In honor of Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d finally post something that has been in my queue for quite some time. The question I get asked most often is – how do you know you’ve found the one? What’s the secret? The best I can do is offer my own experience and hope that you too can also find ‘the one’ – you deserve it! This is not a one size fits all guide – just my personal priorities. Make your own list to reflect on what love means to you. Remember to be honest with yourself – there are no wrong answers.
Here is my personal recipe-
1. Be the person you want to date [and marry] – No double standards: If you expect something from your spouse, they deserve the same from you. If you like to go out with your girlfriends, you can’t get upset when they hang out with their bros.
2. Be Communicative – I have a “never go to bed mad” policy.As a result of the policy, Eric and I never fight. A few days ago, I was surprised to find that there is evidence backing this up! The key to upholding the policy is to immediately point out if something is bothering you. No passive aggressive texts, or cold shoulder expecting your spouse to understand what’s going on. If something is bothering you, fix it right then and there. This prevents bad blood from building up and guarantees very peaceful dreams.
3. Be Respectful – Truly, Madly, Deeply: If you cannot respect them, why marry them? [that is all].
4. Be self-reflective – Something that I’ve always loved about Eric is his habit of asking me if he is still making me happy and being the best man for me. The answer has always been YES, but the question is a constant reminder that we should always strive to be the best for the people around us. I have taken this habit from Eric and apply it to our relationship daily – I want to be the best that I can be for him. I want to make sure that I make each of his days better just by being in them. This self reflection is something I will always thank Eric for teaching me (I don’t even think he realizes how much I have learned from this). Self reflection can help in all parts of our lives – we are not perfect but as long as we always remember to check in with reality and make sure we give ourselves just enough constructive criticism – every part of our life will go more smoothly. With this mantra, we can strive to be less judgemental, kinder, and more generous to those around us.
5. Be selfless – When you find the right person, being selfless feels amazing. Being selfish takes effort – it lingers in our minds and justifies unfortunate things. When you are selfless and trust that your spouse is selfless too, then you know that you don’t even need to be selfish. They are always looking out for your best interest so there’s no need to worry. They always want you to have the largest slice of pie and you always want the same for them (solving that dispute is another story).
6. Collect moments, not things – If you ask me what Eric got me for Christmas last year or for our anniversary, I can’t even remember because the only memories I have are of the moments we shared on those days. Sure, a shiny necklace brings a moment of temporary glee, but what we really cherish are the words we say to each other and the time we spend together during special occasions. Recently, we have become a fan of cards-only for special occasions since the look on our faces as we read the kind words of love are an even better reminder of our union. This Valentines Day, we are going to have a simple dinner at home, exchange cards, and swing dance to our favorite jazz music.
7. Avoid Falling into the “I only did it because I love you” trap – There is no relationship pet peeve of mine greater than hearing “I only _____ because I love you.” The phrase is not inherently evil, but it can be used to justify evil things. Here are some examples:
“You can’t go out with your friends…I only say that because of much I love you”
“You’re fat, eat less….I only say that because I love you”
We have all felt the urge to say this [hopefully not often] at some point in our life. I just have become very very careful in using the phrase and cannot think of a single time I have uttered it to Eric.
8. Laugh – laugh until your stomach hurts. Laugh until you pee your pants. Laugh until you fall on the floor and can’t get up because you are laughing too hard. Always find a moment to laugh.
9. Be Grateful – Take a moment everyday to consciously be humbled by your good fortune. Even if the day was horrible – find something to be grateful for [even just that you have food on the table]. We take time before dinner every night to be thankful and grateful for each other and the time we get to spend with each other, while also wishing that others may have good fortune as well. Begin and end each day with a grateful heart.
10. Last, but certainly not least – be totally in love. Don’t worry what people say, it’s your life and your happiness. Be happy when your friends find love, and be patient if you’re still looking.
Live your life & enjoy.