The one to two year period of a relationship is the time in which you start to get into what I call the meat of it. Any facades that you had in the beginning have dissipated; you’ve seen the gritty and the real, and obviously you like what you’ve seen so far, otherwise there’d be a hole in the wall shaped like you or your beau followed by a settling cloud of dust. You know your other half’s tics, quirks, phobias, and the whole kit and caboodle. This is the point where you don’t know everything, there are always little (and sometimes not so little) surprises, but you feel like you do. This is the meat. This is what everyone was always talking about when they said that relationships are work. When your grandmother was cross stitching pillow cases (or, like mine, gambling in Vegas), and she looked at you over her glasses (or poker chips) and furrowed her brows at your gushing affections for some guy you just met, this is what she was waiting for.
Relationships are work, but the work is one of the best parts. You have to enjoy the ride, because there is no destination. Here are a few tips for relationship maintenance:
Say Thank You: It’s all about the little things. Big gestures are nice, as are the warm and fuzzy declarations of love that happen every now and again, but it’s the little day to day recognitions that keep you from taking advantage of each other. Just remembering to say thank you for the things they do for you is as important as doing things for them. Say thank you for taking the trash out, doing the dishes, making the bed, walking the dog, making dinner, or easing your troubles after a rough day. You don’t have to press your forehead to the floor in a bow of thanks, it can even be in passing, just say it. Verbalizing thanks also reminds you of how much they do for you, it’ll keep you out of the ‘I do everything’ mentality that everyone gets wrapped up in from time to time.
Thoughtful Purchases: You have to buy your one and only a present on their birthday, holidays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day. What about every other day of the year? A bouquet of flowers ‘just because’ is a winning gesture, but there are other things that will make your significant other gush at your sweetness and earn you a few extra brownie points. If they’re an avid reader, pick up a book that you heard about or saw in a book review that you think they might like. Even if they don’t like it, they’ll like the idea of it. A box of sweets from a bakery your co-worker raves about, a trinket from China Town, their favorite appetizer from a local restaurant, or anything you see in your daily travels that you think they might enjoy. If you’re strapped for cash, they will understand, so even mentioning that you saw something they’d love in a store window will remind them how much you care. You don’t have to go over the top every day, that’s overwhelming for both parties, but let them know that you’re thinking of them with small gifts. This little tip works for all types of relationships from romantic, to platonic, to familial.
Time Apart is Time Together: When we hear of good relationships, ones that people are often envious of, the line “they do everything together” is almost always used. This is a fallacy. Healthy relationships are kept by each person having their own time. I like to think that the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is not referring to separate vacations, long business trips, or long distance, but the time couples spend apart on a regular basis. It’s important to share a lot of common interests and hobbies, but sharing everything will certainly wear down the enamel of any relationship. Make time for your friends, for taking walks on your own, classes, or spending time doing something you want to do alone. You should also remember that your mate has friends and activities he or she would like to do alone. Don’t gripe over “girl time” or “guy time,” but relish the time they’re away from you to do your own thing. A glass of wine and a good book go a long way in a bustling city, especially when you’re sharing a matchbox sized apartment with another person (or 5). Every week you should make time for yourself and your friends, and then set up a time to spend together. A walk through Coney Island, an intimate dinner, an indie flick, or renting a movie and ordering Chinese are great things to do together, and you’ll have a lot to talk about because you haven’t spent every waking moment together. Conversations grow stale and quiet in even the best relationships. How can you have anything to talk about if you haven’t been apart to experience new things?
You do maintenance on nearly everything you own: your computer, car, apartment, shoes, clothing, phone, so why would you neglect the most important thing? Your relationship is a living, breathing thing that you and your significant other create, so treat it with a little courtesy and keep it healthy.
Written, with love, by Ashley Teal
Bring home something sweet. or bring your sweet to a treat from Dessert House