Fun fact: I’ve fallen in love.
I know – it’s hard for me to believe as well. But here I am, going into the fifth month of a relationship and I am madly, hopelessly in love.
Again, I know – five months is not a long time when there are couples who have been married for 10, 25, 50 years. But I think we can take wisdom from any stage of life and so, in honor of the anniversary of five months with the love of my life, here are some things I’ve learned about being in a relationship.
1. The person you’re with shouldn’t be a necessity, they should be a desire.
This summer I wrote about wanting to be in a relationship but not wanting it to be my entire identity. I think I learned this concept a little too well. Honestly, at the end of the summer, I was completely content being single for the rest of my life and never being in a relationship. I didn’t think I needed a man to completely and frankly, I was right. I don’t need a man for me to be whole or successful. Getting to know Matt, though, changed my perspective on why I should date.
I didn’t need Matt, I still don’t need Matt. But I want Matt. I want to do life with him. I want to spend every day by his side. I want to be there on the tough days and the good days. I want to cry with him, laugh with him, fight with him and scream with him. I want to trust God with him but I am in no way dependant on him for my security, my identity or my relationship with God.
On my own, I am a perfectly capable person but we enjoy each other’s company and therefore we want to spend our lives together.
I think too many relationships have been ruined by codependency. When your entire foundation for your life becomes another person it’s no longer a desire to please the other person simply because you want them to be happy. It becomes solely about yourself because you can’t bear to live life without them and therefore selfishly don’t want to lose them.
2. Say you’re sorry first.
The pictures I post are deceiving. Believe it or not, Matt and I fight – shocking I know. But I think we’ve both decided that even when we fight, we don’t just want to stay mad at each other. We usually will say our passive aggressive comments, wait two minutes (sometimes three if I’m being stubborn), realize how dumb we are and apologize right away.
We’ve learned that fighting and staying mad at each other doesn’t actually solve anything. It’s better if we just talk about what hurt us, why things like that do hurt us and then kiss and make up. Why would I want to stay mad at my favourite person in the world? Why would I want to continually hurt them by holding a grudge?
I’ve learned to say sorry first because we can solve many more problems when we’re working together rather than when we’re working against each other.
3. Find a grace-filled person.
News flash: a relationship doesn’t magically fix all the problems you had when you were single. In fact, your issues are highlighted even more.
When looking for someone that could potentially be your forever, please make sure they are full of grace. This is the person that is going to see every. Single. Part. Of. You. They’ll know you at your darkest and at your brightest. If they can’t forgive you for little things, how can you expect to trust them with the massive sins you’ve committed in your life?
Matt (aside from Jesus, obvi) is the most grace-filled person I know. There hasn’t been a time where he has held something against me for long and because of that, I have been able to trust him with more and more parts of myself. Find someone like Matt who, no matter what you throw at them – whether it be a bad mood, tears, a confession, a sassy comment – will take each punch and turn around to forgive you and love you.
4. Figure out how they feel loved.
One of the first things Matt asked me after we started dating was how I felt loved and cared for. I asked him the same and since that day we have strived to love each other well; not in the way we think the other should feel loved but in ways that they personally feel love.
Sometimes this may take you out of your comfort zone and push you to act in ways that don’t come naturally to you but that’s what we’re meant to do for love, isn’t it?
This seems like a simple task but it is so, so important. Each person needs to be giving 100% in a relationship. We should be constantly trying to make our significant other feel loved, valued, and worthy and the second we stop trying, is the second that relationship starts to die. Never stop trying to love one another.
5. Talk to each other.
Again, seems simple. But this is the most important one. Go to the other when there are issues in the relationship. Please, please, whatever you do – do NOT rag on your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife to your friends. This is the most toxic thing you could do for a relationship.
If you have issues with one another – TALK
If you have issues with life – TALK
If you have issues with friends – TALK
If you have issues with yourself – TALK
That person is there to be your support system, your best friend, your confidant. Talk to them, let them into the deepest, most intimate part of you and let them help you. They want to (and if they don’t, that’s a different issue).
Along with this, never stop learning about them. Ask them about their childhood, learn about their friends and the drama that went down in 7th grade. Learn their favourite cooking show and what they like to do when they’re bored and hungry.
Life and relationships are a journey and a process. You’re going to fail time and time again but never stop giving grace, never stop learning about one another, and never stop loving each other.
And to the man who has changed my life completely – I love you, I love you, I love you. You’re the best thing.