Just in time for Valentine’s Day, my friends Abbie at Grumbling Grace, Shaunacey at Simply Shaunacey and I are sharing posts on nurturing relationships. It might seem a little ironic that I am writing about nurturing relationships when I have been married more than once. More than twice. But I have learned a lot! Ha! So there.
So let’s get to it. Time’s a-wastin’. Tomorrow’s the day of love…
Research on Nurturing Relationships
Had a giggle with Abbie and Shaunacey about researching/preparing for our posts. Shaunacey mentioned having to wait til her babes were in bed for the ‘magic’ (of blog post writing) to begin. I admitted that my post wasn’t written yet either and that I didn’t have little ones to blame that on at home. But I teased that we had tried out some of my nurturing tips today!
Actually I did research this post. Online research. And no, not that kind of online research. I found some great articles with advice on boosting our most important relationships. Going to share my fav suggestions from each one.
Tips for Romantic Relationships
Ditch the Comfort Zone
There has to be a mutual desire to step outside the box. The tried-and-true is good, but the never- attempted-before may be better. Couples who share new experiences together develop a stronger bond. [source]
A few years ago, PC and I went to Punta Cana in celebration of my retirement. Neither of us had been to the Dominican Republic before, so that was a baby step out of our comfort zone. But while we were there, we went zip-lining, another first for both of us. A gigantic first! I am smiling in the pictures below but along about station 9, I had a mini panic attack. Almost gave up on doing the rest of the circuit but my Prince talked me down off the proverbial ledge.
Doing exciting, different kinds of things together have helped us build a stronger marriage. We go to dinner theater, the El Paso Play House, I Painted That and run 5Ks mostly because I want to. And because they make for a different kind of date night. We go to Cincinnati Reds’ spring training, Boston concerts and to see Weird Al Yankovic mostly because he wants to. But wherever we go, we have fun. And we are both willing to try something new just because it is good for our relationship and makes the other one happy.
Make a dedicated time for those who matter. [source]
My sister Valerie and her husband Roby have been married for over 20 years. Happily married. To each other. I have been married for close to 30 years. To three different guys. A lot of the first 20+ years, unhappily. Valerie and Roby have had their share of troubles including their youngest son’s 18 month-long battle with cancer. Which led to his death at age 3. But they have stayed together through thick and thin.
Couch time is one thing they do almost every night. With or without wine because not every night is a wine night. Once they are both home from work, and have had a few minutes to change clothes or unwind, they get something to drink and meet on the couch in their living room. Free from the interruptions of technology, television or telephone, they talk about their day, the state of the world, successes and frustrations.
I have wanted to institute couch time at our house but we haven’t quite worked it out yet. We usually head to the gym pretty quickly once we are home. Starting tomorrow, I am going to slow things down a bit to allow for couch time before we dash back out the door again.
Typhoons and Droughts
Accept the notion that there will be storms and droughts. Weather them both. [source]
So true. From childhood, we are fed a diet of happily-ever-after stories. Heck, even my blog title feeds into that notion. But real relationships are seldom like fairy tale fantasies. Even the best of couples experience droughts. With commitment to the union as well as the other person, those dry spells are easier to withstand.
I am currently reading Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup. In one of her chapters about decluttering the mind, Soukup discusses the effect of stress on our overall health. She mentions having taken a life stress test at one point in her marriage. The stressors she and her family had been enduring over the past few years were tremendous. Her high score on the test was an indication that she and her husband were at high risk for becoming ill from these burdens.
We all have stress, it’s how we manage it that matters. Sharing life’s pressures and difficulties with someone you love can help you reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Check out the “Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale”, here. Then give each other a hug.
Marriage is No Big Deal…
[Marriage is] a bunch of little ones. [source]
It’s okay to be comfortable in a relationship but not slovenly and lazy. Remember your manners. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ matter just as much 20 years in as they do when you’re dating. Maybe more. Hold hands. Hug when you say hello or goodbye to one another. Put a little more time and effort on your appearance for date nights.
My mama used to always comb her hair and apply fresh lipstick right before my father came home from work. She rarely, if ever, wore much more make up than lipstick and perhaps a little powder. But she would freshen up every afternoon about 5:30. Mom and dad were married 65 years.
There’s a lot of truth to that old adage about an ounce of prevention. Paying attention to the little details of your marriage can keep them from morphing into relationship deal-breakers.
Speak Your Partner’s Love Language
I have written a couple of blog posts in the past about the ‘5 love languages’ as identified by author Dr. Gary Chapman. You can read them here. According to Dr. Chapman we receive love in different ways…through words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. While my love languages have changed in order of importance over the years, words of affirmation, physical touch and quality time have always been my biggies.
When I first met PC, I would compliment him on how he dressed, smelled (does that sound right?), his sense of humor, his ability to write a complete sentence. But my sincere compliments didn’t really speak to him. What meant most to him was the quality time we spent together. On our first date, he was happy to see me to my car without giving me a hug or kiss. But I went in for a hug and when he started to pull away after a few seconds, I told him we weren’t finished hugging. I needed to see how he “felt” after all. It wasn’t enough that he was handsome, intelligent and funny.
Moral of the story, if your partner speaks French, you wouldn’t speak to him in German. You would do your best to learn French. I am trying to speak more French to PC these days. Discover your love language, here.
Truth Be Known
It is almost humorous that I should write about nurturing relationships when I have had more than my share of failed ones. I profess to speak to my Prince in French but some days I forget. Or my own ‘native tongue’ slips out instead. Some days, life gets in the way and I feel pulled in a dozen different directions. I don’t give my husband all of the quality time he deserves. But our relationship and I are works in progress. Our marriage is ever-evolving and growing. We work at it. We are committed to one another and our union. But when there is love, it doesn’t feel like work much at all.
I asked my Prince for 2 tips he would give for nurturing relationships. He said don’t go to bed angry and always try to see issues from your partner’s point of view. Smart guy.
Hope you will join me in hopping over to Abbie’s blog now by clicking here. She and her husband are such a cute couple and their babies are just adorable. I hope she can offer this old dog some new tricks. And be sure to visit The Blended Blog regularly for more editions in our “Nuggets for the New Year” series.
Won’t you share your own nuggets for nurturing relationships? Join us.
Have a quiet Monday, friends.
Hugs and kisses,