Three Things I've Learned in Three Years

Last year, I wrote about five things that I'd learned from being in a relationship for two years. As today is our three year anniversary, I asked myself the question again. Certainly, to those of you married and celebrating anniversaries into the double digits, this post may not be as revolutionary as it is to those of us who are still testing the metaphorical water, but nevertheless, I feel it is right to spend time in reflection about the things that are important to us. Below are 3 things that I've taken away from our relationship in this past year.

1: Busyness is Not an Excuse to be Absent. 

One lesson I learned the hard way this past fall was the effect that busyness can have upon a relationship. As I wrapped up my most difficult classes (including a thesis and several other courses) I routinely found myself becoming absent to my other responsibilities and people around me. While at the time, it seemed as if everything was just "too much" to handle, looking back, I can see that I could have done a much better job of maintaining my other relationships. I realized shortly after the fact that I was using my busyness as an excuse to focus on myself. Not only does this damage the face to face contact that you do have during this period, but more significantly, it makes the statement that "I will be there for you until the going gets tough for me." This is obviously not the message that I want to be sending to anyone, especially the ones nearest me.  Going forward from there, I have made a conscious effort to pay attention during times of stress to others around me. The lesson I took away was that when you are busy, stressed, or otherwise, it is ok to be focused on what you are doing, but when you are done working for the day, you need to be focused on those around you, instead of on yourself.

2: Love is More Than Feeling. 

That point probably sounded strange. Allow me to clarify. I'm not saying that love isn't based on feeling. The first steps of any relationship are all about feeling, all about emotion. As you go forward, getting to know the other person, those feelings of emotion may change. Not in a negative way, but in a more solidified way. As you grow together, and learn more about your significant other, you will begin to understand more than your emotional attraction to them. You will recognize the things about that person that makes them unique, special, and extraordinary. Understanding more about the love you have for another person doesn't change your emotions. In fact, those emotions will most likely become stronger! If you asked me today, what do you like about Bri? I would be able to say more than "She's pretty," "She's funny," or "She's smart." While those things are certainly (totally) true, I would respond by saying "She's dependable, trustworthy, supportive, caring, and my best friend." There is no way for me to know those things without seeing them over a longer period of time. As I get to know her better, I will learn new things to say, new things that I admire about her, and I will love her more.

3: Learning is an Integral Part of Any Relationship. 

This plays right along with my previous point, and should be fairly obvious, but I will say it anyway. Learning more about your significant other is one of the greatest keys to a healthy relationship. There is no limit to how much you can learn about someone else. The plain fact is that no matter how much you learn about someone, they will be ever growing, ever changing, and you will always have more to learn. Remember your mom asking how your day was when you came back from school? Remember telling her about which friends you talked to, what you did at recess? Notice that the answer changed each day that she asked you. The same is true in a relationship. Ask! Pick up this book! Never stop learning, never stop asking, and never stop growing alongside one another.

Thanks for reading!