My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary (and nearly 15 years together as a couple); and it’s a perfect time to look back at where we’ve been and look ahead to where we’re going. There are quite a few things that I’ve learned about relationships. I’d love to share them with you and hear what you’ve learned as well! I like to identify things as truths, which for me represents something I can go back to and know it’ll be reliable – anytime. Here are a few of my truths about marriage:
*All relationships require nurturing. It sounds cliche, but it’s true ~ relationships take some work. Both people need to be committed to listening, sharing, compromising, and making changes when needed. Sometimes, with those we are closest with, we might get lazy in our work. We fall into patterns. That’s normal. But, taking time to check in with one another…and making sure both people are having their needs met…is really important. Listen to your partner. Share with your partner. Give them space; take space for yourself. And hold each other – in good times and bad.
*Appreciate one another. When was the last time you thanked your partner for doing something simple like changing a diaper or cleaning the kitchen? It feels good to be appreciated; and one is likely to do more when appreciated. Gratitude journals really work in shifting your perspective…and this can be a useful tool in relationships as well. You could have a little book in your home where you write thank-you-love-notes to each other each day. Wouldn’t it be a sweet surprise to read kind words from your partner each day?
*Laugh together. It’s important to have fun together. Be silly. Make a mess. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at each other. Laughter allows us to release stress and feel connected.
*Don’t compare yourself to other couples. Sometimes you might find yourself thinking another couple has it better…or why can’t your relationship be more like…but the truth is: every relationship if different! There is much you don’t know about those other couples; and truthfully, THIS is the relationship YOU are in. Make your relationship your priority and make it a happy one.
*Continue to date one another. My best moments with my partner are often when it’s just the two of us. Don’t get me wrong, we have fun with our three kids too! But there is something great about being two adults enjoying a concert, a nice dinner, a kayak excursion, a theater show….and enjoying each other. Sometimes at home we find ourselves stuck in the same routines: cleaning up after kids go to bed, checking email, working a bit, watching tv, reading, etc. and we’re not really connecting. Date nights really re-connect couples. *Just be sure to leave hot-topics at home like chores and finances. When you’re out, have fun!
*Be open with your partner. Always. It dawned on me a while back that if we keep secrets from our partner (and I don’t mean girl-friend kind of secrets), we build a wall. Sometimes you might have to lie to cover your secret…or you might feel guilty…and these things don’t bring us closer together. They push us apart. What are you afraid of sharing? How do you think your partner will feel? Are you sure you’re right? Talk about it. Your partner is there for you – during good and bad. Let them in.
*Reflect and plan. Look back at the good times. Watch old videos, look at pictures. This allows you to remember where you’ve been together; it’s been quite a journey! It’s fun to remember all the adventures you’ve shared. And make future plans. Do you have a bucket list? What about a summer fun list? Are you saving for a weekend-getaway or family vacation? Put some fun activities on the calendar so you have things to look forward to!
*Most importantly, stay friends. In my work with families, I see that intimacy comes and goes. That’s okay! Maybe you’re not having as much sex since you got pregnant…or your toddler is sleeping in your bed. You can be physical in different ways ~ cuddle on the couch or plant kisses on each other each morning. And, some day, the more passionate intimacy will be back. It might come back and go and come again. However, your friendship should always be a priority. Do you put each other’s needs first? Do you empathize with the struggles your partner is experiencing? Do you celebrate their achievements? Don’t forget that this person is one of your best friends! Apologize if you were cranky; congratulate them on successes; support their passions; hold space for them to share with you; love them unconditionally. And remember, sometimes just holding hands is enough.
What are some truths you’ve learned about relationships?