My boyfriend, Jeremiah, and I celebrated our one year (dating) anniversary on November 10th.
To my friends and family who know my dating history, it was a miraculous occasion. I, myself, still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I’ve actually been in a relationship for over a year. No cheating, no “breaks”, not even too many silent treatments. The time flies when you are in a healthy, fun partnership. And it doesn’t hurt that Jeremiah makes himself very easy to love.
The year has been exciting, emotional, challenging, frustrating, enchanting, surprising, and about 45 other adjectives that range from great to gosh-awful. But it has all been worth it. And it has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.
During our anniversary dinner, I asked Jeremiah what a few things were that he learned throughout the year. About himself. About me. About love. About dating relationships, in general. His answers were so random and awesome and honest, I had to share. And add a few realizations of my own. Take it for what it’s worth…
The Man’s Perspective
#1. Black and navy are never okay to wear together.
From the first date, when I walked up in a navy shirt and black shorts, the look on her face said enough. It’s not okay, and it can’t be passed as fashion sense. It will always only pass as color blindness. No matter how close those shades are, she will notice. She will always notice. Even if she doesn’t say anything. Sure, some guys are able to blend the colors and pull it off in the magazines. You are not that guy. Don’t try to be that guy.
#2. Love is at its best when it’s truly a partnership and your goal is to support the other person’s success.
A lot of our interests are really different. And our careers are completely different. Different schedules, and long spans of time apart due to travel, and different ideas about the best way to spend time together can be deal-breakers. Or they can be relationship-makers. It’s all about your perspective. The day you learn that accepting those things and supporting the other person’s needs and wants is the definition of love, your relationship improves. It’s about teamwork. It’s a partnership. And if that means I have to go a month without seeing her because she’s traveling for work, then I won’t let her know I’m sad, I’ll encourage her to work hard and I’ll be patient when it’s hard for her to call. And if that means she has to sit through 5 football games in a row on a Saturday, then it means a lot to me when she does it with a smile and gets ice for me when I strain my back celebrating a touchdown.
#3. Even when she says farting is okay, it’s not okay. It’s never okay.
Go as long as you can without breaking the barrier. When one finally slips, gauge her response. If she says it’s fine, because she’s not one of those “high-maintenance girls”, but you can see her eye twitching as she talks, don’t take the bait. It’s not fine. She is high-maintenance. They are all secretly high-maintenance when it comes to farting. Even if she takes it a step further and farts in front of you, it’s a trap. You’ll think you guys are comfortable enough with each other and your relationship is “there”, but it’s not. Trust me on this one. Because…
#4. A woman always wants to feel like she is being pursued and doesn’t want you to ever think the work is done.
The biggest lesson I learned. Women always want to feel like you still want to impress them. Like you find them valuable enough to go out of your way for them. It doesn’t matter if you have dated 1 month or 1 year or have been married 50 years. And it doesn’t mean you have to smother them in expensive gifts or elaborate dates. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. Women just want to feel like they still make you nervous and that you are thinking about them in unique ways and wanting to make a good impression on them. It can be as simple as opening the car door, or spending time with her family when she’s gone, or not farting in her car. Multiple times. With all of the windows closed. I can’t stress this one enough, guys. I paid the price.
#5. Never underestimate the power of worshipping with your significant other.
When you can freely lift your hands and sing loudly and praise God side-by-side with your partner, you can take on the world together. Worshipping brings you closer, it empowers you as a couple, it creates a heart-environment for you to work through your issues. It levels the playing field and brings you both back to neutral. Making yourself vulnerable makes you so much stronger in her eyes. Worshipping together draws you out of the relationship valleys and sets both of your feet on solid ground. It keeps you accountable. Calling on the King and learning how to make Him the center of your focus is, and will always be, the most important thing in any relationship.
The Woman’s Perspective
#1. Put down your cell phone.
No matter how badly you want to post pictures on Facebook of the flowers he got you, or tweet about the restaurant he brought you to, or instagram a picture of you riding piggy-back, or text your friend about how he’s your soulmate…don’t. Or at least wait until AFTER your date. If you want him to make you feel special, then start by making him feel special and giving him your undivided time and attention. Don’t put your phone on the table while you’re eating. Don’t answer every call and text that comes in while you’re together. Don’t believe you’re an amateur photographer that needs to capture every moment of your time together. I don’t care if you want to make a PicStitch collage later. He will feel more appreciated if you appreciate the time you have together and put the phone away. (I still struggle with this one.)
#2. The worth of a man isn’t in the depth of his pockets, but the depth of his character.
Every girl dreams of the elaborate dates and expensive gifts and fanciful courtship where money is no object. Don’t be that girl. We are in a tight economy and, chances are, you are both young, finding jobs and learning to balance a budget. Don’t step into a relationship with self-centered expectations and find yourself disappointed when they are not met to a T. Do not base your judgement on dollar signs, but rather, character. His loyalty, his discipline, his values, his humility. Respect a valuable man and put stock in your relational wealth by making him feel encouraged, not demeaned. Do yourself a favor and appreciate all of the small things. A humble, appreciative heart leads to an abundant, prosperous life.
#3. If you let him fart once, you’ve opened Pandora’s Box.
After dating for a while, every man is going to test his boundaries. Maybe he lets out a belch at the table. Maybe he hocks a loogie while your walking together. Or maybe he subtly lets out the first relationship fart. My greatest bit of advice: don’t try to be the “laid-back” girl. Because even if you think you don’t care, you have just turned the key to Pandora’s Box. You have given him the unspoken privilege of letting out any bodily function, at any time, in your presence. You will try to continue to be the “cool girlfriend”, but eventually your car will be permanently tainted with the scent of your boyfriend’s bowels and you will regret the day you ever said, “Oh don’t worry about it, everybody farts.” I’m warning you. Guys know no bounds. It’s like meth: Not Even Once.
#4. Power isn’t defined by dominance and control. It’s demonstrated in patience and grace.
I could write a novel if I began explaining the millions of ways I learned this was true. I will keep it short and simple by saying that, if you are an alpha-female, this is the absolute hardest lesson to learn. But the most valuable. I am overwhelmingly grateful to be in a relationship with a man who is all of the things I am not–patient, gentle, gracious, forgiving, slow to anger, humble, calculated and sensitive. He leads me with gentle guidance, calms me when I am in the wrong, and sets the bar for our love by living through example. Jeremiah is the definition of a powerful man.
#5. You will always have A LOT more to learn.
Learning to love another in the ways THEY receive love, rather than the ways that come naturally and easiest to us, is the greatest challenge of our lives. It takes work. Every single day. It takes energy. Every single day. It takes prayer. Every single day. It is not just about passion and romance and emotions, it is about commitment and work and self-sacrifice. You should never stop learning how to truly love…
What are things that you’ve learned along the way in YOUR relationship? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!