Happy Valentine’s Day! aka Happy love day 🙂 I was thinking about sharing a Shopping Guide for Her post on all the pretty lovely things your partner can get for you for V-day, but to be honest, I never really even expect gifts on Valentine’s day or need them. For me, this day is all about celebrating my relationship, and being with each other – which is not much different than every other day (except I get to choose what take out we get :)). Dallas and I have been married for 5 years. I know that’s not a long time but over the past 5 years I’d say we have gone through some quite traumatic experiences, and through it all, our love and respect for each has only grown stronger and deeper (cheezy but true). I’m really grateful to say that my marriage is the best, most important thing in my life. In the midst of chaos, stress or heartache, I ALWAYS look forward to being with Dallas. The life and home that we have built together is my safe place and always brings me so much peace and happiness. Anyway, I won’t bore you with my love for him, because I can go on forever, but I thought I would share different practices that we have found to really strengthen our relationship.
5 Steps to a Thriving Relationship:
- Learn each other’s love languages. I read Gary Chapman’s book, “5 Love Languages” prior to dating Dallas, and I learned so much about myself. This book is a MUST read. You will learn that not everyone receives and expresses love the same. There are 5 love languages, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts and words of affirmation. When you learn what you and your partners love language is your relationship will become SO much easier. My love language is physical touch and quality time. When Dallas and I were first married, Dallas would want to go to the movie theatre on our date nights. I went with the flow, but after a couple of months I felt SO distant from him. We learned that I wasn’t receiving love in the way I like to (you can’t have quality time when you can’t talk.. and you can’t really have physical touch when your hand is knuckle deep in a popcorn bag). Learning our love languages helped us SO much!!
- Remember, some seasons are better than others. If you think your entire relationship is going to be rainbows and butterflies than you are in for a treat. It is not always fun and easy, some seasons include major heart break, busy work seasons (aka tax time), illness, family deaths, depression, financial struggle… the list goes on. It is so important to prepare yourself and your relationship for these hard times, and to be there for one another and have grace on each other. So many relationships split once it gets tough, or it’s not as fun or exciting anymore. It is so important to support one another during the challenging times, and remember that it’s just a season and not forever. After losing our baby last year neither of us were ourselves for months. I felt so robbed of joy, but I never felt guilty for not being myself because Dallas was so patient and loving towards me. He gave me the space to heal and was there when I was back to my normal self.
- Plan date nights. This one is tricky, because I know that it gets a little more challenging to spend quality time together once you have children. When Dallas and I were first married, we were really good with going on a date once a week. We’d usually drive to Vancouver and try a new restaurant, or do some sort of activity. As life gets busy with Dallas’ work and mine, and I don’t quite have the same energy being pregnant, we still make sure to have quality time at least once a week, but it just looks a little different. Sometimes these dates are at 7am when we have coffee in bed and cuddle before work, or we cook dinner at home together. Either way, we schedule it in and make sure that it happens. It is so important to connect on a regular basis, and make your partner feel like you are prioritizing them even when life is busy, because let me tell you a secret, LIFE IS ALWAYS BUSY.
- Don’t raise your voice at each other. I know this can be tricky for some people. I was raised in a passionate Egyptian home where your normal talking voice can be heard down the street. I remember when Dallas and I started dating, we had a heated conversation and I reverted back to old habits and lost my cool. Dallas looked at me and calmly said, “ya so I’m not going to be in a relationship where yelling is okay, so either we can carry on this conversation and talk or we can end this”… a little harsh but it definitely scared the yelling out of me. Since that time, we have been in the habit of not raising our voices during arguments. Don’t get me wrong, we still have heated conversations and disagree, and get annoyed with one another, but it’s always in a respectful tone.. never slamming the door on each other or walking out in the middle of a conversation.
- Be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Lets be real, life is hard. Being in your 30’s trying to navigate your career, marriage, have kids, balance friendships and be an all around good person isn’t a simple task. Everyday we are getting push back, and lots of us our working our butt’s off to make a mark in this life. I honestly believe that so much of my drive, resilience and motivation comes from Dallas’ encouragement and constant support. Not even kidding, he tells me I’m the best and that I’m the most beautiful girl in the world, and that I am so smart every day (I’m trying not to let it get to my head ;)). He never holds me back, doesn’t get jealous of my success, and is constantly helping me grow. And I really hope that I am doing the same for him. It is so important to remember that you and your partner are a TEAM. When your partner succeeds, YOU SUCCEED.
Maybe these tips aren’t for everyone, but they have definitely worked for us. I’d love to hear some of your relationship secrets, so please comment below!