Love Comes Naturally, Relationships Take Work: But Don't Be Discouraged
"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty..."--Theodore Roosevelt

I have been in a relationship--a very deep and passionate one at that--for almost exactly a year now. This, being my first relationship, is one that brings much joy and happiness into my life. I spent years and years wondering when I would meet someone that would light up my world and turn every thought I had into a rainbow that lit up the sky. And it wasn't until the summer before my Freshman year of college, until I met Hannah, that I really began to feel what it was like to fall for someone. It was a slow burn, falling in love with her. The rest of the summer came and went with just a few conversations between us. Then move in day rolled around, and we immediately started talking like we were best friends. There was no awkwardness, no need for me to hide my weirdness. Just her and me, together, bonding over things I didn't even think anyone else but me liked. We slowly became best friends, then had crushes on each other (albeit, neither of us knew we had crushes on each other until later on). Then November came sweeping in and the fire in my heart, the passion and love for Hannah, could've warmed the crisp earth air. And just like that, I was in love. And to my great happiness, so was she. In the middle of the night on November 13, we became girlfriends, officially.

Now, regarding my title, being in love with Hannah came extremely naturally. So naturally that it was sometimes scary. Scary to be so in love with someone, and fear that they might leave. And this is where my quote rolls in. Relationships are work, and anyone who tells you that a good relationship shouldn't require work has probably never been in a successful one. There are days where we fight, where jealousy or insecurity comes creeping in. Where we say things we may regret and then cry to each other after its over, saying how sorry we are. These fights and arguments scared us at first. We wondered if we weren't good for each other, if us fighting was a bad thing. But then we both sat down and decided: this relationship will take work. And not the kind of work that makes you want to bang your head against the wall, but teamwork. We both made a mental list of things we can do to work on our relationship. Because both Hannah and I want this relationship more than anything in the world. "And nothing is worth having or doing without effort..."

So we made a list and these things are what we found to be most helpful...

1. TALK IT OUT- Please don't leave your thoughts and feelings festering inside you. Because they will find a way to come out, and often times if you've held them in, they are even meaner and nastier than you intend them to be. Don't hide how you are feeling. Tell your partner what is bothering you immediately, or as soon as possible.

2. LISTEN- I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to your partner. And not just listen with your ears, but also listen with your heart and brain. Listen to where they are coming from. Understand their insecurities and don't get mad at your partner for having them (because we all do). Step into their shoes and don't judge them for their thoughts and feelings. Because you would want them to do the same.

3. CONSENSUS- Every talk has to come to a conclusion. Don't leave it hanging in the air because then it will just lead to an awful fight. Try to come to a consensus. Listen to each other's sides of the stories. Sometimes there might have been a misinterpretation, or someone may have overreacted. It's always important, even if there isn't a consensus, to let your partner know that you understand where they are coming from.

4. COMPLIMENT- Everyday (or once a week, or whenever you have the chance), write what you find special or endearing about your partner on a post it note, or anywhere else you might want to. Sometimes we don't realize how much our partner wants to be appreciated, and when they know that they are, things just kind of fall into place.

5. WEEKLY SURPRISES- (I don't mean presents, because who has the money to do that anyways?) What I mean is, once a week each of you write down something you want to do with your partner or what you want your partner to do for you. This could be as simple as a back massage (my favorite), a surprise kiss, a flower from the farmers market, a poem you wrote for them, and the list goes on. Anything and everything is on the table and each of you get what you want without the other falling to the wayside.

Remember: Relationships are work. But they are so rewarding. Don't forget that when you hit a slump in your relationship. If you both truly want it to work, all you have to do is just put in a little more effort.

xoxo-Grace

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