So, I may sound a little “Late-to-the-party” since Valentine’s Day has passed…but this post is all about love and relationships.
Let’s be honest, “relationships” is a great topic all year round not just on February 14th. Love and relationships take a lot of hard work and diligence… so there’s my justification… this may be an ongoing topic that comes up here on the blog. 🙂
I have some pixx — my favorite things to discuss — but I figured I would fill you in with my two cents on my experience with love and relationships.
First, you should know I am a religious person. I believe everyone has a way to deal with challenges or trials. Some people turn to meditation, others to research and learning about the issue or problem they are dealing with, some choose to hike mountains or run marathons to calm their mind, and some turn to religion. I am in the latter category. Religion defines me in so many ways and I feel blessed to have a relationship with God. Knowing this about me helps to explain my experience with love.
For many years, I prayed to God daily to help me find the right man to come into my life. I loved my job, my family, friends, etc., but the void that was missing in my life was having a partner by my side. I longed for someone to share my dreams with, and I longed even more to have children.
Keeping this short… we will skip a few details but just know, I was 27 years old and single, sitting at a restaurant with two friends who were both married. As we were talking, a lady at the table next to us had a baby that could only have been about 8 weeks old. This mother picked up her baby, put it to her shoulder, and I locked eyes with that little newborn… and my heart melted. My emotions ran sooo strong to the point that I started crying. Yep… tears streaming while I was sitting there talking (more so listening) with friends. I was so taken up in emotion and could not calm it. So I quickly excused myself and ran to the restroom.
In the restroom, of all places… (luckily I was alone), I said a prayer to my Heavenly Father. I will tell you this was probably one of the most genuine heart-felt prayers I had offered in my life because I was desperate for peace. Seeing that tender baby tore me apart inside because I felt that perhaps I would never know what is was like to have my own child… and that thought was devastating. So, there, in the restaurant bathroom of all places, I prayed to my Heavenly Father to please help me find peace in “the situation I was in.” Or other words, please help me feel peace in life as a single person.
For me, the peace I felt was immediate. Not all prayers are answered quickly, but I can tell you my uncontrollable emotions came to a pause and I was OK. At that moment I realized I had changed my prayers and my focus. Instead of praying every night for a husband and family, I prayed that I could be comforted and content in my single life… and if at all possible, I would love to have a family. BUT, if single life was what was meant for me… I needed extra comfort and peace to deal with that. Bottom line, I prayed to accept myself for who I was as a person, and as a single person. My entire life, I felt that I was only important or that I would only be happy if I was married with children. I realized I had to step back and learn to love myself for who I was no matter if I was married or not.
This process of learning to love yourself in a non-conceeded manner is not only important, it is vital for all relationships. If you can’t love that person in the mirror, how are you going to love anyone else?
It’s not an easy task to gain self-esteem. In fact, I consider it a life long task.
Some things that have helped me gain a healthier sense of self are:
- Positive influences: People that help you to feel good about yourself is key.
- Social media breaks or fasts: I highly recommend having social media breaks or fasts especially if you are struggling with your self-esteem. We all know that the comparison game is worse when you get online and see how “Wonderful” everyone’s lives are, when in actuality, we all know that NOBODY has the perfect life. No matter how rich and famous you are… life is not perfect and we can not be fooled by social media.
- Finding a good hobby/outlet/passion: I believe everyone needs something to keep their mind busy — to help with all the stress that life deals us. I turn to my religion in this area, as well as going for walks, reading, music, cooking, etc. We all need to have the “thing” we look forward to do destress us. I would highly suggest if you don’t have a healthy hobby, to find one. Hobbies can be a lifesaver in so many ways.
- Physical fitness: Sleeping at least 6-8 hours each night, eating healthy, and working out… this can be a hard one, but oh my goodness it makes a difference! I believe the way we feel physically makes such an impact mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. There is actual scientific evidence in the “natural endorphins” we get from physical activity. So, even if it’s finding a workout on YouTube, move around a bit and get those endorphins working.
- Gratitude: Even if you don’t keep a gratitude journal, just daily verbalizing three things in life that you are grateful for can help you see the positive in life versus the negative. Gratitude can translate over to you seeing yourself in a positive light verses a negative light.
Yes I finally did find my prince charming after fighting through some crazy single years. I am blessed beyond measure to have my wonderful husband. We learn a lot together and I truly enjoy being his best friend!
I will say I am grateful for what I learned in my years of being single. It taught me a lot about myself and truly helped me understand my own values and beliefs. Single life helped me dig deeper into my religious beliefs and helped me understand what “Faith” truly is. My years of being single provided me with a stronger foundation for our marriage, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
(This picture is a wedding picture of my hubby and I—when we were naive and thought marriage would be a piece of cake:)
Now for a few of my personal tips for relationships:
- Minimize Expectations: We can’t make “expectations” in our relationships with others. I still struggle in this area and sometimes assume that my husband can read my mind. Nobody has super powers, so we will get hurt every time we set an expectation that has not been communicated or discussed.
- No one is Perfect: Although I haven’t been married long,(4.5 years) I have noticed that it is important if not crucial to realize that marriage is not perfect. Marriage is combining two imperfect people and merging two imperfect lives –and that can get messy. However, I believe working through the hard can make marriages stronger. Realizing that no one is perfect, including yourself, creates a sense of humility into the relationship, which is a beneficial quality to have within a marriage.
- Communication: It is crucial to work on communication skills in marriage or in any relationship. We have to remember that relationships aren’t blissful with bouquets of roses everyday…that wouldn’t be real. Everybody has ups and downs and working on communicating our feelings and our issues within the relationship is vital. All in all, I am slowly but surely learning to communicate my wants and needs to my spouse. It’s helpful to “talk things out” and of course LISTEN to what your partner is saying.
There is really so much to add, but simplicity can be key when talking about relationships and love — so I will stop there.
And now to share some of my FAVORITE PIXX for Love and Relationship advice.
#1- Anything by Dr. John Gottman is INCREDIBLE! If you haven’t heard of him, look him up! The reason why Gottman knows his stuff when it comes to love and relationships is because he is an actual researcher on love and relationships. He can predict a divorce with a 90% accuracy rate after years of researching and compiling data. Pretty impressive! There are a list of books I would like to read that Gottman has written. For me, I have listened to a lot of his research on youtube and it’s very intriguing. Check him out, you won’t be disappointed:
#2-One of my favorite wedding gifts we received was the book entitled “His Needs, Her Needs,” by Willard F. Hardley, Jr. This book is a great read. To summarize,it talks about your marriage or relationship as if it’s a bank account—a love bank. Everyday you are doing little things to either add to the love bank, or to take away from the love bank. This book was very insightful to read and one to refer back to again and again.
Click here for a link to the book.
#3- Dr. Liz Hale has some wonderful marriage and relationship advice. I started watching Hale on a morning tv show and found that I looked forward to her weekly appearances. I found Hale’s website and love watching her videos and tips. Liz Hale is very insightful and has an array of helpful ideas to improve your relationships. Something that stood out to me that Dr. Liz Hale mentioned once was that the old saying “Don’t go to bed mad at each other” was actually false. Hale makes a great point in saying that sometimes we need to go to bed mad at each other because we need to think things through, and calm ourselves down before we say things we may regret. I love this little nugget of advice, and you can find more tips like this by going to her website below:
#4- Dr. Matt Townsend. This man is a relationship guru as well. If you live here in Utah he puts on some excellent “Date Nights.” A date night with Matt Townsend consist of marriage advice/counseling, mixed with wit and humor. Dr. Townsend has had many years working in marriage counseling and is very talented in what he does. I would highly recommend watching some of Townsend’s videos. Townsend has a website where you can sign up for different courses on marriage, parenting etc. If you haven’t heard of Dr. Townsend…he’s a breath of fresh air and you will enjoy listening to him speak!
There are so many great resources and books on love and relationships…please share your favorites, I am always up for learning more on this topic!