Today marks 100 months since my husband, Nico, and I have officially been together. 100 months ago today a goofy teenager danced around Busch Gardens, a Tampa theme park, and asked me to be his girlfriend in the parking lot. Not exactly the beginning of one of Keats’ romantic poems, but it is the beginning of our story.
Many relationships have seen 100 months come and go unnoticed, but I think that is what makes us special – the little things. As this milestone approached, I found myself thinking more and more about acknowledging the little details that make a healthy relationship. The things that you may think don’t matter once you’ve seen each other naked are the most important.
Below, Nico and I have compiled a list of tidbits of advice to couples out there looking to build a healthy relationship…whether you’re in month 1 or 101.
1. Manners – You’ve probably cursed at your partner more than anyone else, but don’t forget your please’s and thank you’s. When I clean the house, I always get a thank you. When I ask for a favor, I always say please. Just because typical formalities are out the window, doesn’t mean that you should stop showing your partner that you’re grateful for what they do.
2. Smooch - In the beginning, you kissed A LOT right? Well, just because your intimacy has advanced doesn’t mean that kissing is an old trick. I read once that you should make out for 15 minutes minimum everyday. And it works! There’s a special little intimacy to kissing that you should never underestimate.
3. Know how to be apart – Maybe your partner travels for work? Or maybe you have barre class every Thursday? No matter what it is or how long you are apart, it helps. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It also makes your relationship more dynamic. Each partner has their individual stories to share with one another that makes them more interesting.
4. Love notes – Not everyone can write like Nicholas Sparks, but you don’t need to. When Nico and I first started dating, he was shy about his expressing his feelings verbally, but he nailed it in writing. I could hear his voice in everything that he wrote. That made every word so much more genuine and special because I knew they were from his heart. Even just an “I love you” left on a steamy mirror is special.
4. Don’t fight dirty – This is one that I am still working on. I used to keep an inventory of wrongs that Nico had done to use in any battle, and that was just wrong. Nico taught me to fight with the hopes of solving the dispute at hand, rather than winning. Have one goal in mind when arguing: constructive compromise.
5. Partner on the big decisions – Never stop partnering on big decisions – anything that involves money, your time, or your family should be decided together. This is probably one of the elements of our relationship that I am most proud of – we are partners. We make pro + con lists, we play devil’s advocate, and we come to an agreement….together.
Nico Note: It’s ok to disagree on the little stuff. In fact, it’s more interesting when you disagree on the little stuff.
6. Honesty – Duh, right? But I am focusing more on honesty with the little things. I have my unique little quirks that oddly enough not everyone finds as charmingly delightful as I do. For instance, I used to flick Nico’s nose randomly. (Adorable, right?) I didn’t think of it as anything, but he really hated it….and he didn’t tell me for YEARS. When he did tell me, I was shocked but I stopped doing it. This one little change made each flick-free day a little better for him, and it made me rethink my actions. Win- win.
7. Know that you’re weirdos – Dr. Seuss was right, love is mutual weirdness. I tolerate his “Nico Jokes” (code for the literally the driest jokes you will ever hear), and he lets me throw most of the closet on the bed when I am getting ready to go out. We dance in the kitchen when we make dinner. It took us months to get to our first kiss. But all of these things are why we love each other….and how we know how special the other person must be to love us back.
8. Keep surprising each other – Nico will plan an entire date and not tell me a single detail because he wants to surprise me. He will leave little notes around the house to remind me how much he loves me. He sends me on scavenger hunts – one all around the campus of UF – just for fun. He asked my best friends and my mom about my engagement ring before he bought it. He planned 2 separate surprise parties for our engagement. He’s the master of surprise. Each day is different, and that’s exciting!
Nico Note: Dote upon your significant other at random.
9. He’s human - Sure, you hold your partner to a higher caliber than his friends or ‘typical ‘guys, but never forget that he’s still a man. He will make mistakes, he will refuse to install the new garbage disposal for months, he will make a judgmental face at you when you accidentally scare the dog so badly that he falls off the bed, and he will never stop insisting that “This is the Cubs’ year”, but remember that these little habits are what makes them a person – your person.
10. Grow together – Having started dating in our teens, Nico and I are done a lot of growing together already. Certainly, you have heard of plenty of couples who have grown apart, but that is because growing closer requires so much more work. You have to be willing to take risks together, to miss out on things together, and to realize that these supposed sacrifices make you stronger. Choosing each other over anything else shouldn’t be considered a sacrifice. It’s a step towards a stronger relationship. If you grow as people, but the relationship doesn’t grown it won’t last. (I got that from an episode of Reba.)
I hope that you all honestly look at your relationships in the figurative mirror and make sure to appreciate the little things! What would you add to the list? Leave comments + let me know how you got to 100 happy months!