So, do you feel in a rut in your relationship? Or if not in a rut, are there times that you wish you were closer or had the feeling of more connectedness? I am by no means a relationship expert, but I definitely know what doesn’t work! :):) After more than a year-and-a-half of having a significant other that lives 250 miles away, I’ve realized why our situation is so successful.

First off, compatibility is key- which is a no-brainer. You have to have enough things in common, but not be the exact same person. Having two extreme introverts whom have anger issues may not work well. Or on the converse, having two extroverts that only want to spend time doing things when others are around, with poor communication, won’t work either. You get the point.

So, here is a list of things that we do that work well for us. And I really wasn’t cognizant of these things until I started thinking about today why our relationship is so awesome.

1. Communication

And I’m not just talking about texting each other cute emojis 20 times a day. I’m talking about investing time and energy into that person through real conversation. If you’re like us and only see each other on the weekends, it is very important to speak regularly. Even if you do see each other every day and have super demanding jobs and fall into bed at night and have only spent an hour together, you may need to do more talking throughout the day as well. In my situation, we talk about a range of things from the Iran nuclear deal, to our dissatisfaction at work, to how to deal with our families. It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, but making the time a few times a day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes each time, will really make a difference. And that frequent habit of conversing will allow you not to hold in things that bother you because the conversation will flow easily. It can work for any couple that wants to make it happen.

2. Sharing a Hobby

Now if your mate is into Dungeons & Dragons and you are into cross stitching, it’s not expected for you guys to want to participate in everything your partner is interested in. But find one thing that you guys both have a love for, and do it together. We are both avid readers. He has probably read a lot more than I have and more of a wide range of books, but I read more often because I have more time during the day than he does. Because we have different taste in genres, we have decided to explore some Classics together. Right now we are reading A Farewell to Arms. It is allowing us to join together and do something collectively and adds to our repertoire of things to talk about. We didn’t do this consciously, but we both wanted to make reading a priority and watch less television, so we decided to do it as a team. We still have our separate hobbies, but we can come together to enjoy something that we both have a fondness of. Try it, it’s amazing!

3. Worship

We are both Christian, yet we do not attend church as often as we used to, but we still have a desire to seek God and discuss the Bible because spirituality is an ever-evolving practice. ML knows quite a lot about the Bible. He has taught several Bible study classes at a progressive church he went to in New York where are all of the members of the small congregation lead worship from time to time. I am not as biblically astute as he, but I was spent my entire life saying prayers and went to church when I was younger and started up again when I was in my twenties. God has always been a significant part of my life but as I’ve gotten busier He has not been at the forefront at times. The both of us have a desire to seek God more, and we are trying to do a weekly Bible study via FaceTime with my kid so that we can all learn and grow together. If you are not religious per se, whatever you do that you consider spiritual, be it yoga or meditation, include your partner if you already are not. It can create a closeness that is invaluable.

4. Laugh

This may seem obvious and you may think-duh!!! But sometimes when life gets crazy and scary and complicated, we forget how healing laughter can be. We have been through a heck of a lot in the last less than 2 years. Finances, health issues, job loss, parental responsibility, aging parents, legal matters- you name it! Many if you can relate, heck I’m sure most of you can. But no matter how depressed I have been or how stressed he is, we always make jokes and laugh and take whatever is happening like a champ. Cutting up and being silly, making up funny rhymes and songs is a big part of who we are. ML says that he has never had a woman make him laugh as much as I do. He makes me laugh out loud as well, and that is hard because I don’t find everyone funny. As good as he’s been to me and as much as he listens to different problems I’ve had, the least I can do is keep it light-hearted and try to make him smile. One day I’m going to be the person that will have to be supportive when he faces trials, and I know that we’ll make it through because of our sense of humor. It can do wonders for your relationship too, if you approach life together and take on everything as one, and with a smile on your face.

5. Teamwork

I think that this one encompasses everything that I’ve been talking about. If you work as separate entities in literally every way, you probably won’t last for long. ML is quite stubborn and is used to doing things a certain way. And he had a wife in the past who approached everything as a single person, and was very controlling, and was the opposite of being a team player. I, have lived alone for many years, even raising a child alone for a decade. I’ve been the person in charge. And I’m used to running things. He says I’m bossy, and he is probably right. But I’m used to doing things on my own and often don’t know how to accept help because even when I was married, my ex-husband did nothing to contribute to the day-to-day of the household. I feel like I’ve never really had a partner to share the load with. So we both had to let go a little bit and take a step back and work as a team. I communicate with him quite often about this (we both do) and tell him I’m sorry if I approached something this way or if I responded that way. I remind him that I have always had to handle things and not have someone help me solve it. And he’s very good at problem solving. So we’ve discussed areas where we lack, and instead of attack each other for being the way we are, we try to be a lesser version of the stubborn person or that bossy person. It can be difficult sometimes to let go and change, but it will be worth it for you in the end.

So I’ve written quite a lot about what works for us, and I think it could work for basically any couple or family. They are pretty general categories that most people can relate to or probably need to work on. And trust me, just because our relationship is successful doesn’t mean that we don’t get under each other’s skin sometimes. But as with pretty much anything in life, it’s all about the way that we approach things…

simply~

Dee

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