On August 24th, Benny and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!
YAY FOR US!
To celebrate, he and I got a babysitter and went out for dinner at Toro Bravo. We had the tasting menu and it was delicious, but seriously, it was so much food. I didn’t even want dessert and if you know me, you’ll know that is extremely rare.
On our way there, Benny took my hand and sweetly asked me, “What is your favorite thing about our relationship?”
I answered him without thinking too much about it – I don’t do well under pressure – I felt bashful! I said some sweet things, but I didn’t love my answer – I knew I had more to say, if I had more time to think about it.
So, I kept thinking about it.
I thought about it during our date, I thought about it when we got home. I’ve been thinking about it since then and I think that finally, I’ve found my answer.
What I love most about our relationship is the way that we love each other.
It’s that simple.
Right now, Benny and I can agree that we are the happiest we have ever been in our relationship – it’s not that we were unhappy before, but right now things feel so healthy – so easy.
Our love has grown into a new way of being. We have started to love each other with intention.
Every day, he and I make the decision to hold ourselves accountable for our relationship’s success – we don’t run on auto pilot anymore.
We strive for love in our every day and do what it takes to come from a place of understanding. Because of this, we have been growing together as individuals and within our marriage.
I feel supported to be me. I feel heard. I feel safe and understood.
Now, don’t get me wrong – we have our shit. Sometimes I want to strangle Benny. Sometimes, I am so annoyed with him that I vent to my friends about it, or huff and puff around the house. Sometimes I want space and sometimes he isn’t close enough. We struggle, like most couples do – the difference is, now we talk about it instead of arguing about it.
We put our love before our egos.
Moving toward loving intentionally instead of falling back on old habits comes down to just a few things:
Owning your shit. Instead of getting defensive when your partner tells you that something you have done has upset them, believe them! We all have our own emotional history and wounds – it’s important to look inward and see how you could avoid this trigger in the future instead of getting defensive and putting blame on something else. This helps not only to grow as a couple, but also to grow as an individual.
In the last two months, Mateo has become increasingly clingy and has been sleeping a lot less. By the end of the day, I feel touched out and tired. Even though I felt that I was doing a good job balancing my mom life with our romantic life, Benny didn’t entirely agree. His love languages are touch and words of affirmation and I realized, I had hardly been doing either of those things for him! Sure, I was telling him that I loved him every day and I was making time to be intimate, but for him, that wasn’t enough. He told me that he felt like I wasn’t interested in him anymore. He didn’t feel loved. I could have gotten defensive and in the past, that would’ve been my go to – “I’m tired! The baby is always on me! You never make ME feel loved! You’re always away, anyway!” but instead, my heart broke for him. I felt terrible! The last thing I ever want to do is to hurt my partner. I chose to love him! I looked inward. I set the intention to show him how much I love and desire him – I give him longer, warmer hugs, I kiss him when we greet each other, I give him praise and make sex something that I make time for, not just something we can do if we have time. I’ve started to speak his language again and he noticed!
Picking your battles. You may not like everything that your partner does, but that doesn’t mean that they need to hear about it. When Benny gets home from work at 3am, he likes to take his pants off and get comfortable. I totally understand wanting to get comfortable, but when he does, he just leaves his pants on the floor, or draped over a chair. It drives me nuts!
There are pants left all over the house – upstairs, downstairs, by the door, in the kitchen. There was a time where I would get upset about this and often, it would turn into an actual fight!
What a waste of energy, fighting about pants.
Now, I just roll my eyes, pick them up and throw them in the hamper. In the grand scheme of things, will his pants on the floor outweigh all of the other wonderful parts of our marriage?
Showing gratitude. Let your partner know how much you appreciate them! Do something kind without being asked or with the expectation of having the gesture reciprocated.
Say thank you for the things that you usually take for granted.
Every now and again, Benny will thank me for doing his laundry or for cooking dinner and it makes me so happy to know that he appreciates what I do for him in the day to day.
Even better is when he does my chores for me so I can relax. He knows that there is no easier way to get in my pants than to empty the dishwasher.
Supporting each other. Let your partner follow their heart and help to support their personal growth. Don’t let the fear that changes might ruin your relationship, ruin your relationship. Change is hard, but inevitable.
When Benny was offered a job working for a company that would require him to travel frequently, I encouraged him to take the job. I knew that this was something that he really wanted. I wanted him to follow his dreams, even though it meant that we wouldn’t be together as often and that I would be alone to care for both of our children for long periods at a time.
For me, this has been the most difficult change that I’ve had to accept, but I am really working on it. He and I strive not to let resentments build up, so, whenever I am feeling really sad and lonely, I talk to him about it. He also knows that sometimes, I just need to vent and he lets me, even when it may make him feel bad. I’m not looking for him to make a change, I am just looking for a shoulder.
His personal growth is just as important our growth together (and vice versa)
Marriage can be hard sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be a battle! These are our partners, after all!
By choosing to love my partner over everything else, I’ve changed the way that I love and we have found a place of (mostly) harmony. It’s still a work in progress but by setting the intention, I’ve already done most of the work!