The other day our family went out to eat at Taco Bell.* We set up camp near a young couple who appeared to be on a date. (Setting up camp is what it’s like to take two young boys out to eat anywhere.) Between directing our kids to eat their food, getting more napkins, and re-explaining the various types of cheese, we casually observed the date at the next table.
We learned a lot from watching the young couple set sail upon the waters of relationship building. Married folk like us may think we are way more advanced in relationships than this young inexperienced couple, but the lessons are for us too.
- Be the star of the show. This guy in Taco Bell talked non stop. He didn’t even pause while chewing his food. If your date wanted a show, they would have simply gone to a movie. For a real relationship to grow you must interact. When you spend time with your spouse, let them talk. Shut up enough to have a real conversation. Show your interest in your date by really listening to what they have to say.
- Talking and eating go well together. Occasionally we have to remind our three year old to use his manners, your spouse shouldn’t have to remind you. Simple manners like eating with your mouth closed, are important for all relationships. Manners display a level of maturity and respect.
- As long as you are funny it’s fine to insult your date. The guy in Taco Bell was not complimentary of his friend. I don’t get that. She was spending her time eating with him, at least he could be nice, it’s not too much for her to expect. The same goes for your spouse, they agreed to marry you, at least use nice words, it’s a reasonable expectation. Humor is awesome but using humor to excuse criticism is a connection killer.
- Guard your stuff. The guy in Taco Bell was well past kindergarten; he should have known the concept of sharing. But when she reached for a nibble of his food he told her he was not sharing. Umm, it’s just one or two mexi-fries dude, you will survive without them. Married people can become overly possessive of their stuff too. If your spouse reaches for your phone or drives your car to work, don’t get upset. Healthy couples know how to share, willingly.
- Make your point clear by hitting. The guy at Taco Bell swatted her hand away when she jokingly reached for his food. This dating technique is a major problem. Never hit your date. Touching is an important way to communicate closeness, care, and connection in relationships. Hurtful touches, no matter the intention, damage relationship and destroy trust needed for building good relationships.
- Be stingy. From what I could tell, the guy in Taco Bell didn’t pay for her food. I know it may be old fashioned for the guy to always buy on a date, but it was Taco Bell, it wouldn’t have broke the bank. Married folk, avoid getting into a lifetime of deciding if it is his or her bill to pay. Combine your finances and live on a budget. Above all else, always be on the lookout for how you can be more generous toward your spouse.
What have you learned by observing other couples?
*This post was developed after observing real interactions while in a Taco Bell. In no way do I intend to disparage Taco Bell or anyone for eating at Taco Bell. Taco Bell is awesome. In this post I refer to the young man on his date as “Taco Bell Guy” because he was a guy in Taco Bell; he was not an employee of Taco Bell. While I observed individuals at Taco Bell I did not talk to them, I do not know them, what they were discussing, or the nature of their relationship. If you believe, through my descriptions of this couple, it was you, then I hope you learned something. You never know when you may be on a date next to a marriage counselor.
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