Commandment 6: Always have manners

“A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows
his portrait.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Commandment 6 might be the most obvious yet least thought about commandment on our list. It’s a shame too, because having manners and being respectful to the other person is ultimately the biggest way we show appreciation of the things they do for us.

Unlike most of the other commandments, this one is extremely straight-forward. There is nothing deep to understand like with communication, love languages, or some of the others I have written about earlier.

Simply put, if you aren’t thanking the other person every time they do something nice for you, complimenting them, or doing nice things in return for the things they do for you, your relationship is going to take a gigantic upturn once you start doing them.

If you ever let those manners slip and ever become too comfortable, you are going to start causing a rift in your relationship.

An example of good manners

Now, despite there not being much that is very cerebral in this discussion, we can definitely get into examples and things to keep in mind regarding manners.

When Laura and I ever do anything for the other, no matter how big or small, we always follow up with a thank you. Usually “Thank you, honey” or something like this. And I mean, it could be incredibly insignificant or even just something like giving a good suggestion.

An example of this happened yesterday. Laura was practicing sketching her face and needed to tape a small mirror to a wall to do this. As she had to sit next to the wall, she grabbed one of our dining room table chairs which I know she doesn’t like to sit in for long periods of time because they become uncomfortable for her.

I have a folding chair in my office that has a little more cushion and it occurred to me that she might prefer to sit in that. So, I asked her if she thought that would be better to use instead of the dining room chair as a suggestion. She hadn’t thought about it before and thought it would work better, and thanked me for both the suggestion and for being thoughtful enough to think about her.

This stuff happens every day for us and it should be happening in everyone else’s relationships as well. Let’s break this scenario down: I was being considerate and thinking about her well-being; even if it was just a small matter of her being a bit more comfortable. She reciprocated by making sure to thank me and said she appreciated how I was considerate of her. This reaffirms that doing nice things for her means a lot, even just as little and insignificant as thinking about her comfort (I didn’t actually get her the chair, though thinking about it now, I should have).

Whether it is asking the other person if they want a drink when you get up to get one yourself or just suggesting a better way to do something, manners start with being considerate and wanting to be helpful for the other person. They end with the other person being appreciative.

If you are always being kind to your significant other, there is less room for miscommunication and anger between the two of you. It sets up a wonderful environment where you always feel great and special because the other person is always being considerate and also showing their appreciation for you.

It really branches out into the rest of your relationship. An example would be that your lover will likely give you the benefit of the doubt in any situation where they might have been inadvertently hurt. If you are constantly showing them kindness, there is little incentive to believe you would do something to cause them distress. If you aren’t very appreciative or show you care much for them, then it is much easier to believe that your lack of caring led to their distress and that furthermore, you don’t even care that they are distressed.

Like many other things in life and relationships, it sets a precedent and then becomes cyclical. Kindness and happiness multiply like rabbits. If you bring some into your relationship, it will keep growing and expanding. This gets us closer to our goal of relationship bliss.

Never take anything for granted

I can’t imagine being in a household where what you do for the relationship and/or family is taken for granted. Even for things that one person is expected to do, it takes a whole 2 seconds to tell that person “thank you!” I don’t think it is too much to ask that we spend up to 30 seconds or even a minute of our day showing gratitude to a loved one with two simple words.

Let’s take a husband who goes out to work all day while his wife stays at home with the kids. It is probably expected of her to be the one to cook every night since she is home and has the time to do it while she is there, whereas it would probably be difficult for him to cook in an office.

Even with her cooking every night and it effectively being something she has to do, there is no harm in saying “Thank you for dinner.” Every single night, forever.

Likewise though, there is no harm in the wife thanking the husband for working so hard to bring in money to support her and the family so that they might have food to cook in the first place. Manners really are a two-way street.

Resentment breeds from not feeling appreciated, and pride breeds from feeling appreciated. If the husband isn’t thanking her for dinner, perhaps she starts to feel like a slave who always has to cook and takes no enjoyment from it. Food starts to get poorly seasoned or not at all, or maybe the meat gets overcooked and she simply doesn’t care. On the flip side, I know if I was being thanked for doing something all the time and being shown that the other person really appreciated what I was doing, then I might go the extra mile and try to make sure everything I did for them was great, or would maybe go above and beyond to do something special for them like cook their favorite meal more often or make them a nice dessert.

In other words, to all guys out there, you might get some sweet dessert for being so kind and appreciative towards your wife if she cooks you dinner every night. Maybe it is a cupcake, or maybe it is something even sweeter in bed later on :)

A word on being conventional

Laura and I are pretty liberal-minded when it comes to society. We are pretty big on personal freedoms, including gay marriage. Yet when it comes to our relationship, we have an interesting take on being a bit more conventional.

We both treat each other as equals and there is no “I’m the man, I rule this house” nonsense. Still, we both take on more traditional male and female roles in our relationship.

As it concerns manners, I think there is something to be said for being traditional. I always open doors for her; the only exception is maybe if I’m carrying a giant box or something. From time to time I will get out of the car first and open her passenger side car door as well, especially when it comes to big occasions. I also order at restaurants for the both of us quite often, though I don’t order for her without knowing what she wants or being asked to choose for her.

I’m not saying this works for everyone. In fact, I know people who it doesn’t work for and that is just fine. One girl who I knew briefly didn’t like having doors opened for her and used that as a way to assert her independence and equality in a relationship. I just think that for most of the general population, a modern interpretation of chivalry can be a good thing.

Summing everything up: why manners matter

The truth is, the reason we are in relationships is selfish: we want to feel loved and appreciated. We get personal gratification on an emotional level from love, otherwise we would just run around having sex with anyone who walked by and then promptly forget about them. Therefore, the less you care and the less you have manners, the more you turn into an animal, or worse, a cast member on Jersey Shore.

And this is really what having good manners in your relationship is all about: showing the other person that you love them and appreciate them for who they are and what they do for you. This is why it was so important to include in the 10 Commandments for Relationship Bliss. Regardless of how obvious it sounds, manners are simply too important to leave out on the list and are overlooked way too often.

If you are already in a relationship where good manners are the norm, keep doing what you are doing and don’t slip. However, if you haven’t been practicing this as a way of life from day to day, start noticing when the other person does ANYTHING for you, no matter how big or small, and start thanking them for it. In as little as a few days you will start to see that your relationship is happier, more peaceful, and more loving.

Categories: In A Relationship, Practical Advice, Relationship Concepts
Tags: , , ,