In past relationships, I have felt pressured by family, church, and society to rush the ideas of marriage, kids, a house, etc. instead of focusing on the most important part; being a part of a healthy marriage that you actually want to be in. Being young, I gave in to those pressures of having the “perfect” relationship and it drove me mad. But, I did learn a lot.
If I could tell my teenage self something, it would be to have fun and not take love so seriously. This doesn’t mean sleep with everyone or break hearts, but it means that relationships should not make or break for your mental and physical health and well-being! So many young women (and men) put their heart and soul into a relationship that probably has an expiration date, instead of putting that energy into their careers or education. A good partner should support you, not distract you!
I usually felt jealous of other people who were “ahead” of me in that part of my life and yearned to be like them. But, of course, we don’t see the ugly side of their lives on social media, so we should never compare ourselves to someone’s internet persona. One thing that has changed my life has been to LET GO of other people’s expectations of your relationship. Every relationship is unique and can’t fit the exact mold that your grandmother would prefer for you instead of what YOU actually want. (That was just an example. I’m not attacking you, Grandma ❤ )
So, instead of hyper-focusing on the big life achievements in a relationship, focus on little victories and experiences that have brought the two of you closer! Don’t focus on getting a check mark on a box saying, “Got Married”. Life is so much more complex than that! Below, I have listed some amazing “goals” that Darrel and I achieved this Saturday when we headed to Boerne and had lunch with my parents!
1.) We Can Navigate to a Destination Without Fighting:
Google maps and navigating traffic can raise tension in a second! People stress over getting somewhere on time, missing an exit, or getting distracted. It seems so silly when you put it in perspective that you can just turn the car around… I am so guilty of being hyper and anxious when I have to do anything with directions, but over time and communicating, Darrel and I have found a way to navigate in stressful situations without getting upset or having negative feelings towards each other. We listen to each other and calmly ask questions. One thing that helped Darrel find exits easier is giving him the exit number because that’s what he is used to because he is from New Jersey. On the contrary, he gives me the names of the exits because that is what I am used to! So, after having a tiny conversation about our preferences, we don’t miss exits nearly as often as before! Yay!
2.) We Can Entertain Ourselves in Awkward Situations:
Per usual, my parents were a good half hour late to lunch. So, instead of waiting around being bored, being offended by my parents’ lateness, or being awkward around the staff, we just shrugged it off, got a table on the patio of this cute riverside, German restaurant and ordered a couple beers!
We took a ton of selfies, looked at the menu, and talked to each other. Once the conversation was dry because we see each other 24/7 at home, I pulled out my phone and we played Trivia Crack! We both love this game because we are competitive and can work together to crush opponents instead of each other. Plus, we can show off how smart we are!
3.) My Family and My Boyfriend Get Along!
My family is always telling me how much they love Darrel and how they see that he makes me super happy! They don’t just say that they love him, but they show that they love him by including him genuinely, having two-way conversations, and enjoying the time they have together! I know it is rare to have harmony with “in-laws”, but the fact that they both put in the effort to not only tolerate each other, but enjoy each other, is so lovely!
4.) We Can Be Ourselves With Each Other Regardless of Who Is With Us
We are consistently the same personalities in public as we are in person. We are fully comfortable and act like ourselves with each other and that carries over to social situations! We don’t feel the need to alter our personalities or our look depending on the person we are trying to impress today. You can’t see it in this picture, but I felt like showing off my belly ring and wore a midriff to a restaurant with tons of elderly people and I didn’t care if they judged it or not because I felt cute. Guess what, I actually had lots of smiles come my way and positive vibes because I was radiating confidence and happiness because I was being myself! I didn’t wear a crop top for my boyfriend or to offend my parents somehow (they honestly don’t care because they are cool af), I did it for me! #self-love
Darrel wore his adorable Hawaiian shirt to a German restaurant and rocked it!
5.) We Make it a Point to Pray Before Every Meal
I believe in the power of praying together to bring couples together! Even if it’s just praying over a meal. When we first started dating, Darrel was leaning towards an Agnostic viewpoint, but he would still pray silently before a meal and do the Catholic hand movement for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because he just thought that’s what you “should” do. As a strong Christian, I saw this and knew he was lost from his path and needed a little help back on track towards Jesus! I would make it a point to openly talk about my relationship with Jesus and we would have deep conversions about our beliefs, but I never pushed anything on him. I was only ever loving, patient, and listened to his viewpoint. The conversations didn’t lead him to Christ, but him seeing my faith in action caught his attention. He saw how I consulted God about most everything in my life and obeyed without fear when God said to do something.
The main thing that helped open this door for us to have these conversations, was prayer! There is power in prayer! I told him that before meals he needs to include me with his prayers and I was a bit stern about it. Praying out loud was so taboo for him even though he grew up in the church. Baby steps! It was awkward and scary for Darrel, but now he’s comfortable to be open up about many topics in front of God and me! With prayer, you truly get to see a new side to a person and develop spiritually together! Not only has he grown as a Christian, but so have I!
To sum it up, just take the pressure off of other people’s expectations, be your true self, communicate, let God take control, and enjoy the here and now!