It’s pretty wild to think that we’ve been together for 7 years! It still doesn’t feel real, and honestly, it feels just like yesterday we were in college. Time flies.
What’s even crazier is that we’ve been working on building the foundation of our relationship for just as long. I like to think of our relationship like a house. The more time we spend building the foundation, the stronger it will be as we grow.
We started dating in October 2014 and got engaged in December 2019. Throughout that time, our relationship took many different shapes. Ever since we got engaged, it was like a flower blossomed and now we love to water it. It was like the final layer of the onion of my heart was peeled and ever since then, we have had a much deeper connection.
I have awesome parents and an awesome stepdad and wouldn’t change my situation at all, but I am a product of divorce. Therefore, I developed a fear of divorce as I became more of an adult and formed deeper romantic relationships.
A huge motivator for me is to make it to the end of my life with Melissa by my side. In order to make that happen, we both have to be willing to reflect on our relationship, the things that got us to where we are, and how we need to show up for each other going forward.
It’s an ever-changing thing that we have committed to strengthening as we experience life and grow old together. Here are 7 things that we have learned about our relationship in our first 7 years together.
There is communicating and then there is over-communicating.
Over the years, we’ve learned to over-communicate, meaning to truly express what we are feeling when we feel it. Not only what we are feeling, but what we’re expecting. We frequently ask “What are you expecting in this situation?” or “What do you expect the night to look like?” or “Hey, I’m going to the gym, could you have dinner ready when I get home so I can eat before my next meeting?”
With this, we have realized that when expectations are unmet or unspoken, there is a silent resentment that builds up. It may be released with subtle remarks, or you may let your blood boil for a while before you snap. I remember back in the day Melissa used to let her emotions build up and then one day everything she was holding in would come out.
The way we got around it was by over-communicating and creating a safe place to express our feelings. I noticed Melissa’s tendency to hold in her emotions and would make sure regularly to ask her how she felt. She eventually opened up and we became much better at communicating with each other.
We also noticed in some arguments or disagreements our tone of voice would get loud and it became a match to see who was louder. Often when that happens we’d just begin to shut out the other and only try to get our point across. One of us would say something that would take us down a path and we’d be arguing about something as stupid as who left the toilet seat up. (Melissa pees with the seat up if you didn’t know)…just kidding
Ultimately, we realized this and decided to create a space where we can point out where our tones would get elevated in conversations. We simply say “tone” and this is the queue to lower your voice and not let it escalate.
Both being from Italian households, this worked wonders for our communication style!!
Have you ever noticed that you have a tendency to think that other people should think the same way that you think?
We all have different thoughts and feelings and can take the same situation in different ways. So we stopped assuming that the other one knows exactly what we’re thinking. I can’t say we’ve fully stopped, but with practicing over-communicating, we try to verbalize what we are thinking.
By verbalizing our thoughts, we discovered love languages and learned how to speak each other’s language. This is basically the way that you and your partner like to give and receive love. What’s crazy about love languages is they’re usually different for each partner and they can change as we age.
It took me YEARS to realize that Melissa needed words of affirmation to feel loved. Things like “You look beautiful today” or “I appreciate when you do x for me.”
Something that helped me significantly with this was I started to write 1 thing I appreciated about Melissa every day. I noticed my mindset shift from “Ugh, she didn’t empty the dishwasher today…I did it the last 2 times” to “Thanks for making the bed.” I have been doing this (almost) every day for the last 3 years or so and this has been one of the best things to help my mindset around our relationship from focusing on the things she wasn’t doing according to my standards to the small things she was doing to make my life easier.
There are just some bad days.
For some reason, we have this expectation that being in a relationship means that every day is going to be sunshine and rainbows. The reality is that they’re not all good days.
Sometimes we wake up on the wrong side of the bed or have an off day.
We got to a point where we started to understand when one of us was having an off day. I’d say I have more off days than Melissa does. I have historically let things that happen at work come home with me and let it ruin my mood. Melissa has done a great job of telling me I have this habit and knowing when I’m in a bad mood. She just lets me be and doesn’t try to fix me.
I appreciate that she explores how to support me and lets me come to terms on my own. I also make sure to let her know it’s not because of her when I’m having an off day.
Also worth noting: there are just some days where you want your alone time. This is where it’s important for me to reinforce Melissa that I love her and just want some time to myself.
As the history between us grows, we have noticed that our lives have intertwined and the connection between us has gotten deeper. The conversations have gotten deeper. The sex has gotten better. Our ability to express ourselves has gotten better. We tend to feel things at the same time or anticipate each other’s needs at the same time where it feels like we are literally one and the same.
I can only imagine what it will feel like when we create children together and embark on a mission to raise kids together.
Coming from a guy who was afraid of getting married, the vulnerability aspect of being married is so special. There is something truly magical about opening up your heart fully to someone and working together to make each other’s lives better.
The vulnerability I felt on the wedding day was so awesome. It was like I extended my heart to Melissa and she now holds it. Or like my heart is walking around in the world now.
I mean look at my face when she walked down the aisle. Pure joy.
Melissa has made comments that she feels more confident in herself and in our relationship ever since we got married.
There is something fascinating about saying “that’s my wife” instead of “that’s my girlfriend”.
You probably took your girlfriend out on dates when you first started dating. Why’d you stop?
Probably like most of us…comfort.
I can relate in that Melissa and I didn’t date much at the beginning of our relationship. Our first two years together were the end of our college careers. AKA we were broke.
Then I wanted to just live with my friends and Melissa was a trooper. Once I grew up, we started going on dates, and let me tell ya, our relationship got better.
Melissa loved getting ready. I loved her getting ready. She loved seeing me in something other than sweats.
So we made a commitment to going on 1 date per week. It’s blocked off on the calendar and we make sure to get a date in every week.
Now we’re exploring what to do other than go to a restaurant for dinner. Like going to the winery and then mini-golfing after!
We think that the biggest thing that has helped our relationship was the mindset that we’re on one team.
We both want what is best for each other and make each other stronger by being together. The most fun part of our relationship is creating and executing a shared vision.
In our vows, we both mentioned getting to the end of our life on our front porch swing with the grandkids running around the property. Now we get to work together to make it happen.
We get to pick up the slack when one of us is down and encourage each other when one of us is up.
We get a front-row seat to each other’s lives. The coolest part is that we get an outside perspective on our life from someone who truly wants the best for each other.
So if I may, thank you, Melissa. I have thoroughly enjoyed these last 7 years with you. I love your kind heart, your open mind, and your commitment to growth. I’m so thankful to be on this journey with you and I’m loving every minute of executing our shared vision.