This idea is important anytime. However, with St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I thought it prudent to share a story from just a couple years back. My wife, Regina , and I were planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at an Irish friend’s house—one that actually built an authentic Irish pub in his home—go figure. Driving to the party, Regina offered to be the designated driver—allowing me the freedom to really get into the mood. It sounded good so we agreed.
At the Party
About an hour into the party, I’m sitting at the bar in my friend’s home pub enjoying some of his fine Irish whiskey and gradually “getting into the mood.” Regina strolls over to the bar, quite happy, with her newly discovered green jell-o shooters in hand. She proceeded to tell us how much she was enjoying these newly found friends. At that moment, I realized that our plans had changed. I looked at my buddy, he looked at me, and I stated quietly to him, “I’m done drinking for the evening.” I could have kept drinking, but why?
Wisdom with Age
In earlier times, I most likely would have gotten very angry at Regina for not keeping her word about being the designated driver. After all, it was agreed that I would be the one that got to drink that night. Over the years, I’ve learned that stuff happens. To some degree I have also learned to just get over it. What about you?
The Bigger Issue
While this is a timely St. Patrick’s Day party example, the bigger issue is learning to accept that things change, especially when you’ve been with someone for a long time. There are many more important issues to discuss, debate, and even argue about than whom is to be the designated driver. Once we arrived, Regina was having a wonderful time, so why in the world would I want to rob her of the experience? I believe that in order to have a successful relationship, flexibility is a cornerstone, never to be ignored.
Things Will Change
The longer you are in a relationship the more you realize that what is dependable is that things are in a constant flux. Truly, you can either fight it or go with it. So what if your partner changes his or her mind—like you have never done the same thing? Realize also, that I’m not talking about a relationship killing passive-aggressive partner that agrees now to avoid conflict and then disagrees later. That is a completely different issue. What I am simply saying is that one needs to be flexible enough to absorb situations where your partner, in the moment, honestly changes their mind. This is not an uncommon dynamic. Unexpected elements, like jell-o shooters, can change the make up of an event and how one behaves. Unexpected events can also contribute to your partner changing their mind on just about anything. You decide how you will deal with the situation; go crazy, or go with the flow? The choice is yours.
In order to help your relationship to become and remain long-term, my suggestion is that you keep this idea close to your heart and never forget: Plans Change — Stuff Happens — Get Over It.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.