I’ve come to the realization that fairytales are not just written with happiness, laughter and sweet kisses but with tears, mistakes and moments of confusion… and without ALL of these components your fairytale lacks the girth to go the distance. And who wants to start something that they can’t finish, or dread the process?
So, if you were hoping that I would be affirming the Disney propaganda, I apologize. It just isn’t the way life plays out. That’s not to say that your marriage can’t be amazing and worth the wait. It can be. It should be. But there are areas that you have to address within yourself, first. For example, the need to constantly feel like the center of your spouse’s (or boyfriend!) world.
If I can be totally transparent for a moment, I get it. Seriously. I love to receive compliments. I adore it when I am appreciated. I am ecstatic when I am desired. Unfortunately, Robbie is not the most romantic or complimentary man. So, for awhile I struggled with feeling like I was missing out on the auditory appreciation. I KNEW that he loved me, found me desirable and appreciated me BUT sometimes I wanted to HEAR it. I think that’s natural. Everyone wants to be noticeably appreciated at some point. This is especially true when their love language is “words of affirmation”. Which mine is. In fact, having constant communication, in general, is something that I find absolutely necessary.
Let’s take a moment there. The love language that you best RESPOND to, may not be the same that your significant RECEIVES best. Take the time to share how you desire to be loved and communicated with and then actively put in place practices to love them how they desire. It’s a two way street. You can’t read each other’s minds but you can actively pursue their heart by listening. Just because you have a different perspective does not negate their need. If your man’s love language is touch, amp up the PDA! I’m sure that he will be more inclined to communicate his love for you in the way that you want in return. It’s a natural progression. If you don’t know what your (or their!) love language is, check out the examples below (in no particular order) and start being intentional about putting them into practice:
- Words of affirmation: If you are communicating through this love language, you are using your words to affirm your hubs/boyfriend/boo. Keep in mind that for those who RECEIVE in words of affirmation, negative or hurtful comments can cut deep and take an inordinate amount of time to heal.
- Physical Touch: everyday physical connections, like handholding, kissing, or any type of re-affirming physical contact is greatly appreciated.
- Acts of Service: actions speak louder than words, personified. Your hunny needs to know that you recognize they have a full plate and you are willing to alleviate some of the load. Or perhaps you receive best in this language and washed dishes gets you all giggly!
- Gifts (Giving or receiving): a meaningful or thoughtful present can make the giver or receiver feel loving or loved, respectively.
- Quality time: give your undivided attention when you are together, talking or just sharing space.
Now as for me, I should have immediately addressed the need to be verbally affirmed with Rob instead of holding it in and allowing it to fester. I was slowly breaking my own heart and he had no way of knowing it. Thankfully, I finally began to share my concerns with him and he firmly informed me that he didn’t think it was necessary to do those things because there was no question about how he felt/feels about me. Seeing how upset I was helped him to realize that what he thought was a given, needed to be SAID. I pointed out to him that by not doing that, it was easy for me to become interested in “friendships” that were heavily based on validation. I am NOT saying that I began dating others while dating him, I AM saying that I found myself seeking affirmation by way of compliments, exclusive time and general appreciation from all of my friends. To the point where I began to resent my time with Robbie because I didn’t think that he appreciated it (or me) enough. That mentality was incredibly toxic and detrimental. It could have permanently altered our course and changed my life. And not for the better.
I’m thankful that I woke up. I’m even more thankful that I talked to Robbie about it and he listened with grace instead of being defensive and feeling that I was trying to “fix the way he loves me”. I’m most thankful that I have learned that when we focus on Christ being the center of our relationship and equipping us with the tools to properly love one another…we will not be easily distracted and derailed. I began praying the scripture “Lord our eyes are upon you” when I found it most difficult to concentrate. It helped ease my heart in such a sweet way. It’s true that speaking the mentality that you want to have into existence, is the best way to ensure it’s fruition. It’s also true that stepping away from the perspective that your way is best can help you to identify the way that is fruitful. Sometimes the way to grow, is to let your spouse step into the light and shine FIRST. It’s not a competition, it’s a process.
If both of you are invested in the longevity of your relationship, you will take the time to figure each other out. Not caring how the other person feels will definitely end the fairytale feeling and drop you right into confusion, anger and discontent. Let’s just not go there. While we acknowledge that everyday won’t be perfect, they can be worth it if we put in the necessary work. You determine the trajectory of your relationship through your level of investment. The Disney expectations will leave you high and dry, my dear.
But, I’m happy to report that it’s not as complicated as you may think. If you love him, then just love him. Do your best by him. You have to be brave enough to seek out the love that you deserve. It’s worth it because if you love someone, you fight for them, over and over again.
Because the reality is that there WILL be fairytale moments. The moments when you wake up and are super thankful to share your space with this gorgeous human. There will be moments when they TOTALLY get you. You won’t have to explain yourself over and over. There will be moments when your eyes connect across the room and those old shivers still race up your spine. There will be days that you thank your Creator for creating this amazing man for you. Promise. But those moments are built in the fire. They are tested in the rain. They are strengthened through the tears.
If you want perfect 24/7, I will be the first to point you towards Jesus and a life spent with Him and Him alone. No earthly man will fulfill your desire for perfection. But they can meet your need for just right. Give them a chance and do your part. Remember, if you get married, you two are choosing to walk away from all former relationships, expectations, family households and personal biases. You are choosing each other. Over and over again.
Dear ones, keep in mind that a happy life (or fairytale) is not built upon a goal of perfection but balance. When we finally master scrolling through the IG and FaceBook love stories without growing jealous, we will have taken the first steps towards honoring our own relationships. The “highlight reel” should never be our ideal because we didn’t play a part in the behind the scenes work or effort. Focus on making your connection stronger and you will have the right fit for YOU.
Here are some of the ways that Rob and I have built a strong marriage that we can be proud of:
- We try. Daily. We don’t get lazy in our desire to stay connected, help out or communicate. We don’t always get it exactly right but we try.
- We laugh. A lot. Being angry is so exhausting, so we focus on having a good time and finding common enjoyment in the situations around us. Life is long, enjoy it.
- We talk. Even if it is in the middle of the night, we catch up on each other’s day and listen to how we faced our fears, conquered our goals and matched our expectations.
- We pray. Every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. It’s so empowering to have him in my corner seeking Christ and His will.
- We love. Hard. You won’t find another woman that feels this way about Rob. I absolutely believe in the man that he is and I am excited for the man he will become. I’m in it for the long haul. The “D word” isn’t in our dictionary.
If you seek after the Godly relationship that Christ has ordained for you, you will have a beautiful love story. It won’t be perfect but it will be for forever. That means so much more to me. Especially in a world where nothing stays the same and relationships end in a split second. I want to celebrate all of life’s joys with my husband…and to do that I must be prepared to work through life’s lows to truly appreciate the joyous moments.