Wednesday, February 19, 2014

21 things i know about love

In honor of Valentine’s Day I thought I would write a blog post. This was my first Valentine’s Day married. It’s crazy to me that Scott and I will have been married for a year come the end of March.

Sometimes we feel like fresh newly weds, bright eyed and bushy tailed and have literally NO clue what we are doing and other times we feel like we’ve been married for a long time because we feel so comfy and close together. 

As a marriage and family therapist I went into marriage terrified and wanting to do everything right. I figured if I studied for 8 years how to have the perfect and most healthy relationship surely I could do it! Education is a funny thing and so is book knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I studied. I am grateful to be practicing therapy at the YMCA. However experiences can teach you things a bit faster than the books. There is no perfect formula.  Thankfully relationships are not like Algebra equations with only one answer. (if it was I would fail). Not one size fits all.  Here are a few things I’ve observed about love and being married over the past year.

1.    DON’T compare your marriage to someone else. This is not helpful on any level. My experience is my experience and that is what makes my marriage sacred. It is what we have experienced. Comparison only leads to shame. Scott and I like learning from other people’s relationships but we work hard not to compare ourselves because we are special and unique as we are.

2.    Learn to delight in the ways your spouse cannot be defined and the ways they cannot be tamed. I’m glad we are not robots. I’m glad there is madness, impulsivity, weirdness and creativity in my marriage. It makes the magic. 

3.    Do go to bed angry. Honestly sometimes Scott and I wake up the next morning and have no idea what we were fighting about. Trying to talk something out when you are angry, anxious and operating out of “limbic” mood is not a good way to resolve anything. Get some sleep so your brain has a minute to recover and the reasoning side of your brain will come back to life! It’s a miracle!

4.    Always, even when it’s lots of work, let your spouse love the parts of you that you would rather hide.

5.    Which leads me to my next piece of advice, don’t hide!!! As researcher and licensed social worker,  Brene Brown writes “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known”. To dare greatly is to be vulnerable.

6.    Have dinner together :)

7.    Make fun plans together and go on adventures. 

8.    Read to each other

9.    Be grateful for each other

10.   Be best friends

11.  Be ridiculous and impulsive

12.  Be your spouse’s greatest fan, loudest advocate, fiercest fighter and the one who can’t keep the confetti and balloons held back. Celebrate them.

13.     Enjoy the truth that you are bold enough to stand alone but embrace it when you’re tender enough to need support. It’s okay to need.

14.   Research continues to show that mutual physical affection creates a stronger bond by releasing oxytocin.  Affection can be very grounding after a hard day of work or after a vulnerability hang over. I enjoy “burrowing” as Scott puts it and I also enjoy “squishing” him.  I like it when Scott picks me up and twirls me around till we are both dizzy. I like it when we cook in the kitchen and slow dance together in an awkward rhythm.

15.   Buy each other prizes. Okay obviously this is my guilty pleasure but seriously this can’t hurt EVER. I love prizes. Sometims Scott comes home with chocolate or wine or flowers. Sometimes he buys me sharpie markers cause I am obsessed with them. He buys me Dr. Seuss books and candles. It makes my whole day.

16.  Have a date night.

17.  Write each other hand-written notes. 

18.  Take a deep breath and pray

19. Be attached.  Clinical Psychologist, Sue Johnson writes,“Although our culture has framed dependency as a bad thing, a weakness, it is not. Being attached to someone provides our greatest sense of security and safety"

20. Verbally affirm each other out loud. 

21.  “Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves” Nurture your love. Be tender with yourself and your spouse.