10 Things I've Learned In 11 Years of Love (and 2 Years of Marriage)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I am legitimately obsessed with the idea of love-- in all its forms. When all else fails, the power of love wins.
Today Nicholas and I are celebrating 11 years of being together and (Praise GOD!) still being in love. lol Our relationship is, and has always been, one of my greatest blessings. God truly blessed me with a love that I didn't even know I was looking for. When we met in college, I had no idea that our relationship would last past a semester, let alone over a decade! All these years later I still look at Nick with passion, affection, and appreciation (even more than when we first started dating)!
Now I don't claim to be a relationship expert, and obviously every relationship is different. In any case, I figured I would share a couple things that I've learned about love and happiness over the years. ...Ya know, in case you care to hear (or in this case, read) my unsolicited two cents.
1) Love is patient and love is kind
Truer words have never been spoken. No matter the form; whether it's with your significant other, your family, or your friends-- when it comes down to it, love can't exist without patience and kindness. So in all things, when your relationships are being tested, remember to be patient and kind to one another.
2) A fairytale love "IRL" may not always appear the way it does in the books
Music, movies, television, and social media (with all its #relationshipgoals) have romanticized the way true love is supposed to "look". Money comes and goes, appearances fade away, and great sex (while it is important) isn't everything when it comes to building a relationship that can stand the test of time. What true love requires most is: friendship, passion, honesty, loyalty, and mutual respect. Those things combined (sprinkled with fun and laughter) are the formula for a true "fairytale" love.
3) There are many ways to love -- learning your partners "love language" can make everyone's lives easier
Two years ago I had a conversation with a married man who introduced me to "The 5 Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman. Excited by the conversation, I purchased the book on amazon that same night as I was on my way home. Let me tell you, it has by far been one of my favorite book purchases in the past decade.
Expressing love isn't a one-size-fits-all scenario. While we love with the best of intentions, the book essentially explains that love is expressed, interpreted, and received in different ways. The five "love languages" are: words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, acts of service, and quality time.
This book is so effective in explaining the importance of learning how to communicate the way we love, that it shouldn't be limited to couples in intimate relationships. The tools shared can be applied to relationships of all types: from parents and children, to friends, and even those at work. I highly recommend it to everyone.
4) No love is "perfect" -- except for the love of Christ
Sometimes I think of people who are constantly looking to "level up" and keeping their eyes open for "the next best thing" in their relationship and dating life. Personally, I've never really understood it. You can be looking for that person your entire life and still never be satisfied. In addition to this, you'll never be able to live in the present, so current relationships never stand a chance!
No matter anyone says, or anything you see, no love is perfect. You can have an excellent relationship in every sense, but at the end of the day we are all human-- and as humans we are all flawed. There will always be little things or habits that "annoy" you about your significant other (i.e. bad habits like leaving dishes in the sink, or forgetting to fix the bed in the morning), but what's most important is that you feel cared for, respected, appreciated, and that your relationship is founded in love and trust. If those bases are covered and your partner makes you smile at least 90% of the time, I'm sure you can get over picking up the occasional tossed underwear, and dirty dish.
ps: The only love that's perfect is the love of Christ-- because even as a human, He was perfect. But that's a whoooole other conversation... :)
5) Compromise doesn't make you weak
Life requires balance, and so does love. It takes "two to tango," and relationships are about give, and take.
Just know that as much as you have to compromise-- if you're truly in it for the long haul-- your partner is/will be willing to compromise as well. You won't win every battle, and you definitely won't always agree on everything- but you should always be willing to listen and try to see things from your partner's perspective. After all, you would want and expect the same.
6) Marriage doesn't mean the end of your dating life
Just because you've secured a ring or a name change, doesn't mean that you should get lazy. As humans, we desire to be desired. This applies to both men and women. You hear about women "letting themselves go" after getting married, but men can easily as well fall to this same quandary when it comes to sustaining the passion in their relationships.
Dates shouldn't solely be reserved for anniversaries and birthdays, but done often as a way to keep the interest/communication in your relationship alive and well. You constantly need to remember why you fell in love with each in the first place! So get dressed up, get flirty, get fresh, and put your sexiest foot forward. There's no need to look elsewhere when everything you need to see is already waiting for you every night when you get home. Your partner will love you for it (and trust, you'll love them too)!
It doesn't have to be fancy, or expensive. Plan a romantic in-house dinner and movie, hit up a museum or sports event, take a walk while having ice cream, or go on a road trip... It doesn't matter what you do as long as you're creating intentional time together.
Just keep in mind that your date nights shouldn't be one-sided, it shouldn't feel like an obligation, and it shouldn't get boring. Partners should alternate who plans the night's events. This way, even as the years pass both parties stay engaged and interested overtime.
7) Parenthood changes things
Creating life is a (fun!) and beautiful thing-- but let's be honest, parenthood is hard-- and can be even harder on your relationship. Yes, caring for your child is important, but as parents you must also remember that caring for each other is just as important. Children learn from what they see. The best way to teach them love, is to show them love-- and that starts with each other both in the home (or out of the home, in the event of co-parenting).
8) Communication is of the utmost importance
I mean, I think this one is pretty straight forward.
Keep in touch. Keep the feels. Express your thoughts, and keep it real... even when it's bothersome, and even if it hurts. It's better to get it your feelings out in the moment, than to harbor them over time until you want to explode.
9) Gratitude is the attitude, and a little appreciation always spurs motivation
Ultimately everyone just wants to feel loved and appreciated., and no one wants to be taken for granted.
Relationships involve a lot of compromise, requests, and demands (of time, money, attention, and so much more). With everything that we have going on in life, it can be so easy to forget to say thank you. Love isn't an obligation, and marriage doesn't mean these things are owed as a part of your husband/wife duties. That said, it's important to remember to show gratitude, appreciation, and thanks, whether you're two (or 65!) years in love.
10) Find the joy in everyday moments and simple pleasures
To love and be loved is a blessing and gift.
It's so easy to get sucked up in the things that we wish we had (and think we should want), that we can forget to live in the present. No matter what you're doing, and no matter what you do (or don't) have, true love inspires joy. If you're fortunate enough to have it, hold on to it and savor it for the good thing that it is.
Obbbbviously, I'm not the ultimate authority on love. But being that love is one of my favorite topics of conversation (coupled with my years of "study," experience, and surveyed research-- lol) I'd say that these tips are pretty relevant.
That said, I'd love to hear from you guys! Married or not, what are the most important lessons you've learned in love (and marriage) over the years?
For more insight about us, and our journey of love over the years check out my Hub-bae Q&A below!
Wishing you all much love and joy. #LiveRi¢h, and Happy Dream Chasing!
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