Or Have I? You Tell Me.
When it comes to love, I am a newbie.
I am not experienced in the ways of love and romance.
I have no idea what I am doing.
I did not feel prepared at all to spend my life with another person, sharing everything with them.
Nothing in all our experiences of youth can prepare us for something so drastic. Something so permanent. To spend, literally, the rest of your life with another seems like a daunting task.
However in my years of marriage I have learned a few things:
Fear is Powerful
I get full of fear at times.
- Fear that I will mess it up somehow.
- That I have picked the wrong person.
- That I will get hurt.
- That I will be miserable.
I know there are up and down times to every life, and yet I fear those down times with a passion. There is just something within me that whispers “you have done it all wrong and now you are stuck.”
What do I do?
There are Good Times
Then there are the up times.
The times where I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
I have met my soul mate, the one I was meant to be with, and we will be together forever. There is no looking back during the high points. No regrets or even thought of what might have been. I am unable to picture my life without this person at my side, without our hands intertwined.
This is perfection and I revel in these moments.
There are Boring Times
These are the times when nothing seems to happen.
- You are both busy or stressed or bored.
- Nothing sounds good.
You are not having fun, but you are not really fighting either.
Everything in the world seems kind of grey and boring. You feel listless and unsatisfied. Breaking out of the doldrums is difficult at times, but worth the effort.
Life can't be always perfect, always exciting, always on.
Sometimes you need the boring times to remind you what fun is like.
There are Bad Times
Then there are the down times.
Those times when I feel like I could happily walk off and never look back.
The times in which I am hurt and angry, upset and confused.
- How can one person do this to me?
- How could I let someone in, let someone close enough to hurt me this badly?
- Why wasn't I more careful?
- Why wasn't I wiser?
- Why did I choose this path?
The questions whirl around in my mind and I fight the urge to lash out, to hurt and hurt alike. To get vengeance for slights and see my betrayed expression reflected back at me.
But I don't.
I do not lash out, hurt back, because I know that is not what love is. Love is not about hurting the person that hurt you. That is the fastest way to a broken relationship. Instead it is about transcending the bad times and accepting that you are both human.
You make mistakes, you hurt and get hurt and life moves on.
Feeling loving is different than being loving.
The feeling of being in love with someone can ebb and flow.
Sometimes you love them a lot and other times you can barely stand to be around them. However the key is constancy. You need to act the same whether you are feeling loving or not. You need to provide the same support, give the same number of hugs and kisses, and just be yourself around them no matter how loving you feel.
You see, just because the feeling fades does not mean that you fade.
You should have enough love, the act not the feeling, to be the person that you need to be.
When to Listen
Listening is underrated.
Many times in life I have just needed someone to listen and others have just needed me to listen.
That does not mean I have to listen and fix something or listen and take on the guilt or worry or stress?
No, real listening is just about giving your undivided attention to another. Listening is simple and yet hard. You have a thousand other things you could be doing with your time but you chose to listen. That is why listening is such a wonderful thing to do.
Know when to listen and how to listen.
Do not think about what you are going to say.
When to Speak
Communication is an important part of a strong, lasting relationship.
I am not just talking about discussing your meal plans or when you have to work late, but real communication.
- Expressing your needs and desires.
- Setting boundaries and goals for the two of you in life.
- Talking about hard things like money or children.
I have always had a hard time expressing my emotions, but I have learned that it is necessary to do so in order to have a strong and healthy relationship that will last. No one can read your mind. You have to tell people what they do to upset you, what makes you happy and what you can't stand.
Use your words and learn how to share your thoughts and feelings with another. Not everyone has the same needs. I may need my partner to hug and kiss me to feel loved, but my partner may need me to say nice things or help out around the house or give gifts.
We all have different needs and desires and it is only by communicating that you can really understand another person.
Don't be a Martyr, Don't be a Thief
There are three types of people in relationships.
The healthy people
and the thieves.
Healthy people give and get love equally.
They expect their partner to give them the love they need to be happy and healthy and they freely give their partner what they need to be happy and healthy.
A martyr is a person who gives and gives and expects nothing in return.
They are continually empty of love because they donât ask for it. Even the most loving of partners has to rely on you to tell them what you need. Otherwise they will assume that you are getting it!
Do not be miserable in your relationship because you feel like you are giving all the love. Sometimes you have to ask for what you need. This does not lessen the love you get at all! Do not fall under the fallacy that your partner should just ‘know' what you need.
Ask to get your needs met.
Eventually your partner will get the idea, but only after you have expressed and enforced it many times over!
The last type of person is the thief.
They take and take and take love without ever giving any in return. Or what they do give is so small that it is laughable.
Some people do this because that is the way they grew up, some do this out of ignorance or thinking that they are giving in a way you do not recognize, others do this because they are selfish, plain and simple. However thieves can be reformed. You have to demand what you need from them. It is not fun and if they refuse then you may have to reconsider your relationship with them.
It is very hard to have a relationship that is one sided.
Praise is Important
Last but not least, remember to praise your partner.
- Everyone needs to be lifted up.
- The world around us is always looking for ways to tear us down.
We are not pretty enough or thin enough or rich enough or smart enough. Make sure that your partner knows how much you appreciate them. Even in the little things be mindful of giving praise.
Taking out the trash, wiping up a spill, and drying the dishes are all worthy of praise. Be happy to see them come home, whether they have been gone thirty minutes or thirty days. Lifting your partner up with positivity will not only make them feel better but will make you appreciate them more.
Yes, we all have faults and things we could do better, but you should be the one pointing out all the things your partner does right.
Being married is not an easy road to take, especially when you are in it for a lifetime. However it is well worth the effort and I am thankful every day for the relationship I have.
I feel blessed to have someone who I can count on, who I can love and who loves me in return.
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