Happy Friday! This week has been so special. This past Saturday Austin and I celebrated a milestone in our relationship. We celebrated our 'almost engagement' with chai tea lattes & mochaccinos, and a fun afternoon in the most wonderful market/eatery. We're cheesy, I know! As old fashioned as it may seem, we have been waiting to take the next step in our relationship until Austin spoke to my father and received his blessing to move forward. I am twenty-five years old and I waited for my dad's approval to get engaged. I am not embarrassed or ashamed of it. I know not everyone will agree with the route that we have taken. We took it though because it was right for us. It feels like it has taken a lifetime to get to this point, but, we are finally here and we could not be more excited! I am now crossing off each day that passes and pleading for engagement day hints! Austin hasn't broken yet, but, I'll squeeze some details out of him eventually ;)
As sweet as our relationship is, it is not always a smooth road. Over the course of our almost three year relationship we have weathered disappointments, pain, and hurt. Those things are simply a part of life, and a part of a relationship. You cannot have the triumph without the struggle.
Today I want to share a few of the ways that Austin and I continue to cultivate our relationship and lay down a solid foundation for our future marriage.
Communicating clearly and openly is such a huge part of cultivating peace and stability in a relationship. Austin has shown me this through his own example of openness and transparency. Being able to share your heart and mind without restriction builds trust and maintains closeness. I am a work in progress in this area - I am naturally like a vault, my thoughts and feelings are locked securely away. It takes a lot to get me to open up - but that's the point, relationships are works in progress. They [ we ] never reach a point of being finished. Talk to each other, continue to work out the kinks, and continue to learn about each others hopes, dreams, and fears.
Pray With & For Each Other Daily.
Praying together is a habit that Austin and I have laid down in the evenings. Whether it is praise or petition, we get down on our knees every evening and pray together. Austin took a leadership role in establishing this as a habit of our relationship. I am so glad that he did! One of the best ways that you can love each other is to pray for each other. Prayer has power - it has the power to sustain and transform your relationship [ married, engaged, or courting ].
Men and women are different. No surprise there! We feel loved in different ways. As women, we feel loved through tender words, sweet touches, and thoughtful actions. Men equate respect and appreciation with love. Make a man feel respected and he'll lasso the moon for you. This is something that I have to remind myself about frequently. I often have to stop, re-evaluate if my words sound discounting or unappreciative, and take the initiative to ensure that Austin knows how much I appreciate his hard work, his leadership, and his purposeful loving actions toward me. Recognizing these differences and purposing to love each other according to each others unique needs is so important in creating a marriage foundation that is solid.
Have Fun & Laugh With Each Other.
Find something that both of you enjoy and do that often! Life is filled with mundane days, bills to be paid, misunderstandings, stubbornness, and silly arguments. Take time to just be together, have fun, and connect. Going out for a fancy dinner is nice, but, it's not necessary to enjoy each others company or have a little fun and laugh. Laughter is good for the soul - laughing together is good for your relationship. Step outside the box - go bowling, explore the city on foot [ if you're able ], go for a walk, heck, go to an arcade. Austin and I went to an arcade recently to just relax and have a little good clean fun! We laughed, we flirted.. we connected. It may seem silly, but, sometimes it's the seemingly silly things that release you, even for just an hour, from the stresses of life; allowing you to laugh, to relax, and to connect with each other.
Life is messy, friends. Sometimes we simple fail. Just last night I was in the car, riding to church with Austin, and I was anything but loving or open. I was a complete grump. I sat in my seat, staring out of the window, refusing to speak or be open about my day. I am so thankful for Austin's patience when my sinful nature rears its ugly head. He patiently loved me through those moments with understanding, even though he was frustrated. Let's face it, he had every right to be!
We don't have to perfect to have a successful relationship/marriage. We just have to be real, to be patient, to forgive when there is no apology, to seek God, to laugh, and to passionately pursue each other with a heart of unconditional love and commitment.
What ways do you cultivate your relationship [ married or otherwise ]? Any tips that your would share to build a strong foundation for marriage?