Folks who hail from the Emerald Isle are a famously amorous bunch (see "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" pins, smooching the Blarney Stone, the Colin Farrell sex tape ...). So in honor of St. Patty's Day, we've translated a few old Irish adages into modern terms and asked experts to explain why they're still worth taking to heart. Say what you will about leprechauns and Riverdance — when it comes to keeping relationships strong, the Irish have it down pat.
The Irish say: Love is blind to blemishes and faults.
We say: You shouldn't focus on his shortcomings just because you can see them.
Experts say: Make a running list of your guy's finer points. "Not to sound like the Irish Oprah, but there's a lot to be said for gratitude," says Bill O'Hanlon, a Santa Fe-based therapist and co-author of Love Is a Verb. "Every day for a week, write down three things you appreciate about your partner. Being thankful will become a habit." The next time you want to nitpick about the way he folds the sheets, you'll suddenly remember that he takes out the trash and puts up with your mother.
The Irish say: It's better to be sorry and stay than to be sorry and go away.
We say: Never walk away from a fight.
Experts say: To keep arguments from escalating, "make a pact with your partner that either of you can say 'Take Two!' " says psychologist Diana Kirschner, Ph.D., author of Opening Love's Door. "Kindly restart the interaction from the beginning. For example, you may have said, 'Dammit! You never help me with the kids at night.' But after one of you calls a Take Two, you might say, 'Honey, it would mean so much if you gave the kids a bath.' " The hard part: not mentioning the sludge you slung in round one.
The Irish say: You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.
We say: If something's bothering you, talk about it.
Experts say: Instead of stewing, be open — especially if you feel anger, resentment, or concerns about relationship imbalances. Just don't spew, stream-of-consciousness style. "Clearly define your feelings first," says Lissa Coffey, Ph.D., a Los Angeles sociologist and relationship expert. "Write down your thoughts and three possible solutions to each problem." Take turns talking for 10 minutes each, Kirschner suggests. That way you'll both have a chance to unload without interruption. "One partner agrees simply to listen like a good therapist, while the other talks freely about whatever's on his or her mind," she says.
The Irish say: It's for her own good that the cat purrs.
We say: Telling your guy that you like something will encourage him to do it more.
Experts say: Liberally compliment him when he acts thoughtful (e.g., picks up your dry cleaning). "Men want to please their partners, but they often don't know how," says Debbie Mandel, author of Turn On Your Inner Light. "If you gush about how happy it made you when he did something specific, he'll do it again and again."