By Aaron Traister, REDBOOK
Game of Thrones, the hugely popular fantasy book franchise and TV series, recently started it's second season on HBO. Game of Thrones has a lot to teach us about politics, faith, human nature, and dragons, but what insights can George R.R. Martin's realpolitik fantasy masterpiece offer in the realm of the heart? Are there any tips we can glean from Khal Drogo and the rest of the gang on how to have a more successful union? Well, actually, there aren't many, but I cobbled together the few there are have been into a handy five-point list of love's Do's and Don'ts straight from the Isle of Westeros.
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1. Do: Love your partner's pets. I cannot stress this point enough: If the prince your parents have arranged for you to marry kills your enchanted dire wolf after your first date, that's a deal breaker (or should be). Seriously, you can judge a man by how he treats the pets you love, whether it's Mr. Sniffles your elderly house cat who smells like pee, or Drogon the cruel leather-winged demon dragon of the night. To paraphrase a line from Dirty Dancing (which is like the '80s version of Game of Thrones): "No one puts Drogon in a basement."
2. Don't: Keep secrets. This is obvious; open communication is the cornerstone to any successful relationship. Even secrets kept with the best of intentions can end up backfiring. Whether it's about how you returned the jeans she got you for your birthday or the identity of the other woman who bore your child out of wedlock after you were already married and away at war for the throne in the southlands, secrets can add a level of pressure and strain to familial relationships and make family reunions and barbecues very uncomfortable.
3. Do: Limit your exposure to marital dangers, like zombies and undead super bears-I think this one is pretty self explanatory.
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4. Don't: Let work come before family. Earning a living for your family is important, especially when it's a job you believe in or one that needs to be done. Nevertheless, when that job begins to have a negative affect on your family, it's time to quit. A hostile work environment takes its toll on everyone including your partner and your kids. At some point you have to step back from whatever expectations you have professionally and look at the personal cost of your business, whether your in marketing, sales, or in charge of protecting a drunken self-destructive monarch and his kingdom. If you find yourself about to be publicly beheaded and your family is scattered to the four corners of the realm, then you probably had your priorities in the wrong place. Don't let it get to that place - a monster 401(k) isn't worth it.
5. Do: Be assertive. If a witch tricks you and poisons your husband in the desert, turning him into a vegetable and leaving you at the helm of his sprawling but rapidly deteriorating empire, make your wants and desires known. Stand up for yourself, burn that witch, send your husband off in the manner in which he lived and hatch your dragons. Dragons will make everything better, but the only way to get those dragons is through confidence and assertiveness.
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