I have always been a romantic at heart. I got started dating early and by 19 was already living with a boyfriend after a long string of semi-serious relationships. Then I met my best friend, and shortly after that fell in love with him. After my relationship ended, we began dating. My heart knew right away it had found its soulmate and I had no doubt that we would be together forever.
Unlike many of my peers, I got married, at age 24. This year my husband and I will celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary and I’m happy to say our marriage is strong and full of love. It’s everything a marriage should be!
We are not religious, conservative and do not have any kids together. We were both sexually active before marriage. The decision to marry was personal and made out of a deep feeling of romantic love. Although this is not a choice that I would recommend to everyone, it has resulted in a wonderful and loving partnership between myself and my best friend. If you’ve ever wondered if a healthy relationship is possible – it is! Here’s how we do it:
- Communication – It’s hard to tell the truth when you mess up or to speak up for what you need, or to hurt the other person’s feelings. But communicating your needs, your boundaries, your disappointment, and most of all your love helps your partner give you what you need. Tell each other you love each other all day, every day.
- Forgiveness – this may be the most important component. Resentment builds up over time. Little things left unsaid or needs that have been ignored can turn into hatred. When you wrong your partner, whether it was intentional or unintentional, you must apologize. Defensiveness exacerbates any problem. Likewise, you must always find it in your heart to forgive your partner, no matter what they’ve done. Easier said than done, I know – but with practice, apologizing and forgiveness becomes a habit that creates a bubble of respect and care between two people.
- Shared interested and goals – It’s interesting how many people I meet who have partners that don’t seem to care what is important to them. The person you love should be as passionate as you about what you care about, or at least understand that passion so they can support you in achieving your goals and being happy.
- Sex – seriously, you have to keep making an effort. Don’t get lazy, don’t stop dressing up for each other, keep it interesting. Sex is what keeps us connected on a physical level. It’s the backbone of a healthy relationship.
Waking up next to the person who knows me best and cares about me the most is the most wonderful gift I could ever ask for. But like anything worth having in life, it takes work. I recommend these relationship strategies to anyone, not just people who are thinking about being formally married. Have fun!