What type of love-r are you? No, I’m not talking about THAT kind of lover, I’m talking about HOW you show and receive love!
As my husband and I have been active advocates of our marriage from day one, we have also remained true to our beliefs that LOVE IS A VERB, and we understand that we both show and receive love differently.
Back-tracking a bit, I’ve gotten quite a few messages, or inquiries rather, about the topic of love, and how my marriage has been plentiful. And that is what prompted me to share this with you!
When my husband and I first met, we developed a bottomless friendship with a truly transparent understanding of who we were, exactly where we had been, and what we were committed to for the future. We engrossed all of our faults and merged in to one, joint open-book.
We came together at a time of leaving our adolescent years of struggles behind us (as well as after healing from traumatic life events as well); we shared beliefs and taught each other valuable lessons from our own personal experiences. Actually, I think the most profound influence on our bounty, was our pasts. We both had histories of unfit relationships, and although I was 6 years younger than him, we both had been out on our VERY own since we were teenagers. We were ready for the WORK it took to develop a righteous relationship.
See, I don’t believe in “the one”, I believe in actively loving the one you have and are committed to, as your only one. This made an immeasurable difference in our relationship and our expectations. That is because we never worked on our relationship out of fear, or just to prove that we didn’t fail and that we were “meant” for each other. We worked on our relationship because WE BOTH CHOSE TO.
And perhaps just as important, was the time we took to develop an unwavering trust in each other, true respect for each other’s personal boundaries and freedoms, and above all else, loving encouragement for each other towards becoming the best versions of ourselves, yet always with understanding and never with judgment.
It didn’t take long for us to feed off of each others’ integrity and commitment to the above-mentioned way of life that we founded together – to realize that we were meant to navigate the rest of our lives, including marriage, deep love, and our future children, hand-in-hand.
Unfortunately though, many people don’t arrive at such crossroads before they commit to saying “I do.” So whether you are dating seriously, thinking of marriage, a marriage needing work, a serial one-dater, going from relationship-to-relationship, or just navigating living life with others, here are some things I truly believe will make the trek a bit easier to pilot.
First of all, you need to know yourself. Your faults, your needs, why your past relationships didn’t work, every possible detail about yourself. Have a relationship with yourself. This way, you can understand how it is you feel love, what makes you happy and what just doesn’t fly with your unique energy. (*Funny fact: My husband and I both used to go see movies in theatre by ourselves in our single lives (before we knew each other), something our friends laughed at us about – but was part of the imperative time getting to know ourselves.)
MEN AND WOMEN ARE EQUAL, YET DIFFERENT//
We are physically different, yes, but there are also psychological differences between men and women that profoundly affect the way we function in a relationship and the way we believe things to be true. When a man and a woman enter into a relationship, a mistake would be to expect each other to not be true to physiological differences. (I personally believe that this is one of the most exciting details of being in a relationship with the opposite sex.)
But however men and women differ, there still are the same basic needs, and of those, is love. You may think showing someone love is an easy-task, but there is a fine print to everyone’s heart. That fine print consists of directions on HOW to love that unique individual and HOW they give their own love away.
*A NOTE for my female-readers: Each one of us has had a unique journey to womanhood. Some of us were raised with fathers, some of us weren’t; some of us dealt with body issues, some of us haven’t; some of us have had a smooth path to becoming a woman, and some just haven’t. But regardless, we should never let our pasts make us bitter. It’s true that not every man is the same, but it’s even truer that one man is not the same man throughout their entire life, either. In my teen years I was gifted a book, “Girlosophy: A Soul Survival Kit”. The author, nomadic writer Anthea Paul, said it true: “Men are not the enemy, even if you’ve been told they’re from Mars. They can be your best friend.” I believe that a man’s loyalty is unlike any other gift on Earth.
DIFFERENT LOVE LANGUAGES//
My husband and I were given Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages”, as well as “GOD Speaks Your Love Language”, during one of our (pre-children) marriage retreats, years ago. The latter book dives in to a personal and intimate divine-love, whereas “The Five Love Languages”, explains the five basic love languages – different ways that beings express love and feel loved.
The truth is that just because a husband takes out the trash, doesn’t mean the wife feels loved, although the husband may feel loved by acts of service the wife commits to – like making his lunch. Each person has a unique way that they feel loved, as well as give love. However, in a relationship, it’s imperative to be able to navigate and understand the differences in order to have mutually full love-tanks. (Find more information on this – here.)
My personal beliefs entail of the man being the “head of the household”. Not to say that women are any less able to provide for their families (as I DO believe in that as well). But I grew up with a sturdy, traditional example of marriage, and I know that an empowered man, who is respected by his wife, in return, truly loves and adores her, and thus creates a beautiful union and family dynamic that reaches generations to come.
I believe in mutual respect. I believe that for a man to be able to BE the best version of himself, his woman must truly respect him (and vice-versa). As women, when we respect our man’s judgment and abilities, we give them the priceless gift of confidence in providing for their family. However, true respect is not the same thing as blind respect. As partners in life, we still must lean on each other to make joint decisions, however, without that foundation of respect, one is less likely to involve the other in such important decisions.
(*NOTE: I tend to rely on the female voice, since that is my personal experience.)
When you can reveal your bare soul to your partner, you can create a foundation of faithful trust. However, in today’s world, trust is not our natural human-state by the time we have reached adulthood. We have been seasoned with mistrust. But without trust, a relationship will never flourish. So be honest with yourself, for that is the first step to building trust in another.
Listen to each other without judgment, this allows an open communication platform – another essential for a plentiful relationship/marriage. When a woman is open and receptive to a man’s faults, a man can feel safe to be his true self – and in return, less likely to hide things from his woman.
GRACE & FORGIVENESS//
A lot of immature relationships or people, who are not yet ready for “the work” it takes for a successful marriage/relationship, encompass a score-keeping tracker within them. But score-keeping is in reality, a form of manipulation. It is a waste of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy – energy that could be otherwise used for positive effects on a relationship. If a woman is busy keeping track of all the wrongs her man has committed, she is preoccupied and unable to see the positives. This type of negative mindset leads to destruction.
Now if a relationship encompasses the other 5 points mentioned so far in this article, then there should be no need for score-keeping, as there should not be any big trespasses upon each other. But rather, there will be a fountain of forgiveness – forgiveness of simple annoyances or forgetfulness. In total, we must not look to ‘get even’, but rather to forgive, that way our natural state of joy will flourish!
“Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.” –Matthew Henry
Perhaps along with forgiveness, grace is one of the most important qualities of any human – in a relationship or not. But, in terms of a relationship or marriage, grace is a lifeline. Without it, discontent and even resentment can move in.
“As we get close to God there are times of trial and testing. We can tell if we are clay or gold by how we respond. If we are clay, we become hard; if we are gold, we melt and flow with God’s purpose.” –Anonymous
Grace is free and unmerited. Within a relationship, it recognizes and respects differences, it lovingly serves without expecting anything in return, it harbors trust, and contains clear boundaries.
Along with the importance of grace, is the importance of time.
As selfishness is being concerned primarily or only with oneself and/or ones’ passions, it does not allow the time a relationship needs to nurture. People grow apart without the time to make meaningful connections. When one person dictates the time of the relationship unit – the other person can end up suffocated.
On the same token, men and women, wives and husbands, need personal space to evolve as individuals as well. That’s because life never ceases to throw its’ curveballs and trials. Time to process privately is important since each person does so differently. Not only is time-to-reflect needed, but time-to-appreciate is as well. (However, without trust, alone time becomes a conflict.)
As noted as #1 in this article, knowing yourself is key. Therefore, someone who is in-tune with who they are, may also require alone time to either just be, or to indulge in self-care.
I personally believe that self-care is a necessity, and to me, self-care means quiet time to reflect, journal, detox, and fine-tune my subconscious. Self-care allows you to be true with yourself, and in return, those you are in a relationship with.
To temporarily bring this list to a close, I must thank you for being open to my personal beliefs, and my transparency to share. Through my marriage, in the course of working through the details of each other, we vowed to always work on the evolution of our love and ourselves. This article reflects that, but just as we seemingly conquered our early marriage years, we now have entered a new chapter of our life together, called parenthood!
So as where we are today is a true testament as to what mutual respect can blossom within a marriage, stay-tuned for future shares of how we navigate through marriage with children.