Today, or yesterday, or possibly even Tuesday, marked the 18th anniversary of my and my husband’s very first date. It was my sorority hayride/date party and the reason we can’t remember the exact date is because we’re old and we have no recollection of whether the hayride happened on a Friday or Saturday and when I asked on Facebook last year, no one else could remember either. So we picked the general time frame and rolled with that.
Over the last 18 years, I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible about being in a relationship with someone (the first: never assume the boyfriend you have your sophomore year of college won’t turn out to be your husband). I’ve shared a bunch of those before but I felt it was time to update that original list with a few more.
- Laugh. At yourselves, at each other, at other people. Doesn’t matter. Just take the time to laugh.
- Keep private things private. Facebook is not the place to air your relationship dirty laundry. Keep that shit locked down.
- Learn about your partner’s hobbies. Even if they bore the shit out of you. It doesn’t mean you have to like the same things but showing an interest in what they like is respectful and makes incessant conversations about them less intolerable. And you may find they’re not as terrible as you thought.
- Have some secrets. Not about big things like debt or an unhealthy addiction but small things like bathroom habits or nose picking. A little mystery is just fine.
- Don’t fight about money. I know that money is a leading cause of divorce and all that, but if you can learn to deal with it and talk about it civilly, it will have a huge impact on your relationship.
- Separate Netflix queues. Especially if your taste is awesome and their taste sucks, which is probably the case. But it is equally important to have a few shows you can obsess over together.
- Try new things together. It can be a new food, a new activity, a new genre of movie, or even socializing with a new group of friends. Having those experiences as a couple can bond you.
- Take care of each other. This can be a matter of picking up tissues and NyQuil, being a shoulder to cry on or ear to listen to, or simply helping with something mundane like laundry or cooking. But that emotional physical support is key.
- Embrace quirks. We’ve all got them. Some of us might have more than others. Instead of trying to change the fact that all the hangers have to face the same way or toasted bread has to go in the freezer because the texture of toast is good but the heat is not, just accept it. In fact, the quirks might even make you love the person more (or maybe not. Sometimes they make you run away and that’s okay, too).
- Hate the same people. It’s so much easier if you do.
- Talk to each other. Even the mundane work shit or annoying client stories or some random fact you heard on a podcast or the news, talk to one another. Sure, the long, in-depth, deep conversations about goals and the future are nice, but every so often, you need to debate the best breakfast cereal or what the hell is going to happen to Juice.
- Throw out a compliment every now and again. Just to show you’re paying attention, you care, and you want your significant other to feel good.
- Make time for each other. This goes with #11. You carve out time each week to spend with just your significant other, alone, to do…whatever it is you feel like doing. There are dozens of ways to find time for one another no matter how busy the schedule and doing this reminds you that your relationship is important enough to pause everything else.
- Don’t compare yourself to other couples. And certainly don’t try to be like them. Every couple is distinctly different and trying to imitate someone can spell disaster for yours. Sure, another couple may have qualities you’d like to have, and that’s something to strive for but never forget what make your relationship unique and why you stay in it in the first place. Work on improving the relationship you’re in by staying true to who you are and what you value.
- Be yourself. Pretending to be someone you’re not is a surefire way to ruin a relationship, no matter how long you’ve been in it. Yes, you will evolve and some things may change but at your core, you’ll be who you are. Your partner needs to love you that way. Not the way they’d like you to be.
- Finally, you know that this true
Being in a relationship is work. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. But if you’re in the right relationship for you, you won’t mind doing the work. Even on the days you feel like putting your murder plan into action.