I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the different seasons of relationships. I’m blessed to be married to an incredible, hard-working man who I love very much. But that doesn’t mean that things are always perfect for us. Marriage is a commitment and relationships take work. In order to make your love last, you have to put in the time and effort to establish a strong foundation to help you weather the different seasons of life.
Every relationship starts out in Summer. This is the beginning of the relationship, when you are first starting out on your journey together. Things are hot, sexy, and fun. My husband Angelo and I were lucky to have a long season of summer early on in our relationship. We were together for 4 years before getting married, and then enjoyed being newlyweds for 2 years before I became pregnant. We truly took the time to get to know one another, to travel, and to have adventures. This helped us set the foundation for the next season: Autumn.
I think of the time in which I was pregnant as Autumn. It was a time of shedding and letting go of our old personas and identities as we prepared to welcome our baby into the world. We knew that our lives were about to change drastically, and it was a time of releasing all of the habits and routines that would no longer serve us once we were parents. There is a big identity shift that happens when you become parents. During autumn, we started preparing for the inevitable change that was on the way.
When our daughter June was born, Angelo and I entered the season of Winter in our relationship. During this time, our romance took a backseat as the priority shifted to nurturing our beautiful baby girl. It was a time of quiet hibernation and our relationship entered survival mode. We were doing all we could to keep ourselves and our baby alive during this huge life adjustment. Winter can be cold and brutal, but it has its own unique beauty that can be found when you take the time to look for it. It also helps to know that this is a season, and that Spring is coming.
Angelo and I are currently in the Springtime. Our daughter is now 19 months old, and we have adjusted to life as a family of 3. We love being parents, and now that our daughter is slightly more independent, we have more time to focus on our relationship. We are in a season of renewal and rebirth. We are figuring out a way to get to know each other again as the new people that we’ve become. We are spending more time alone together and starting to re-prioritize our relationship. This is not always easy, but we are making an effort to allow our love to bloom.
As you can see, things are not always perfect in my marriage. But we are committed to navigating life together and maintaining a strong love for one another. I am very much aware that my relationship with my husband will be the model for my daughter’s future relationships. I want her to grow up in a home with two loving parents who have a healthy relationship. I think that there are 3 key things that create a solid foundation for any relationship:
1) Be besties.
Your partner should be your best friend. This is the person you have chosen to share your life with, so it is important that you share your life with them! Be open with each other. Share your hopes, dreams and secrets with one another. Confide in each other. Spend quality time together. Go on adventures. Have fun. Laugh.
2) Be intimate.
A relationship requires intimacy. Your partner should be your best friend, but not be ONLY your best friend. Being intimate is what crosses you over from being friends to being a couple. Keep that in mind. Be lovers. Even if you’re too tired, or not in the mood. Make an effort. At the very least, be affectionate. Cuddle together. Hold hands. Kiss. Hug. Make out. We all want to feel desired. A little physical touch can go a long way in sustaining a healthy relationship.
3) Be supportive.
You and your partner should be each other’s biggest cheerleaders in life. Encourage each other to have outside interests. Take an interest in one another’s hobbies. Allow your partner to be a happy, fulfilled individual, and do whatever you have to do to make sure that you are one as well! Praise your significant other. Acknowledge when they do something right, not just when they do something wrong. Cheer them on and do whatever you can to help them achieve their goals. Encourage one another. Cheer for each other. When one of you wins, you both win.
In my 9 year relationship, I’ve found that these 3 things are vital to making sure that my marriage is headed in the right direction. When I notice that Angelo and I are arguing a lot, or that things are a little off, I check in with these 3 ground rules, and usually notice that at least one of them is not being met. Having these guidelines gives me a great reference for knowing what I need to do to maintain a strong marriage no matter which season of life we happen to find ourselves in.
The media leads us to believe that a good relationship is one in which you are in an endless summer, but that’s just not true or realistic. Your seasons may look different from mine, depending on your life circumstances, but make no mistake, every relationship has its seasons. Create a strong foundation and you will find that you have what it takes to shelter you through any kind of weather.
Happy Valentine’s week my beautiful friends! Wishing you a beautiful week full of LOVE!