It is sooo weird writing an article about relationships considering I’ve only been in two relationships my entire life—seriously, two. Even though I don’t have a lot of experience with relationships, my current one has taught me so much. I’ve been with Matt for the past two and a half years and we’re getting married this December—I couldn’t be more excited! Over the past couple years, Matt and I have grown to understand one another better and we have learned how to communicate our love in ways that will be best received by the other person. So here are just a few of the things that we have found work in our relationship...
We put effort into understanding and responding to each others’ emotions
I’ll be the first to admit it: I am high-maintenance when it comes to my emotional needs. Matt has to put up with a lot from me, and sometimes I even feel bad for him. It can be impossible to know how to respond. Run away and stay hidden? Head to the store for flowers and Twizzlers? Smother with attention? Matt has put a lot of effort into understanding my emotional needs and learning how to respond in ways that will diffuse my bad mood (it’s usually flowers and Twizzlers). I’ve tried to do the same when it comes to him—although he’s nowhere near as emotionally needy as me. I’ve found that he likes having someone listen to him vent about work for a while and then wants nothing more than relaxation and a back scratch, and when it comes to his cooking-gone-bad it is best to let him steam for a little bit without commenting on it. Eventually, when dinner turns out delicious, his mood will turn around. Putting effort into understanding and learning how to respond to each others’ emotions shows we legitimately care about one another’s happiness.
We do small things for one another that mean a lot
Although others wouldn’t consider waking up to a chilled coffee meaningful, I love that Matt thinks about me every morning and takes the time to put a coffee in the fridge so I can make an iced coffee when I get up. He also surprises me by throwing pineapple in the freezer and bringing home my favorite dried fruit and yogurt mix from the store (this article makes it seem like my life revolves around food...) He keeps a running list of anything I mention wanting and surprises me on special occasions with gifts I don’t even remember mentioning but absolutely love. He takes care of our dog Checkers on mornings when he is up first and helps with things around the house when I’m overextended and overwhelmed. Basically, he’s amazing to me and all of these small acts make me feel loved. I also do small gestures that he finds meaningful, like packing him lunches for work, giving him back scratches (I already mentioned this, the man goes nuts for back scratches), and making him his favorite desserts. Sometimes actions speak louder than words!
We compliment, encourage, and generally make one another feel good
Believe it or not, girls can be really critical of themselves—I can be pretty rough on myself at times. And even though I’ll get uncomfortable and tell Matt to stop anytime he holds eye contact and gives me a sincere compliment, it means a lot deep down. Every girl loves to be told they’re beautiful and smart and funny, and I’m no exception. And you know what else? Guys love to be complimented too! Matt is all smiles when I call him handsome or compliment his cooking skills. It’s so simple to think of something great about the person you love and compliment them on it and it can have such a big impact. We also encourage one another to achieve our goals—Matt supports me in my schoolwork and I encourage Matt to go for that promotion at work.
We say thank you and show our appreciation
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get angry when my fiancé doesn’t acknowledge the things I do for him—like, really angry. I know that the things I do for him should be out of love and not for recognition, but that doesn’t mean I want my hard work or effort to go unnoticed. Everyone likes feeling appreciated! A simple thank you can go a long way. I do my best to thank Matt for everything he does for me, even the little things like paying for Starbucks. I know that doing these things is just another way to show love. Showing appreciation, even just by saying thank you, can mean the world. And I’m not talking about doing something out of a feeling of obligation here—that just leads to resentment which is not grounds for a good relationship. The things we do for one another are done out of love, not obligation, and that makes them meaningful.
So there you have it—those are the things that we have found work in our relationship. Give them a shot and you might find that they work for you too!