do these things…
She's taken a more important role in my life. I don't have to tell her so, though it's nice to hear, but my actions tell the story that I am making more of an effort to really “be there” for her, not only that but to let her be there for me, too.
That's not the only way that effort manifests itself, however. You see, part of it is merely “taking your partner's pulse.” What I mean is that you make a point to take an interest in the things your partner does. It could be as simple asking them about their day… Simply put, just listening; asking questions. Another way to show effort is simply to be a giving person. I'm not saying showering your significant other with gifts. But the occasional gift is nice; think “little things.” It shows thought and has the nice side effect of coming back to you.
In thinking about this topic I'm reminded of a conversation that I had with a friend of mine, Jim. I reminded Jim that he should begin thinking about things to do for Valentine's Day (last year he was asking me for advice two days before V-Day). He said to me, “You know, man, Janie (Jim's wife) did her Maid of Honor speech at a wedding last weekend. In that wedding she said that you don't go all out crazy for those few special days of the year like Valentine's, Christmas or Easter. When you love someone you make a little effort every day.” Wow. Jim's on to something there, or his wife is at least. =) Think about that, though. How true is that? Being active and making an effort is something we ought to do every day, not just special days…
Effort really is more about the little things every day.