Lessons of Love #5

Being A Couple Doesn’t Mean That You’re No Longer An Individual

Why is it that sometimes, we commit so much of ourselves to our relationship that we feel like we no longer know who we are? This is something that Jessica and I have talked about for a while now. Whether it be our own personal experiences or those of our friends and family, everyone has been or knows someone who has been in that place. That place where they don’t know who they are anymore because their personality was all based on their relationship. I know that I’ve been there before and I wondered how I got to that point and what I could have done to avoid it. Do we simply forget who we are when we are in a relationship or is there something else at play?

That question has always bothered and baffled me, mostly because I know that I have felt like that in the past. However, thanks to some sound advice, and a few inspiring examples in my life, I’ve been able to understand why this happens and how to avoid it. Most importantly among those things that I’ve learned is to never forget that you’re an individual before you’re a couple. Though that may sound obvious to some people, the fact is that sometimes it’s not obvious. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about then try asking yourself this question: Did you do what you wanted to do this week, or did you do what you thought your partner would like to do this week?

If you answer is that you did what you wanted to do, then you’re being an individual in a relationship. If your answer is that you did what you thought your partner would like to do, then you’re losing your individuality to your relationship. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do things that your partner likes doing, but I am saying that you should never stop doing the things that make you happy. The second that we forget to do the things that make us happy, is the second that we forget who we are. Making your partner happy is essential to any relationship, but don’t let yourself forget that your happiness is just as important. After all, you got into your relationship because it made you happy right?

Never forget to be yourself first. I hope that this little post gave some insight to people out there wondering why they feel like they’ve lost their personality to their relationship and how to get it back. Happy Friday to everyone and thanks for stopping by!

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Lessons of Love #4

It’s not what you said but how you said it…

Have you reached that point in your relationship where you and your partner find yourselves telling each other everything that you hate about each other? I know that I’ve certainly been there before and I began to wonder why a person who hates so many things about me would want to be with me. Telling your partner how much you hate it when they do something will do two things. First it will make you resent one another for being so negative and secondly it will start a chain reaction of telling each other all of the things that you hate about them. Plus, whatever it is that you want your partner to stop doing won’t happen because their already upset and likely not listening. This doesn’t mean that you can’t tell each other what you don’t like but it does mean that you have to communicate with each other better.

Let’s say that your partner is disorganized and constantly leaves their clothes on the floor. This frustrates the living guts out of you and you want them to stop leaving the floor a mess. Instead of telling them how much you despise it when they leave their clothes on the floor, it is much more effective to tell them that you would truly appreciate it if they would pick up their clothes. You can say something like, “John, I would really appreciate it if you could put your clothes away. I like having my floor clean and if you did that it would really make me happy.” Just by changing your words around, you avoid insulting your partner, avoid making them resent you and you still communicated your dislike of their actions.

It seems like a small thing now, but in the long run, you will both be much happier. I remember when my girlfriend and I were telling each other how much we hated things about the other feeling so upset all of the time. When we finally started changing the way that we addressed issues with each other it was like we were in a totally different relationship. I never listened to her when she said that she hated something because hearing those words made me angry from the second they were uttered and vice-a-versa. But now when she tells me that she would like it if I would do something for her because it is important to her I listen and try to make her happy.

Choosing the right words to say is a powerful tool in a relationship. If you could get to the point where you no longer tell each other how much you hate things then you will find how little you hate anything anymore. I hope that this advice helps someone out there who feels stuck in their relationship and is starting to doubt whether or not to stay in it. I would love to hear back from you guys on your relationship struggles and achievements. Did you encounter this problem and were you able to fix it? Let me know what you think and thanks for stopping by.

Lessons of Love #3

Why you lost those butterflies in your stomach and how to get those puppies back.

Of all the things that I’ve learned from my relationship with my girlfriend Jessica, no lesson was harder to learn than lesson # 3. Let me explain why it’s probably going to be as difficult for you as it was for me. From a very young age, the majority of us are taught to believe that love is some sort of mystical force that binds two people together forever. Were taught to believe that when we meet our soul mate, that we will know immediately and live happily ever after with them from that day forward. As ridiculous as it may sound to you now, the truth is that most of us (myself included) believe in this myth, even if we don’t realize that we do. However, the fact is that this myth is no truer than Santa Claus or the Tooth fairy is. Recognizing that fact is the first step to understanding real love and the reason why the butterflies likely went missing.

I remember when I first started dating Jessica I would tell everyone how amazing she was, how perfect everything was and how in love we were. I felt so overwhelmed with love that I couldn’t hold back a smile even if I was at a funeral. It was as though all of my senses were amplified and my thoughts were occupied solely with her, making me feel both crazy and more alive than ever before. However, sooner or later, this intense feeling begins to fade and reality returns. All of a sudden the butterflies are gone, your partner no longer seems as perfect as they once did and both of you begin to show your true colors to each other. What happened? Were you mistaken about your feelings? Did you rush into things too quickly? Thousands of questions begin to race through your mind and doubt begins to push its way into your thoughts.

The reason that we hit this wall of doubt after being so sure about one another could only be explained by scientific research. What scientists have discovered is that our brains release a chemical called Oxytocin when we first begin to date a person. This chemical is what produces the effects that make us feel crazy in love and completely overwhelmed with emotion. But once two people have been together for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, they stop producing this chemical all together. The result is that we begin to think clearly again and no longer feel this sensation of butterflies in our stomach. Scientists believe that the reason why we developed this instinctual chemical release in the first place was so that our species would multiply and increase our chances for future survival (aka. Have sex and make babies). While I understand that the idea of some magical binding force may sound so much more romantic then an instinctual chemical release, the reality is that this initial sensation that we all experience is no more than an evolutionary instinct passed down from generation to generation.

Lucky for you and your significant other, you both have a tool more powerful than Oxytocin or any other chemical in the brain, to attain true love. That tool is choice. This is the hard part to comprehend. In order to attain true and lasting love, you and your partner must both CHOOSE to love each other each and every single day. Being in love is not something that just happens on its own, but rather it is something that you must work hard for. Before you start to feel like you did on the day that you found out your parents were Santa Claus, hear me out. Yes, choosing to love someone is a difficult task and sometimes even a pain in the ass, but the reward for doing so is greater than you could ever imagine. The reason why I say that is because after realizing that your significant other chooses to love you every single day, is that you are able to truly appreciate that person and their commitment to you.

As for getting those butterflies back, you first have to talk to your significant other and explain to them how real love works. Discuss what you learned and be patient with each other, this isn’t something that can be done in 20 minutes, trust me. Now if choosing to love each other is something that both of you decide to do, then get ready to experience the real magic. As far as the butterflies are concerned, I recommend that you try doing this. For one whole week, spoil your partner every single day. For my budget friendly couples, don’t worry, you don’t have to break the bank. Things like picking flowers one day, writing a note the next day and/or burning a CD with their favorite songs are just as good as buying them a gift or taking them to a restaurant. Believe me that by the end of the week your significant other is going to be so overwhelmed with love that they will have no choice but to reciprocate that love. Finally, after all of your hard work and patience, you’ll find that those ever so elusive butterflies have returned at last!

 

Lessons of Love #2

Keep things fresh and avoiding routines

Do you ever feel like your relationship is boring? Do you feel like it lost its momentum? Well I wouldn’t be too worried about it because luckily there’s a solution to that problem. The first thing that I do when I see that things are getting boring is identify the routine. Routines, while useful for certain tasks, are probably the worst thing for relationships. Once you fall into a routine, you risk making things boring and stagnant. So I try to identify the routine and make that the first thing that I change. For instance, if you get home from work every day and then eat dinner, shower and go to bed, try to change that up. Instead of doing it every day, take your partner to a restaurant or go on a pic-nick a couple of days out of the week.

One time I fell into a routine of going to the same restaurants over and over. Although we enjoyed going to restaurants, my girlfriend and I eventually got bored of going to the same ones. The joy that we once felt for going out to eat was diminishing. The solution to that problem was making a point of only going to restaurants that we had never been to. It didn’t matter if they were good or bad because the whole point of going was never to be food critics but rather to have fun, and we did. This is only one example of thousands of possible routines that I encounter on a daily basis. However try to change just one at a time. You don’t want to change everything that you do. Try to find things that used to be fun and no longer are, and start changing those.

I promise that every time that you start to change things up, you will notice that you and your partner have more fun. Also, doing new things together gives you something new to talk about. Spending years together with someone could tend to cover all possible topics of conversation. But doing new things will allow you to engage each other with fresh topics. That’s why I say to keep things fresh. Keep in mind that none of us is perfect and we are going to fall into some sort of a routine eventually. The trick is to realize that they can and should be changed. If your partner is the one who fell into the routine then try to talk to them about it in a calm and casual way. Let them understand that you want to change the routine and that you are willing to do things differently too.

I hope this little tip helps someone out there with their routine. If you have been through a routine and overcome it I want to know about it. Please let me know your story and what they outcome was for you after changing your routine.

 

 

Lessons of Love #1

 A relationship always has room for improvement.

About a year or two ago I remember my girlfriend Jessica asked me if I was truly happy with our relationship. I remember thinking then that our relationship was good enough. That was the problem. “Good enough” is just another way of saying tolerable. Neither of us wanted to say it but we were lacking something from our relationship. It lost its momentum somewhere along the way and comfort replaced feelings of passion. We soon realized that we were not satisfied with a relationship that was just “good enough”. We wanted more. We wanted a relationship that was amazing, like it was when we first started dating. That’s when a miracle happened. Someone recommended a book on relationships to Jessica, which she went on to read. When she was finished she begged me to read it. So I opened up the book and started learning about the art of giving and receiving love. That was a turning point for us.

After reading and applying what this book taught us, our relationship improved astronomically. That’s when it hit me. Relationships, like anything else, improve with practice, dedication and hard work. If you never put any time or effort into learning how to improve your relationship and then apply those lessons, you shouldn’t expect a relationship to get any better than it already is. Once those initial butterflies start to disappear, you and your significant other are faced with a choice. Either part ways and look for someone else, or choose to continue loving each other and work on bringing those elusive butterflies back. If you’re thinking of the latter, then I suggest that you start making an effort to learn more about relationships and love. None of us were born as experts in anything, so don’t assume that you can’t learn something new about love or relationships. Personally I recommend that you read a book titled, “The Five Love Languages”. This book has been the equivalent of the Bible for me, as far as relationships are concerned, and I’m certain that it could help you too.

Today my relationship is stronger than it has ever been. This does not mean that we don’t fight, argue or get on each other’s nerves because we certainly do, a lot. But rather it means that both of us make a genuine effort to love each other better each day. I hope this lesson of love helped some of you out there looking for answers.

What about you? Did you read a book, attend a seminar or meet with a counselor that changed your relationship for the better? Tell me more about it, I would love to hear your story of love and what you learned.