I’ve been with Eddy for nearly two years, and he very recently got down on one knee and made me his fiancée. I still can’t stop looking down at my ring (going on three months now), and my Pinterest boards are full of mason jars, lace, and lavender bouquets. I love knowing that I get to spend the rest of my life with my fiancé and can’t wait to trade in our new titles for the sacred husband and wife roles.
Part of the reason why I’m so ready to commit to Eddy is because during the course of our relationship we’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow together (myself especially) and to figure one another out. While we have so many years to go before we can be regarded as a well-established, wise couple, there are a few things we’ve been able to learn to prioritize over the past couple years.
Here are 5 things that help make a relationship strong:
1. Use Effective Communication
It’s pretty widely accepted that communication should be a top priority in relationships, and with good reason! I really can’t stress how important I’ve found this to be in all my relationships, and especially this one.
Communication brings intimacy into a relationship as two people share their hopes and dreams, fears and failures. Even beyond the basics of how many kids you’d like to have and where you’d like to live, it’s important to dig even deeper and evaluate your expectations. There are so many different sources we gather our expectations from: our past experiences, social media, movies, family culture, and other people’s relationships. Did your dad always handle the finances as you were growing up and therefore you expect your man to take care of it when you’re married? What are his expectations about family holidays and how you two will be spending them? Have you spent a ton of time on social media and expect to decorate your house a certain way? Do you expect equal effort in parenting and involvement with your children?
If you don’t identify your expectations, evaluate whether they’re reasonable or not, and then communicate them to your partner, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Learning to express your feelings and expectations respectfully and listening to your partner share their perspective are the first steps towards growing in your relationship.
2. Practice Healthy Compromise
Compromise is another critical element that I’ve had to learn more about with my fiancé. Even if you can communicate effectively, that doesn’t mean you’ll always agree with your partner—the art of compromise should come into play early on as well.
Obviously, there are certain things that are not up for compromise, and you’ll need to have frank conversations about what those things are for you. I can’t imagine my relationship being able to grow without Eddy and I sharing our faith and our values. I love that we do share these things and that we’re both on the same page. It’s important to note that personal beliefs are not the same as personal preferences. I don’t have to compromise on the important things (neither does he), but I can compromise on where we go to eat, what we choose to watch on Netflix, and even who’s family we spend time with on certain holidays. Working on being considerate and compromising in preferences really helps if you and your partner are ever at odds with things.
3. Eliminate Comparison
I’ll probably go to my grave using this in all my writings, but I can’t stress this one enough. There are couples everywhere and thanks to social media we get to see their relationships play out in all their rosy, perfectly lit glory. Every good moment can be categorized and presented, and if you don’t know these couples personally it can be tempting to believe that every other couple has a more exciting, fun, or romantic relationship than you do. It’s worth repeating that everyone is different, and therefore every couple is different. Your story isn’t the same as another couples’ story and it shouldn’t be! Everyone has their own struggles and their own joys in their relationship and we have our hands full with our own business—don’t stress about what’s happening with other people.
4. Be Intentionally Considerate
There’s more to a good relationship than reacting to things as they come up in a considerate way. Seeking ways to actively serve one another takes your intimacy to the next level. Sometimes the little things make the most impact, and training yourself to pay attention to them gives you so many opportunities to show your love. Some of the best and most loving things that Eddy has done for me are things I wasn’t even anticipating or didn’t even know I needed, like changing my oil for me on his day off or thinking ahead and getting me a comfy chair to sit in at the beach. The way he treats me has taught me how meaningful it is to have someone see your needs and help meet them. I want to be more like that!
5. Enjoy Time Together
This may seem silly to some people, but I’ve learned that it’s super important to prioritize time to enjoy activities together. It’s easy to get caught up in work schedules and the day-to-day tasks of things that need to get done (like planning a wedding), and if we’re not careful we’ll miss out on opportunities to just have fun. It’ll look different for every couple—some couples like being active together, working out and running and biking. Others may prefer painting together, cooking, eating out, visiting the beach, etc. Making sure that you have a fun date together at least once or twice a week. It gives you something to look forward to and keeps the excitement in your relationship. Even further than that, if you can learn to enjoy the mundane, daily activities together, you’re ahead of the game. Eddy and I are best friends, so even a trip to the grocery store can be fun.
There are still days when I miss the mark with these points and I fail to prioritize things properly. I suspect if I were writing this article five years from now I’d have even more to share and even more that I would need to work on. Thankfully, I’ve been able to enjoy tons of grace in my relationship and I’ve learned to give it as well. I’m looking forward to the future and know that we’ll make it with grit and grace.
Looking for more articles on dating and marriage?
Commitment–The Road Forward
7 Dating Tips for Successful Relationships
I Thank My Twenties for These 10 Lessons
7 Things to Look for in a Man
5 Important Things to Discuss as a New Couple
Will Waiting for Marriage Lead to a Boring Sex Life?
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