As college students, we have so much going on in our day to day lives that starting and maintain relationships can be hectic. While dealing with class, work, homework, hobbies, and the occasional free time, it feels almost impossible to dedicate time to intimate relationships. Relationships are complicated on their own, let alone while also dealing with the chaos of day-to-day life. So how do we make them work?
On June 1, my grandparents celebrated 62 years of marriage. They met when they were 15 and 17, and haven't looked at another person since. While times have changed and members of our generation and those below us are marrying older and older, the secrets to keeping a relationship happy are still valid, and are ideas that we seek in carrying on our own interactions. Because I so admire the longevity of their love and happiness, I sought out just a few tips provided by my grandparents in hopes of understanding what it takes to make it work.
1. Find commonalities that you can share together on a daily basis.
2. You are two “individuals” vowing to make your lives into one and just as you may have conflict within your own mind about things you do, there are now two of you who will sometimes be in disagreement as to how things work.
3. Learn to wait and listen. You do not always have to be “right.”
4. Be “thick-skinned” and be slow to defend yourself or react. Words spoken cannot be unspoken. Breathe and know that your partner will both challenge (push your buttons) and support you (be your greatest fan).
5. Have a little secret “I-love-you” signal. Say those three little words often, even if you don’t feel just super wonderful when you say them.
6. Write little “love” notes at appropriate times and sometimes ‘just because.’ Be thoughtful.
7. Kiss and wave good-bye when parting and watch as your partner drives away or until out of sight.
8. Remember the common courtesies and simple acts of kindness (a sweet touch, wink, smile of support).
9. Find humor in what could be taken as criticisms. Laugh a lot together.
10. Say a heartfelt “Thank You” for the small and big things.
11. Help each other in the “chores” and ‘projects’ that may not be that pleasant.
12. Be courteous AND cautious upon “re-entry” after being apart in a workday or errand. That is to say, don’t just “blurt out” the relief you feel or expose ill feelings toward events or circumstances that have occurred. It may be that your partner has had even more traumatic or dramatic things occur during the day. In other words, give each other time to “sense” what has happened and seek to “merge” gently to catch up on the occurrences since you were last together. It is very likely that each of you had a ‘hard’ and challenging day or perceive that you have. And chances are that each of you want the same thing from the other: kindness, understanding and maybe a little pampering. Give that to each other. And remember, it is not a competition to see who had the most challenging day or hardest day.