Call me a hopeless romantic or an endless fool, but I never imagined myself without a partner which unfortunately has caused me to make several very poor choices. I am on my fourth marriage. I met my current and last husband in 2004 and married him in 2007. He’s taught me more about my wrong view of marriage by being the kind of husband I need, more than what I learned from the bookshelves of the many self-help books on how to make a marriage work. I’ve found several differences between my current relationship and my previous marriages.
Just because someone says “I love you” doesn’t mean they love you the way you need to be loved, or know how to love you in a sustaining way. Love doesn’t take away from who you are, it’s an addition to your very being. It allows you to bloom in the fertile soil of the heart that gets watered with tears, shined on by laughter, and nurtured into a fully bloomed you. That applies not only to having a partner, but also in loving yourself.
The little things aren’t so little. My spouse likes to make me coffee on Sunday morning. I like to make him dinner when he comes home from work. He likes to bring me my hard to find favorite beverage. I like to make sure he has plenty of his required alone time. Reminding each other regularly that we’re thinking of one another prevents us from taking each other for granted. It’s like mini-dates throughout our busy (and sometimes not so busy) days.
Forgiveness goes a long way. Your partner is human just like you. They have their own quirks and idiosyncrasies that make life with them interesting. If either of you make a mistake, genuinely apologize then respect one another enough not to do it again. Don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve erred. Laugh out loud at the crazy world. Laugh often. Be ridiculous and silly without fear. Humor goes a long way in smoothing out some of the bumpy spots.
Communicate your wants, needs, and expectations to your partner. If they don’t know it’s broken, they can’t fix it. If they are unaware of your needs, how likely are you to get your needs met? Each couple communicates in different ways. Explore, then do what works for each of you in a healthy and productive way.
Accept them for everything they are, but also know that they will probably change and grow.
Your partner is your best friend. Treat them with compassion. If your partner is dealing with a tremendous loss or stress and they ask for your support, don’t reject them by fearfully running away. Take time to see what you both need in times of distress. It could be just listening to them while they talk through what’s bothering them.