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10 lessons learned in love

1. Share your faith
Life is going to challenge us. That’s a fact that we simply cannot avoid. We will undoubtedly face obstacles within ourselves as individuals and within our families as a whole throughout the course of our relationship. And when adversity strikes we may find ourselves feeling tempted to allow our circumstances to infect the positive things around us. Most frequently, the person impacted most dramatically is the one that is closest to us. Isolate your issues and feed your faith in times of trouble. Pray together. Go to church. Keep your collective commitment to your Lord and Savior, and He’ll ensure that life’s difficulties never become a threat to your future with your loved one.

2. Emotions lie
When we make decisions based upon emotion, we often live to regret the outcomes. This rule applies to every area of our lives, including our relationships. Emotionally driven responses lead to poor choices in communication and to hurtful and sometimes devastating consequences. We need to police our emotions. Before we react, we need to analyze the facts. Is what we’re feeling a result of the immediate situation? Or is there a weight inside of us personally that we are carrying that’s clouding our decision making? Step away, calm yourself, and think before you respond in a confrontation. Your emotions cannot be trusted. If they are not disciplined, they will take advantage of and tarnish even the most vibrant relationships.

3. Intimacy takes effort
Intimacy is that closeness that we all desire to share with the person that we love. Many times we think of intimacy as that picture perfect moment of affection that we experience together against a romantic backdrop of our choosing. You know the images… Waves crashing on a beach against a sunset sky as two lovers hold hands and share a perfect kiss… We all have our own views of how those priceless moments will pan out with one another. But that’s not true intimacy. Intimacy can happen anywhere. It doesn’t require a perfect setting or impeccable timing. Intimacy requires trust. It involves two partners letting go of fear, and letting love in. And when you share those commitments with one another, your bond will allow you to experience intimacy everywhere that you go in your relationship. A simple smile acknowledging your love can evoke intimacy among partners who are truly connected.

4. Forget the fairytale ending
True love is not a journey with a beginning and an end. Storybook fairytale endings of love and romance tend to only create unrealistic expectations that later trigger resentment within relationships. Let me let you in on a little secret… You are not perfect, and your partner is not either. That relationship of yours, it’s going to take a lot of hard work. And there are no magical rainbows in sight beyond your life’s prescribed milestones of achievement. There is only more growth. True love is committing to placing your value in the journey, not the destination. Because we will never truly arrive. We will always have things to work on as both individuals and as partners in our relationships. So find someone who’s willing to go the distance with you. And cherish the journey as you write your own story. There are no limits.

5. Patience truly is a virtue
Patience can be difficult these days. In our fast paced, tech driven society we want access to everything instantaneously. We can grow irritable and agitated when minor glitches set our tasks off course by mere seconds. The mindset that we’ve grown accustomed to in 2014 is not healthy for us socially. It’s a threat to our relationships. Humans are not programmed to respond to our requests with the speed of a Google search. We need to recognize this, because it’s important that we do not grow impatient in our interactions with our loved ones. We must learn to slow down, listen, acknowledge, and share compassion with those that we care about. If we neglect these things, our relationships will suffer. Today’s technology is amazing, but no matter how limitless it may appear, it cannot build or sustain relationships. Only humans can do that, and we are wired far differently. We require a nurturing, loving approach for growth and development. We require patience.

6. Don’t forget to look in the mirror
As our relationships develop over time, too often we tend to grow far too skilled at pointing the finger. We see something in our partner that drives us crazy, and we react to it. And as their behavior becomes more predictable to us, we develop our hot button responses to set their course straight again. If we’re not careful, the nudges that we offer will lead to distance in our relationships. And our loved ones will begin to feel undervalued and inadequate. And that’s simply not fair. Because at the voice of our critical reactions is a very flawed human being. We all have our faults. So we need to remember to look in the mirror and remind ourselves of that before we decide to become the judge in our relationships. We will most likely find that many of us embody the same types of flaws in ourselves that we find in our partners. Perhaps that’s the real reason that those limitations drive us so crazy.

7. Share the love
We cannot get the most out of our relationships if we are not willing share our love with one another. In life, we experience a lot of ups and downs. The truth is, no matter where we are now, we all have a past. And in that past there are likely a few what-might-have-beens, several disappointments, and a handful of painful heartaches. We need to accept that our partner has very likely had their own share of similar experiences. And together, we must work to overcome any walls inside of one another that may have been built to protect us from future let downs in relationships. We must encourage each other and lead with love at all times, remembering that emotional baggage can be difficult to discard as we move forward in our lives. We must build mutual trust to such a level that we can agree that our new love is worth the risk, and then we must scale the walls that have held us back from one another. We must let go and share the love.

8. Appreciate the work
It’s very important in relationships that we share our gratitude for one another. In our day to day lives, each of us will be confronted with unique challenges that others cannot possibly understand without actually walking a day in our shoes. Our personal difficulties are no more overwhelming than our partners simply because we perceive them that way. We don’t know what they experience. But it’s important that we try to understand, empathize, and show our general appreciation for their commitment to their work and to our cause. This is a team effort. We need to remember that. Showing gratitude will only serve to reinforce the strength of our bond with one another. When we feel appreciated, we tend to work harder and view our relationship as an investment. And at day’s end, when we make a deposit for our team, our future benefits in a big way.

9. Offer a reassuring touch
One of the biggest fears that partners seem to encounter in relationships is the fear of abandonment. These fears may occur at the onset of a relationship as a result of past experiences or they may develop later on when time perhaps creates a bit of staleness and distance between partners. We worry, are we good enough? Do our partners still love us like they once did? Do they still find us attractive? These questions and negative conversations within us are not healthy. So what is it that we can offer as a partner to help ensure that our loved ones do not head down these paths of worrisome destruction? We can offer a simple, reassuring touch. This is not a one-time thing, it’s a daily commitment. Hold her hand, give her a hug, put your arm around her, cuddle with her on the couch, lay tight next to her in bed – let her know that you’re there, and that you’re committed to be by her side forever. Then rinse and repeat. Ladies, this applies to you as well. Men like women who can’t keep their hands off them, too.

10. Fight for it
Earlier we touched on the idea that true love is a journey and that it does not come equipped with a fairytale, storybook ending. In fact, it doesn’t come with any ending laid out for us whatsoever. Our relationships are free to take the paths that we choose. There are no guarantees. Along our journey, we will undoubtedly encounter countless stumbling blocks. There will be critics, there will be temptations, and there will be others who desire to see us apart. And we will find that there are far more reasons for us to fail than there are for us to succeed. We must accept this. We must recognize that it’s not going to be an easy road. And we must value each other enough to ignore the odds and fulfill our commitment to chase our dreams for a better life, together. When we are tested, we must respond. We cannot quit, we must stay and fight. Some days it may be ugly. Love is a battle. But true love never relents. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Happy Two Year Anniversary to the love of my life! I put this together for you tonight, my dear. I hope that you understand just how much I value our commitment to each other. I’m here for you always. Thank you for being a part of this amazing journey with me. I can’t wait to see where our road will lead.

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