As children, we imagine our love stories like that of princes and princesses. Movies and fairy tales, despite their clichés, still bring tears to our eyes with their guaranteed “Happily Ever After” endings. However, when dealing with real-life courtship, engagement, and marriage, we need to understand that a “Happily Every After” requires hard work, compromise, and investment.
Just over two years ago, I fell in love with a friend. Today, more than ever, I realize that to keep our relationship healthy, we need to choose every day to be the best we can for each other. This includes valuing small gestures, addressing our mistakes, and enjoying every moment together. When we made the decision to walk side by side, we realized that parts of us would have to change. I remember there were small things I did at the beginning of our relationship that didn’t make much difference to me, but for Viktor, they could make his day.
In my few years of experience, I have learned important lessons:
Invest in the details
There are things that are more important to your partner than to you. So, it’s important to know yourself and to know your spouse. Perhaps your partner’s love language is “physical touch” and simply reaching out to hold hands causes butterflies. Maybe the way you demonstrate and understand love is through “words of affirmation”, and when your spouse compliments you, you feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. Investing in these little things strengthens your relationship.
If you don’t know the 5 love languages, check out Evellyn’s article and quiz to help you determine yours and your partner’s.
Consider him your best friend
My boyfriend and I were friends when we started dating, but when we decided to take our relationship to the next level, we worked even harder to strengthen our friendship. Today we are best friends. Trusting someone as a good friend makes the relationship even more enjoyable. Confiding important things to your partner makes him feel important to you. Cultivate that!
Talking vs. shouting
I believe this is one of the most important things you can do for your relationship. When we’re angry, we don’t always act reasonably. Exploding is our first impulse. One of the characteristics that caught my attention about Viktor is that he is calmer than I am. He helped me learn how to communicate in a more balanced manner. I understood that when there’s a problem, conversation is the best solution. This is my favorite lesson from what I’ve learned so far.
Choose understanding and avoid complaining
Many people have fallen into the habit of complaining. This gets in the way of any relationship, romantic or otherwise. Being understanding isn’t something that we achieve overnight, however, it’s in the small things that we evolve.
Accept that you won’t be able to get together today because he won’t be able to leave work early. Understand that it won’t be possible to celebrate monthiversaries in person every month. Understand that the expensive restaurant will have to be saved for next time. Comprehension in these details makes a difference.
It’s also important to remember that your partner can’t read your mind. It isn’t his responsibility to fulfill your unspoken expectations, even if they’re painfully obvious to you. While tough to hear, it’s not fair to complain when the other doesn’t automatically do what we wish they would. Now would be a good time to refer to our previous lesson above.
Trust that God takes care of every detail
I confess that I have a strong personality, and knowing that I would have to change some things about myself bothered me a little. Who likes to be reprimanded, right? But I understood this change would be important for my relationship and for my individual life. However, I knew that I could only change if God helped me to change. As always, He didn’t disappoint. He took care, and continues to take care, of every part of me that needs to be renewed.
If God is present in our relationship, no disappointment will overturn what He has approved. Place your love in the care of the One who is Love.
Dear reader, to keep your relationship alive, it’s necessary to cultivate it. It won’t always be easy, but if you work together from a foundation of divine love, your relationship will flourish. There is a phrase I love by Saint-Exupéry, a French writer, that says: “It was the time you devoted to your rose that made it so important.” Spend time on your relationship, overcome the small obstacles, and when bigger ones appear you will be able to overcome them by the love that unites you.