9 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned About Love

Love.

The beautiful, delicate, heart exploding, sometimes terrifying, ever wise experience of life that inspires and moves us.

I love to love love.

While I don’t claim to be a master in the art of love or loving, it was become a bit of a hobby of mine {call it a dabble}.

This year marks a decade of being in relationship with my man, Tim.

Funny story: we met on match.com back when it felt a bit more taboo to say you met your boyfriend online. So for the first few months of dating, I lied and said we met at Chili’s (where I was a waitress the summer before my junior year of college). Now, however, I proudly proclaim that I met my love on the internet.

Over these past 10 years, I have learned a great deal about love. And, while I don’t believe there is a “perfect” marriage or relationship {nor do I believe I have the relationship all people should strive for} I do often get asked to share my perspective on love and marriage.

What I’ve learned about love so far:

ONE: Know each other’s primary love language.

Understanding your sweetheart’s primary love language is a powerful way to avoid miscommunication and conflict, as well as to create deeper connection between you both.

If you aren’t familiar with the love languages, let me give you a quick overview.

There are 5 main ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts.

Usually, we enjoy and appreciate each of these 5 areas but there is usually 1-2 primary languages that we value most.

For myself, it is words of affirmation. I wouldn’t mind being told I am loved every hour of the day and find myself swooning over poetry and other forms of the written word. My man, on the other hand, expresses and receives love through acts of service. When I come home and he’s upgraded my computer with the latest software or ordered my favorite Puerto Rican food for when I get home from the airport, he is expressing love and appreciation for me.

Knowing this about each other helps us to communicate in the ways we feel most loved. So, as much as I could write the many ways I love and appreciate my man, doing the laundry and arranging a date night is an expression of love he is able to more deeply receive.

If you aren’t sure what you’re love language is, you can take the easy test right here.

TWO: When going on a date, go separately and meet at restaurant.

This simple strategy is an amazing way to start your date off with butterflies, giggles and flushed cheeks.

Picture this: you get ready at home on your own {pump up playlist and glass of champagne included}, then show up to see your man standing at the door of the restaurant looking effortlessly attractive in his work attire. Your eyes meet, your breath quickens, you both shyly smile with giddy anticipation of the evening to come.

It totally beats rushing to get ready at home, frantically pulling your pants on and trying to get in a date night mood surrounded by laundry and dishes. It’s all about setting the right tone from the beginning.

THREE: The Fifteen Second Kiss

I just learned about this and now I am utterly obsessed with it.

If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, your kisses have likely become shorter and more habitual than they once were.

Now try this: When you are leaving for the day, have a fifteen second kiss. This means your lips cannot leave each other’s until the fifteens seconds is up. It can be tender. It can be passionate. But for those fifteen seconds, you are kissing in a way that is guaranteed to bring more sparkling love between you two.

FOUR: For the “naggers”…consider this perspective.

For those of you who feel like you are constantly nagging on your man (telling him to clean up, get up, shape up etc), first of all I feel you. As an ambitious woman, I tend to micromanage my man when I’m really tired or frustrated with things in my own life.

But I’d like for you to consider the masculine perspective of this experience.

The masculine desires purpose; it is goal oriented and linear. Men are usually defined as fixers – wanting to feel helpful and like they have a problem to solve.

When you get into a space of “nagging”, where you are putting your man down and telling him he isn’t doing what you want him to do, the effect of that is super emasculating. Your man is being told he has failed his purpose. This usually results in him becoming unmotivated and distant, creating a widening gap between to two of you.

Instead, consider coming to your man with a problem that needs to be fixed. Take a deep breath (especially if you are feeling particularly annoyed with him for not doing what you want or asked) and phrase it in a softer, more motivating way.

For instance, instead of saying “You are so lazy! I told you to fix the broken lamp in the guest room!” you could try saying something like, “Honey? I noticed the lamp in the guest room is still broken and I have a big list of things to accomplish for the rest of the day. Would you be able to take a look at it and see what you can do? Thank you so much, that would be so helpful!”

The first “nagging” phrase puts your man on the defensive, feeling like a failure, and wanting to create distance to protect himself. The second phrase feels more respectful and loving, giving him an opportunity to fix something for you.

Once I embraced this, it made a huge difference in my relationship.

FIVE: Date Night – do it.

Quality time with your man doesn’t just have to be takeout and a movie on the couch or an expensive meal at a restaurant. Mix it up to bring more levity, playfulness and pleasure back into your relationship.

If you are wanting more passion and more spontaneity in your relationship, create space for it in your life. A quote I love (and I’m blanking on who said it right now) is: You can tell a lot about a person’s values by looking at their checkbook and calendar.

Tim and I (both recovering workaholics) have made mandatory date night once a week, where we turn off our cell phones and take turns planning a fun date for the other person. It’s usually a total surprise and we encourage unique, budget-friendly ideas {including a candlelit picnic on the floor in front of the fireplace playing spanish guitar and pretending we are in Spain}.

When you create the container in your schedule for love and play, it’s a lot more likely to happen.

SIX: Give respect and appreciation when you aren’t in each other’s presence.

Your sweetheart is one of the most important people in your life. You’ve chosen him to be your person, making showing respect and appreciation in their absence just as important as when you are in person.

This means that bad mouthing or blaming your man at girl’s wine night is a total no no.

Although it can sometimes be tempting to make your man a scapegoat for your insecurities, frustrations, and general exhaustion, resist the temptation. It’ll keep the sacredness and integrity of your relationship intact.

No guilt. No shame. All love.

SEVEN: Effective Arguing

After 10 years of arguments, this framework I’m about to share with you has transformed the way we argue.

It’s really helpful particularly when you find both of you are saying the same thing to each other over and over again, both ending with “but you aren’t listening to meeeee!”

You start by making a rule when things are starting to get heated between the two of you. The rule is that, after one person speaks, the other one can’t start giving their side until they have repeated back what the first person has said and the first person verifies it as accurate. Then the second person gives their response, and the first person has to repeat that back, have it verified, then respond again.

This method slows down the pace (and anger levels) of each person, and helps get to a conclusion {and reconnection} faster.

EIGHT: Take time apart

Taking time away from your sweetheart to pursue your passions, dabble, play with your friends, and be expressive in a way that feels good for you is an amazing way to keep your relationship happy and healthy.

The expectation that you need to do all things with your partner all the time, to me, is no good.

I have found that, by encouraging each other to explore yours passions outside of the relationship, you strengthen the bonds of you love when you come back together.

NINE: Comparison is the thief of joy.

Get honest with yourself. You can never really know all the dirty details of that attractive couple you know who seems to be in the perfect relationship. Perfect sex life. Always getting along. Giving each other love and affection. Posting the prettiest romantic vacation photos on facebook.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, only a real one.

So, instead of looking at other couples and wishing you had what they have, focus on what you’ve got. The day I decided to stop wishing I had a RomCom romance and instead started focusing on cultivating real, deep intimacy with my man, I felt sooooo relieved.

Seriously ladies, compare = despair.

~
What about you? Do you have an awesome tip for keeping the spark alive in your relationship? What about valuable lessons learned about love? I’d love to learn about them. Leave it in the comments below, sweet one.

Photo by Melody White Studios

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