Today marks our anniversary. 13 years together. That's huge. It's a long time, but it feels like it has gone by in the blink of an eye.
We were practically babies, 17, when Todd asked me to the year 12 formal. When I nervously said yes I never could have imagined what was to come for us. I would never have guess that our first date would be the start of our love story and that we would be together from that moment onwards.
Some people doubted it would last, since we were so young. Others said they just knew we would last. Honestly I didn't know either way. I just fell, hard. And have been falling for him over and over ever since.
But life isn't always sunshine and rainbows. We have been through some tough times. They are inevitable when you are literally growing up together, becoming the people who you are meant to be. Which means you change. Which means your relationships changes. Then you throw in three babies, the Air Force and all the time apart that came with it. There has been a lot thrown at us. There have been a tonne of times when we could have just given up, walked away. But we haven't. There is too much love, respect and experiences together to just walk away. For both of us.
Here's what I've learnt over the last 13 years.
1. Things change. You change. He changes. That means your relationship will change. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. It's often a great thing. You just have to be open and prepared for it. If you allow yourselves the room to evolve it will bring so much to you both. There will be new things to learn about each other. I don't want to be the same person I was at 17, and I sure don't wish for our relationship to be the same. Things have grown so much since then.
2. It's not all about being wooed. Sure when you first start dating there is excitement, surprise dates, surprise presents. Firsts together. All so special. Then you add time and life is being lived. You can't expect your boyfriend / husband to still be bringing the romance every single day, not like in the beginning. But that doesn't mean it's gone. Or that he doesn't care anymore. You need to look for the little things. Like him rubbing your feet when you are snuggled on the couch. Or running you a hot bath when you are feeling run down. Or watching that rom com with you.
That's not to say there shouldn't be the good romance too. Dates, flowers, special moments. Cos there totally should be. But when they are only here and there as opposed to every week, you need to get it out of your head that it's all on a downward slide. It's not, just look at it like this. It makes it even more special when it does happen because it takes a whole lot once you have kids, jobs, lives to get that alone romantic time together.
3. It works both ways. You can't expect him to make the effort to romance you, if he is the last person that gets any consideration from you. If you always put him last, make him wait till later to talk, make him feel like an afterthought, it's hardly going to make him want to be all lovey dovey to you. Sometimes all it takes is giving him 5 minutes of undivided attention when he walks in the door to tell you about his day. Or making his favourite dinner. Or having the xbox turned on for when he gets home after a rubbish day. Or giving him a bit of space (even from the littles) when he walks in the door. Or getting up with him in the morning for a little one on one time together. Truly for men, it's those little gestures that count.
4. Don't try to change him. I don't mean those little things like picking up after himself, putting the toilet seat down or using the hamper instead of the floor. Go ahead, encourage change in those areas. I'm talking major changes. If he was a real homebody when you started out, 4 year from now he's probably still going to be a homebody. You can't get mad because he is. You knew he was in the beginning, did you start dating him for who he is or for who you thought you could turn him into? Same goes for all aspect of personality. Think about it like this. Would you want him to complain about a trait of yours (introvert, extrovert, quiet, loud) after years together when you've alway been that way and made no secret of it? Heck no you'd hate it. So will he.
5. You do however need to be considerate of each other. For example, in the beginning of your relationship one of you may have been a bit of a flirt, it may not have bothered him or you when things weren't too serious. Guarantee you it will once things do get serious. And if it does, that needs to be respected. Whether it's harmless or not is irrelevant. It's about showing the other person that you have considered and have respect for their feelings. End of story.
6. Children will change your relationship. Not necessarily in a bad way. It may make you love them even more seeing them love on your babies. But they may also irritate the heck out of you the way they change nappies, bath, feed, play with your babies. Most likely because it's not the exact way that you do it. Take a deep breath and go into the other room while they do it. They will gain confidence in their role and you will learn to chill out and just go with it. Some men will find it hard when a baby comes along and needs your attention 24/7. Involve him. Talk to him. Tell him you love him. Don't talk baby talk to him. And clean that spit up off your shoulder before you snuggle up to him. And a few random kisses here and there go along way to reassuring him that he's still important.
7. Support each other's dreams. Even if they scare the heck out of you. Otherwise it will just breed resentment. When Todd told me he wanted to join the Air Force, I may have freaked out. It would change our whole lives. Things happened, he hurt his knee, needed surgery, went on a waiting list. Then withdrew his application. I didn't think about it again. But he did. He was the whole time and when he said he wanted to try again, I freaked, again. So classy. But I never once told him or asked him not too. Even when I discovered that the training for his job would keep us living apart for almost a year. I encouraged him. I told him he would get in. I helped him study. I quizzed him. I put aside me own fears so he could follow his dreams. I'm so glad I did, but he has grown so much since enlisting. I have seen his confidence grow and his faith in his own abilities also. It's worth it, so much so.
8. Don't talk bad about your partner to anyone. Ever. No excuses. Why? Because that will become all they know about them in your relationship. The not great stuff. Because you won't call your friends / sister / mother to say he was nice to you will you? Or tell them everyday when things are going good. Which means that if you guys are going through a rough patch and you turn to them, they aren't going to have a lot of good stuff to say about him are they. No good can come from it.
9. There will be times when it all seems hopeless. Work through it. Pray through it. Seek help. Whatever it takes, just don't give up. That said, if you have agreed upon deal breakers and they are broken, it won't be a simple prospect. In this case seek counsel, seek real support and advice and take your time. You will know what to do once you have a clear head.
10. Don't expect your relationship, or your version of a happy relationship to look the same as anyone else's. No one else's relationship is the same. We all have different experiences, different obsticles, different challenges. And we all have different things that make us happy. So don't play the comparison game. It'll just make you feel rubbish, and will make things within your own relationship worse.
So there you have it, my words of wisdom on relationships. What are yours?
Happy anniversary to the love of my life. The peanut butter to my chocolate.
You rock babe.