At 26 and 29, my husband and I do not want to admit it, but our 20’s are slipping faster and faster into those “Dirty 30’s” (he’s closer than I am haha!) but it has not been an easy road. We are that couple – the ones that most look at and wonder what the secret is or what we’re hiding and when we say we have known each other since we were fourteen, they imagine that the answer is time – yeahhhhhhhhh, NO. It has not always been an easy road. Marriage is a very tough and yet an extremely rewarding experience if navigated with the conscious idea of growing a great relationship. Here are some of the tips my husband and I have for finding that balance and creating a healthy relationship.
- Growth is forever part of of the grand scheme of things: You have to nourish to flourish right? I mean the only sure way to know something is still alive and kicking is GROWTH. Because of where we came from, my husband and I have always promised ourselves that we would “break the cycle” and commit to a life of constant learning and growing no matter how hard times get. The only direction is up. With that, please be advised that change is constant. I struggled with this for a long time because I didn’t want anything to change between us but I wanted to be supportive. I soon came to realize that change is a part of human existence and that if a healthy, loving, supportive and conscious relationship is what I wanted, I could not just root for our growth as individuals and harbor the expectation that the dynamics of our relationship would remain the same. Things changed, ALOT; and for the better. From then on, we committed to pushing each other to be the best versions of ourselves that we could possibly be so that coming together we could face and welcome change with open arms.
- Emotional Self-Sufficiency: As cliché as it may sound, you have to be happy with yourself before you can offer the gold at the end of your rainbow to someone else. But if your happiness solely depends on your partner (or anyone for that matter) and their constant love, approval and validation for how you feel daily, there is way too much power being given away. I love being acknowledged and loved down by my husband, but it would be damaging emotionally and to my self-esteem if I had to fight everyday for it. I urge you to find that sense of self, even if it means to flourish separately as a couple before tackling the married life so that both individuals come together with a sense of independence, wholeness, self-confidence and love that does not aim to solicit love back but certainly allows you to give and receive without being dependent on another.
- Effective Communication: In the beginning of our marriage, I was indeed the mind reader and we’ll just call my husband “The Mute”. The worst combination for communication but we worked out the kinks! I could not help but to assume what he was thinking so I was left to read his facial expressions but I was no Miss Chleo! In this situation, express that you are not a mind reader. What you have to say is important and express that there are things one cannot expect you to know if the communication is not reciprocated. The more that is left unsaid, the more that could be boiling underneath the surface and trust, it will come out at the worst possible time. I also want to stress something my Great Grandmother always stresses to me (after calling me hardheaded and dramatic of course lol). She has always said that you have to listen to understand, don’t just listen to reply. I brought this with me into my marriage. Understanding full and well that it was not just me anymore but I would have to take someone else’s words, concerns and opinions into consideration without them feeling like it was falling on deaf ears.
- It is okay to disagree: But please do so positively. Remember “The Mute” from the previous point? He is not a very confrontational person by nature. In fact, he will literally avoid it at all costs assuming that I will forget about it the longer time passes by. I say all of that to say – while it is the easiest thing to do, running away is not the answer. If this is something that you find hard to get through, understand that sometimes the only way to the other side is through. I promise it won’t kill you to share your thoughts and feelings and utilize “I” instead of “you” when explaining your thoughts and feelings.
- Create a foundation: Creating a foundation on those differences that make you and your partner who you are is important because it is not the differences that tarnish great relationships but how each of you manage to work through them.
- Love is all you need: Lastly, love one another for where there is love, there is no power struggle. I personally have a relationship that feels like home in my heart to me. I truly believe that this is because my husband and I love each other more than we need each other, creating something that is worked at every single day instead of treating it like a destination. Trust me, you do not just arrive to this whimsical place immediately after reading your vows but working hard daily to practice healthy habits like honesty, communication, presence and understanding is a beautiful start to the everyday practice. Every little thing is gonna be alright.