Affection. I was absolutely kidding when I said that this is exactly how Michael greets me everyday when he comes home from work. But I’m the slightest bit serious because he does greet me when he comes home from work, or wherever he was. I’m usually in the main room but if I’m not, he makes sure to find me and give me a hug or a kiss, to let me know he missed me and it happy to see me.
Laugh together. This doesn’t always mean that you have to be making each other laugh, but search for things that make you laugh together. Michael and I both have our business Instagram account linked on our phones. We never really talked about doing this but it just kind of happened on it’s own. We would each get on IG and anytime we would see a funny meme, we would save it with the intention of showing each other later. Well, we would each go and look at the saved photos and would see funny memes that each other had saved. So then we started doing it intentionally. We also both love Friends. It’s the one show that we know gets both of us laughing, without fail. Of course, Michael does make laugh and I often try to make him laugh, this is important too. But I’ve found that when we can both laugh together, we are the happiest.
Serve each other. I can honestly tell you that our marriage would have fallen apart by now if we did not constantly look for ways to serve each other. And over time, as you grow with another person, this becomes anticipating their needs. Serving each other doesn’t have to be a silent matter. Often times, we express what we need from the other. Michael usually keeps his feelings in more than I do, so he can usually tell what I’m in need of, or with a simple phrase, he can figure it out, but I usually have to ask him ways that I can help him. Sometimes I need help making dinner because I’m in the middle of working on something and I just can’t afford the break. Sometimes he needs me to read over an email draft to his professor. Rather than thinking of all the ways to communicate to your S/O how they can help you, first ask yourself how you can help them. Two givers will get much further and receive much more than two takers.
Don’t complain. Of course there are always those times where we feel like we just need to vent, to get it all out. If this is the case, find a trusted professional to help you work through those feelings, but I promise you, talking to your family and friends about what your spouse or s/o does that drives you crazy will pull both of you down. I’ve found that Michael has an easier time keeping quiet than I do. But I’ve been trying really hard not to complain about things. Even the seemingly small things are just a gateway to share more. If you are someone who needs to share, share the good and the positive. And even when you are just by yourself and reflecting on your relationship, there is no point in dwelling on the negative. Try rephrasing the negatives into positives and look at them as things to improve upon and ways for you to grow closer and together.
This may seem obvious, but here goes: spend time together. Every relationship requires work and planning. It’s so important to set aside time where you two can just be together. It really doesn’t have to be anything fancy, in fact, it can be quite the opposite. But try to remove as many distractions as possible. For me, my phone is always a huge distraction. I can always be looking at things, editing things, scrolling, etc. I have my apps locked starting at 9pm until 7am. This way, every night, I plug my phone in on the counter and after 9pm, it’s my time to just hang out with Michael. And when we do go on dates, my phone is always in airplane mode. Plus, me doing this meant so much to Michael and made him feel important and special to me- which he is! Find activities you love to do together, for us, it’s eating good food, cooking together, or photographing!
Now, if you just came here for the meat of the post, here it is:
Be affectionate, 2. laugh together, 3. serve each other, 4. don’t complain, and 5. spend quality time together.
And everything I share, comes from a place of love. I don’t mean to boast or brag in any way and I definitely do not claim to be an expert on marriage or relationships, so take all of this with a grain of salt. But I have seen really unhealthy relationships (one being my parents and watching their divorce unfold). And I’ve also seen the most beautiful, healthy relationships (which still require work). So I definitely feel fortunate to be in a marriage full of love and support, but I also know that it really does take two, it takes commitment, and it takes unconditional love. This also goes for friendships, not just romantic relationships. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship and feeling love!
Thanks for reading.
photos of Michael and I are by Savan.