Seven years is a long time to know someone, especially to be in a relationship with that person. Collin and I have learned so much about each other and we still learn more everyday since our journey began in 2009.
You may be thinking that we are still young and inexperienced or that we aren't married just yet so how could we possibly be giving relationship advice. But in the seven years we've been dating, we have experienced loss, long distance, and life changes that are known to drive relationships in to the ground. So tonight, we want to share some of the biggest things we have learned since we were 15.
- Be yourself before you try to become something together. My dad is big on giving philosophical advice so this one comes from him. Collin and I chose to go to separate colleges and although I had anxiety about it the first year, I am so thankful that is the decision we made. We learned how to be individuals and do things without each other. You need to know who you are and be confident with that before you can learn how to be with someone else.
- Never stop dating. After a while, things can get a bit habitual in a relationship, but never stop going on dates. Whether it's dinner, bowling, hiking, whatever you like to do together, make time at least once a month.
- Learn each other's hobbies and respect them. Collin likes cars and I like fashion. I will probably never be into cars and Collin is okay to put on a t-shirt and go. But, we have learned that supporting each other's hobbies is so critical to our relationship so we can appreciate what the other is passionate about.
- It's all about the little thing. This has two meanings. The first is probably what came to your mind when you read this; flowers, a random love note, a text that makes you smile, anything small that just makes your day a bit better is so important every once in a while. On the other hand, the little things like who took out the trash last or left toothpaste in the sink can drive you crazy and be blown out of proportion. Try not to let little things become big things.
- Get to know the friend groups. Knowing who your significant other hangs out with is so important because friends are a direct reflection of who you are.
- Know when to walk away. Sometimes, during an argument it's best to just walk away. During our pre-marriage seminar we learned that this is called flooding and that's when people say things they don't mean. It's best to just walk away and come back with a clear head.
- Routines are okay, but don't let them control your relationship. In the last year, we have slipped into a weekly routine. Wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed. But, sometimes you need to change it up. Go do something fun or play a game together, anything that disrupts that routine just a little bit is a good thing.
- Patience is critical. Wow, this is a big one. The person you love is not always going to do everything you love. Be patient with them and talk through things.
- Learn each other's habits and understand them. We all have habits, both good and bad. For example Collin can't stand when I wake up and he can hear me blow my nose. Kind of gross, but honest and it's probably not going to change. Collin has a habit of checking things multiple times (the door being locked, lights off, doors shut) and that probably won't change either. Embrace the weirdness and love them anyway.
- Be open and honest, especially about money and emotions. This has been a huge thing for us over the last year. It is so important to have honest conservations about important topics such as money, family, marriage, etc. Although these topics can be uncomfortable, they must be discussed.
Hopefully these 10 tips are at least a little bit helpful and maybe eye opening. Whoever you love, remember to appreciate all they do for you and always remember to say "I love you."