I know, you’ve heard it all before, but it’s my hope this post will touch on a deeper level as far as love goes, and open your eyes to recurring issues.
Relationship advice is actually quite hard for me to give these days. My husband has been a constant figure in my life since I was 17-years-old. My dating history is pretty pathetic–I’ve had a total of 3 boyfriends my entire life, and I dated someone else very briefly. I don’t even really remember what “dating” feels like. But what I am good at is maintaining a relationship.
I don’t really believe in love at first sight, but there was some sort of connection I felt with my husband that I never quite felt with anyone else. They always say you just “know” when you’re in love, and I think this has some meaning behind it, but I also believe love comes from a much deeper level.
The number one piece of advice I always give my friends is to take things slow. This sounds stranger and stranger as people get older mostly because a yearning to settle down rears its head around ages 28-30, and Facebook’s constant engagement announcements and wedding pictures don’t help this either. It can create a superficial image for others, but this should not impact your own relationships. I think a lot of women get caught up in the “idea” of marriage–the dress, the flowers, the invitations while failing to acknowledge that they are vowing to spend the rest of their lives with the other. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “now” without at least peering into the “later.” Taking things slow enables you to really get to know the person you are with (and we all know sex just complicates things). How can you marry someone you barely know? When I started dating my husband marriage was the furthest thing from my mind (mainly because of how young we were), but our trial and errors is what made our relationship strong. We’ve hit the rockiest of bottoms relationship-wise, and we’ve experienced the highest of highs together (well, up until now). I once had a friend tell me that people have no idea what love is until they’ve hit a rough patch together–this has a lot of truth to it. It’s not the arguing or the tears; it’s how you come out of it together. There is always that initial “honeymoon” feeling, and there is always more to learn about someone. I’m still learning new things about Dan, but I know his heart and personality well because of the years we’ve spent nurturing our relationship and bettering ourselves. It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is absolutely no reason to rush.
Maintain your own individuality. This goes without saying, but it is very easy to get completely wrapped up in a relationship while abandoning your other friendships or what makes you “you.” There are plenty of things I enjoy that my husband doesn’t. There is no requirement that you have to enjoy the same things as your significant other. In fact, it is so important (for sanity’s sake) to have your own passions. What is important, however, is that the core of your beliefs and morals match up, unless there is significant discussion about compromise. I’m talking about money, religion, children, you know, the *important* discussions no one likes to talk about. Statistically, many relationship fall apart due to money problems. There is nothing worse than being with someone who is a “spender” while the other is a “saver.” Even worse is marrying someone with opposite core values. Such a gigantic gap in important decisions can cause problems, unless, of course, there is compromise. When I was 16, I dated a boy, and I allowed the relationship to consume my entire life. I was miserable. Be who you are, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise–including a man (or woman).
Trust the other with your entire heart. I don’t care what anyone says but trust is the backbone and foundation of any relationship. Once that trust is gone it can take months of therapy and healing to trust again. Most of the time, trust can never be brought back once it dies. But, you must trust from the very beginning. Just because you were hurt in the past doesn’t mean you should bring that baggage with you to the next relationship. What I mean is to respect the other’s privacy–checking a significant other’s email, voicemails or what have you is begging to destroy relationships. What you’ve just created is a monster. What is it that has made you doubt the other? Is it from a past relationship? Is it doubt about the relationship? An issue like this must be confronted with yourself or the other before it is too late. I was hurt several times in past relationships, and I hated myself when I would go back to get hurt again. But, I remained open-minded with Dan and boy did he prove all those other men wrong. Trust is on a level all on its own. I think there are many reasons people are unfaithful in their relationships–it could be unhappiness, depression or it could be for the thrill, but what’s missing is love. Being unfaithful stems from a much deeper part of someone, and it almost always means someone is unhappy in their current relationship.
Lastly, be verbal. What I mean is to keep all communication lines open. This one doesn’t need much explanation, but it is so important to be on the same level as the other, especially during hard times. I know my husband cannot read my mind, and I cannot read his. Sometimes this is hard for us because we are both pretty quiet people on our own, but I know my husband well enough to know when something isn’t right for him.
In the end, relationships are a funny thing. What works for someone may not work for someone else but that is the beauty of life. I believe there is someone out there for everyone, but it requires an open heart. Love is the greatest feeling on earth–everyone should know what it feels like.
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