My husband and I celebrated the anniversary of our engagement this week (we call it our “personal Valentine’s Day” preferring to commemorate March 13th instead of February 14th) so Love is on my mind. It’s been 5 years since he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him and we’ve been blissfully married for 3 and half years now, together for nearly 8 and a half. It’s true what they say, time really does fly when you’re having fun: it’s hard to believe we met all the way back in 2005!
I know a lot of our single friends look to us as an example of a ideal relationship and sometimes ask for advice on how we make it work. So I thought I’d share some of my “secrets” here, with the hope that what has worked for me will help others develop their own blissful romantic relationship.
#1) Become okay with being alone.
Dating out of desperation will not attract your ideal mate. Do some soul-searching to get to a place where you don’t need another person to make you happy because you’re perfectly happy with your own company. This can be achieved through various methods: meditation, yoga, journaling, EFT (also known as Tapping), life coaching, hypnosis, talk therapy, self-help books, CDs, DVDs… there are tons of tools out there to help you reach a place where you can say “I don’t need someone else to complete me.” Once you’re there, you can relax into being single and just keep your eyes open to recognize the person you want to share your life with.
#2) Make a list.
A few months before meeting Dusty, I decided to sit down and make a list of what I was looking for in a mate. I had been single for a couple years following two back-to-back long-term relationships that didn’t work out and had just gotten to a place where I was ready to date again. I wasn’t “husband hunting” because I wasn’t ready to settle down yet but, I knew marriage was the ultimate goal of dating (for me anyway) so, I thought it would be useful to have a sort of checklist in the back of my mind to know when I’d found Mr. Right. Or, conversely, to know when I’d ended up with Mr. Not-So-Right again. Plus, I’m a believer in the Law of Attraction, so I wanted to have a list of positive aspects to focus my attention on. Really, whether you come at it from a rational or metaphysical standpoint, a list just makes sense. I had various qualifications swirling in my mind, but putting them down on paper (or rather, on a computer) really helped solidify my desires. I thought about past relationships… What qualities did I like? (wrote those down) … What qualities didn’t I like? (wrote down the opposite) … What qualities did I always wish my previous boyfriends had? (added those to the list) … It brought to mind that scene in Practical Magic where young Sally Owens makes a list of her perfect mate. Although she was trying to get so specific that he couldn’t possibly exist… I didn’t get as specific as eye color or quirky talents, I kept more to personality traits and beliefs, but did ask for a musician.
#3) Don’t force it.
Our relationship has always been easy. From the very beginning we enjoyed each other’s company and basically just continued spending time together, continued having fun together, and the relationship just progressed naturally. I’ll admit I fell for Dusty pretty early on in the relationship, which caused some intense internal dialogue for me because, as I said before, I didn’t think I was ready to settle down. However, I knew he didn’t want to get married before turning 30 so, once I realized he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I had to exercise some patience while waiting for him to express those feelings himself. That’s not to say I didn’t drop the occasional hint, but I decided patience was preferable to an ultimatum. The way I see it, if a man proposes because of an ultimatum, he will most likely resent that he was put in that position (who wants to feel forced into doing something? or maybe he was already planning a proposal and you completely ruined the romantic gesture?) and it can leave the woman with doubts about the sincerity of the proposal as well. So, I just continued enjoying our relationship as it was (which wasn’t hard to do,) and my patience was ultimately rewarded with the most beautiful romantic perfect proposal I could have imagined!
#4) Focus on the good.
We all know that as a relationship progresses personal bad habits become more apparent, either because you get more lax about being on your best behavior, or just because of all the time you spend together. (I’m reminded of a classic I Love Lucy episode where everyone becomes annoyed with each other’s habits – like Ricky’s finger tapping and Lucy’s loud coffee stirring – because once they notice them they focus on them.) But here’s the thing: there are all kinds of good things to focus on too, and whatever you choose to put your focus on is what’s in the forefront of your mind. So what if Dusty leaves a dirty pot on the stove? So what if I leave my shoes under the coffee table? Sure, these can be annoying, but nobody’s perfect. Instead, I choose to focus on the good: Dusty notices when I move in a way that reveals my back is sore and gives me a back-rub; When I’m working extra late he’ll make dinner and time it so it’s ready when I get home; When I’m sick, he makes me soup and tea and makes sure I’m drinking plenty of water. And, since I have my own bad habits, I know he chooses to focus on my good qualities instead too.
#5) Let’s get physical.
Now I know this tip might be controversial because some people just don’t like to be touched but, I truly believe having a physical connection with your mate is essential to a good long-lasting romantic relationship. Even if you’re not that sexual, consider hand-holding or a good long hug: it has been proven that hugging someone you care about can ease stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure by releasing higher levels of oxytocin (the “love hormone”,) so hugging is good for your mental and physical health. Oxytocin is also released when kissing and cuddling and bonds you to your mate. I love my habit of kissing Dusty before leaving the house each morning. And the first thing I do when I get home from work each night is greet him with a kiss!
#6) The power of “I love you.”
We say “I love you” to each other multiple times a day, every day. It’s not that we need to hear it to know it’s true, because the way we treat each other definitely shows it. But there’s something special about hearing it, and it feels good to say it too. When I leave for work in the morning, we exchange “I love you”s. Before hanging up, every phone call ends with “Love you!” And every night before going to sleep it’s, “Goodnight Baby, I love you.” And multiple times throughout the day, whenever it feels right. It never gets old.
I’m sure I could add more to the list, but this post has already become much longer that I originally imagined (what happened to my rule of 3?) If you’re already in a happy relationship, I invite you to share your tips in the comments below. Let’s spread the love!