Together, Derek and I have completed another trip around the sun! Today marks 11 years of life, love, and happiness.
But it hasn’t always been sunshine and Santa Claus, bright lights and lollipops.
[↑ Can you name the Musical reference? Answer at the end.]
How have we built our relationship and kept it strong for over a decade then?
Work hard together.
Relationships are work, plain and simple. I often hear or read that many in my generation have a belief that when they find the right person – the one true love they are meant for – all will come easy. They think that it will practically be love at first sight, that it will be hot and heavy forever, and that there won’t ever be any discord; everything will just flow easily and come naturally.
I’m sorry to report that this notion is pure fantasy. Worse yet, that fantasy may also be a large contributor to why those who hold this belief tend to have short relationships. If at the first sign of struggle and difficulty you run because you don’t think it should be that way, then the relationship never even gets a chance to grow and mature.
For Derek and myself, our toughest times were in the first two years of our relationship. We are opposites in many ways. (Our zodiac signs – Leo & Aquarius – are even directly opposite.) So, we spent those first two years learning to just communicate and it was incredibly challenging. Many would have called it off and saved their energy, but it has been more than worth it in the bigger picture!
Truly, I believe it’s our differences that make our relationship stronger because they allow us to bring balance to one another.
Don’t hit below the belt.
Disagreements and arguments will happen. The key is that when they do, you never take low-blow jabs. During our ride on the struggle bus in years 1 and 2, we agreed that we would not call names and we would not threaten to break up in the heat of an argument.
Derek’s analogy was notches out of a piece of wood. Each time you call the other a name or yell, “Maybe we should just break up,” you scar the wood permanently. Long after the argument ends, your person will remember the names you called them and how easily you could consider breaking up with them.
Achieve goals together.
Setting goals, big and small, and achieving them as a team is highly rewarding. The whole idea of being in a relationship is to work as a pair to conquer difficulties and to share the joys and successes as they come. With each triumph, the relationship strengthens.
Have each other’s back.
To over-dramatize: It’s you as a couple against the world. We may have irritation with one another over this or that and we certainly tell each other what’s what with respectful honesty, but boy, nobody else is allowed to come for either of us!
I have an incredibly low tolerance for anyone mistreating Derek and I am even more willing to express that and protect him than I am for myself. It’s not to say that I would blindly agree or condone if he is ever out-of-line with someone, but I would privately work that out with him. To the world, regardless, I will always stand up for his character, virtues, and intentions because I know them better than anyone.
Let’s be honest, he would probably have to defend me way more than I would ever have to defend him though. 😆
Remember to express your love regularly.
If you’re familiar with the 5 love languages, then you know that not everyone expresses their love in the same way. That’s okay. You can start by taking the quiz to discover your love languages so you can better observe when your person is expressing their love to you and you can better express yours in the way they understand. The important part is to remember to do it on a regular, if not daily basis.
Also express appreciation! Thanking people goes such a long way, not just in your love life, but in your friendships, family, and workplace. We all like to know that our efforts are recognized and valued.
This list is not exhaustive by any means, but I find that these are some successful skills that Derek and I have practiced over the years. The keyword here is “practice.” To be good at anything, you must practice and you must improve yourself, ultimately.
So go forth and love one another, conquer the world together, and share your joys and successes! Create memories. Build your life. Love and be loved.
🎶 Today’s Jam 🎶
“Closer To You” by Brandi Carlile