I know we have all seen those perfect Insta posts, where a blissful couple is canoodling over a beautiful picnic together. This is the moment we all think to ourselves, “If I could only be that couple. If I could only be in that relationship.” But we fail to remember that Instagram is not a true testament of a real relationship. It is a snapshot of a moment captured for longevity. Real life is behind photos, smiles, pretty scenery, and the sweetly written words. A real relationship requires work and commitment. And that’s usually the stuff that is rarely captured.
Being in a relationship is an incredible blessing for your life. It also can be one of the most difficult undertakings you ever will be a part of. But I believe that conquering something challenging, can be the most rewarding piece of your life’s journey.
My husband and I have been married for a year and a half. In that time, we have received knowledge through our experiences, as well as allowed wonderful marriages to speak into our lives. I’m passionate about watching other couples grow and develop also. So I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 pieces of wisdom spoken into over our lives. These are lessons we’ve learned that have helped to securely strengthen our relationship.
Create open and honest communication
This is truly the number 1 necessity needed to assist in strengthening your relationship. You need to be willing to say what you mean, express your expectations, and have those uncomfortable conversations. You can’t expect your husband to take out the trash, while never voicing that expectation, and then honestly get mad when he doesn’t. Men are not mind readers, no matter how hard we want them to be. If you are not openly communicating with your partner about what your expectations are, then arguments begin to rise. The easiest way around all that is to say what is on your mind in the most lovingly way possible.
Make time for each other
If your spouse doesn’t see you making time for them, they won’t feel like a priority in your life. Husbands and wives especially, you need to make your spouse the number 1 priority in your life. Before any other living person (and yes I’m including children in this). Your children will one day leave your home, but your partner will be with you forever. If you want to make sure your relationship is solid, you have to set aside time for the two of you. Set a date, mark it on the calendar, and then go out and remember why you are so in love. (And if you need a date idea, we’ve got tons of them for you to check out!)
Let your love for one another be bigger than your desire to win a disagreement
Ego is a nasty little bugger. And please believe me when I say I am talking to ya’ll from experience here. Our pride can keep us in a fight without ever realizing what it is we are fighting for. When you allow your desire to win become larger than your desire to fix the issue, you are choosing pride over love. Love needs to be the constant end-game. When your number 1 focus is to fix the issue, then you create the ability to focus on your love for each other. Even if that means admitting that you were wrong. That will create a stronger relationship any day. With a lot less arguing to boot!
Pray with each other
Prayer in its simplest form is creating an intimate relationship with God. It’s learning to develop a connection. When you and your partner pray together you are learning how to become intimate together. And intimacy is the thing that will bind your connection, creating a more sturdy unit. Your faithfulness to your prayer life will help you to create a faithfulness with each other. It will help you both to grow into healthy and strong people.
Let your differences be a learning tool
Differences can divide us or glue us together. I love that my husband is so completely opposite from me. He teaches me so much about life that I would have never known without him because he sees life with a different view. Everyone has been raised from different backgrounds. We allow those differences to make up for each other’s shortcomings. The particular qualities in my life that I may struggle with, he excels, and that helps me to learn and to grow. If we were too much of the same person, neither of us would be able to learn from the other. Be accepting of those lessons and bask in the beauty that they bring into your lives.
Celebrate the little things
Every relationship needs a win. In fact, a bunch of tiny little wins to be exact. Celebrating the small stuff brings energy back into the relationship. It reminds us that we are blessed to be with our partner and helps us to feel grateful for them. Recognize something has gone well in your relationship and celebrate that with each other. I love to praise my husband when he does little things around our home. It helps him to feel love and respect while also cheering him on so he wants to help out more. Celebrating him brings us closer together.
Always make time to laugh and play
Life can get all too serious, all too quick. Setting aside time to laugh with each other is the only way to combat that. My husband and I like to cook together a lot. We don’t need to cook together, we choose to. And while we are in the kitchen we act like complete goofs. We dance, we tease, we tickle, and we laugh loud. Not only does this release stress and pressure in our lives, but it releases something in us. This reminds us every day why we are married and why we love each other. You need to make time to be silly and to laugh and to play.
Don’t allow other people into your arguments
We are all guilty of it. We get into an argument with our spouse and then run to a friend, a parent, a coworker, and we unload every detail. This action is not only disrespectful to our spouse, but it also places that third person into the center of our relationship. We are called to love, honor, and cherish our spouse. When we engage in a negative conversation about them, we are doing none of these things. At the end of the day, you are able to head home and make up with them. Yet, the people you have brought into the situation are unable to do so. They hold on to that offense for a much longer time and may even continue to always look at your spouse negatively. Keep those small family arguments between the two people involved.
Always say you’re sorry
My pride tries to tell me that I hate the word sorry. It really does. There is a famous movie quote from Love Story that goes something like this, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Now I’m all for a classic movie fest and adore the great writers of yesterday, but that line is junk. Love means always swallowing your pride and apologizing for your mistakes. For those moments of true hurt and heartbreak (and there will be many over the years) we need to learn to say sorry. Before being married, that word felt like poison dripping from my mouth because I always had a need to be right. But my desire to be right should never trump my love for my husband and the ability to solve the issue. I’ve realized that sorry is not a poison, but a soothing medicine that can clean and heal open wounds. Say it strong and often, with its full meaning intended.
Realize that love is a decision, not just a feeling
The world has taught us that love is a feeling that consumes our souls and sets us on fire for that person. The problem with that is feelings are fleeting and the fire eventually burns out. Well, then what? Love is a decision to stay dedicated no matter what. If we listen to the vows we make to each other on our wedding day, they read, “In good times and bad, for better or worse.” There will be days where things get hard, bad, and maybe even worse. But it’s when our foundation is on our decision to love no matter what, that we are able to rise from the situation. Strong relationships are ones that have decided to stand the test of time, staying faithful to only one another. That’s real love.
We need to always remember what a privilege and blessing being in a relationship is. Someone is quite seriously placing their heart in your hands. We should honor that with love and respect for the other person. Playing, learning, and celebrating are all incredible ways to grow stronger together. Now head on out there and start making happy, healthy, and super strong relationships!!