I’m no relationship expert and the one that I’ve been in over the past 8 years is not perfect
…so I’m not writing this post to give you advice or making claims that anything I’m about to share will change your life or your current relationship for the better. BUT I have been very happily married for nearly 7 years and I wanted to share why because it may shed some light that someone somewhere finds comforting or helpful.
This is far more intimate content than I normally share, but every time my husband is on my YouTube channel, we get tons of comments about how we are “#couplegoals” and I want to break that stigma. In the same breath, I also hope to break the stigma that “marriage is hard work”. Every relationship takes work, of course. No two people are perfectly in sync at all times. Relationships require compromise and conscientious effort. But I believe that the great ones, the ones that are meant to be that forever kinda thing, shouldn’t feel hard. Life with my husband was made infinitely easier than it had ever been for me before we met. The laughter, the love, the support he brought to my life made it a whole lot easier and a hell of a lot more fun. He was the ear that listened, the shoulder that I leaned on, the voice that calmed my anxious head, the hands that protected my emotional heart.
He is all this and so much more and the second he entered my life, it became exponentially easier to live.
From the moment we met, it felt easy. It was a no-fucking-brainer that, if he’d have me, this was the person I wanted to do life with. To be honest, if he was the only person I ever interacted with or spoke to again, I’d be pretty damn happy about it. (Not including our mini-me, of course!) He is my absolute favorite and forever with him doesn’t feel like long enough. It’s that simple. When I’ve tried to force something to work or to happen in any area of myself, it doesn’t. It never has. Because it just wasn’t meant to be. That’s how my husband and I have always viewed our relationship.
Below are some boxes that our relationship ticks, in no particular order of significance. These 10 boxes are the reason I believe our relationship thrives. Marriage is not something you should be “surviving”. That’s why divorce papers exist. It’s something that should make you better and happier. Something that helps you thrive in life as individuals and ultimately, together. My husband and I have always said, if we’re not enjoying ourselves and ticking those boxes and feeling happier and better because of our relationship, then what’s the point?
#1: FIND YOUR BEST FRIEND
If your spouse isn’t your best friend, then just stop. Like today. Because you deserve more! If they’re not your BESTEST FRIEND in the whole wide world, can it really be the relationship that allows you to get the most you could be getting out of life? Common interests, shared senses of humor, same ideas of fun, values, beliefs… those are all really important aspects of everyone’s life story that you should probably be on a similar page of for the most part, if you’re going to enjoy it living it together! I know I said “in no particular order” earlier but I lied. THIS IS NUMBER ONE! A lifetime together is a long ass time and life inevitably happens along the way. People grow, change and evolve over time, as do life circumstances, and if you are not intentionally growing together and prioritizing that, you will grow apart.
#2: FIND YOUR OTHER HALF
Balance is key in my relationship with my husband. While we have tons of things in common that allow us to thrive and enjoy a shared life, we also have great differences in our personalities that create a vital balance for both of our well beings. We really are yin and yang to each other in a lot of ways and those differences create a dynamic that allows us to be the best version of ourselves.
#3: FIND THE MOST ATTRACTIVE PERSON
Now, I don’t strictly mean this in the most superficial sense. Though, I won’t lie to you, physical attraction is obviously important! I just mean that your spouse should be the most attractive person TO YOU! Their laugh, their strength, their vulnerability, the way they speak, the way they listen, the way they look at you, the way they make you feel when something good happens, the way they make you feel when something bad happens. You know what I mean. Someone can be very good looking and repulsive to you. Someone can be not the best looking and have you head over heels. My husband was the best looking and most freaking charming human I’d ever met or dreamt up so you know… I locked that shit down! What I found and still find most attractive about him is that he’s more confident in his skin than anyone I’ve ever met or known but also the most grounded. I remember being quite awestruck in the first five minutes of being in his presence because he was all of these amazing things rolled into one and he knew it but at the same time, the way he treated every other person around him was like he didn’t know it at all. I marvel at little things that make him the most attractive person on the planet to me every day and I still discover new things all the time, 8 years in.
#4: TRUST EACH OTHER & YOURSELF
This is a big one. And it takes times. We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all got scars. We’ve all got insecurities. You are not going to trust someone completely from day one and if you do, I urge you to rethink that. Some people are assholes, some people aren’t assholes but are human and make asshole-like mistakes and some people are completely trustworthy but worthy still means they have to earn it. Everyone is different and every circumstance and relationship is different so I can’t judge other people’s choices in their relationships but I know my own and I know my husband’s. Know your expectations, express your expectations, be confident in sticking to those expectations and then you gotta let go and let God. If you’re in a relationship where you feel the need to sneak around looking at your partner’s phone, searching their car or deep diving into their internet history, I will say, it’s probably a good time to ask yourself if you’re really happy. That kind of behavior and the anxiety that it brings is enough to drive anyone crazy. Trust your partner and always trust your gut.
#5: SUPPORT EACH OTHER
You and your partner should be each others’ biggest cheerleaders and each others’ strongest grounding forces. You’re there for each other to keep your feet on the ground and head in the sky. Support each other through the highs, lows and in betweens. Push each other to achieve your dreams and feel fulfilled as individuals and be the rock for each other to lean on and come home to with the good and bad.
#6: TALK TO EACH OTHER
Talk, talk, talk. About the mundane stuff, the exciting stuff, the difficult stuff, all of it. You can’t expect anyone to read your mind, even your soulmate. You have to communicate and talk to each other. I’d elaborate but it’s pretty obvious what I mean and why this is crucial. Doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do but it has to be done.
#7: LISTEN TO EACH OTHER
Talking is great and important because without talking, there’d be no listening. With that said, there can be a whole lot of talking without any listening going on. You have to hear your partner and make sure they are hearing you. I’ll be honest, this is one that I’m not always the best at because I get so in my own head a lot of the time. I don’t ever intend to be dismissive but I’m not always listening the way that I should be when my husband speaks. Whether it’s little things or big things, you’ve gotta listen to it all because it may seem small or insignificant to you but could be really important to your partner so… tune in!!!
#8: LAUGH EVERY DAY
When my husband and I first got together, we’d ask any couple we’d meet who’d been together for decades what they’re secret was to a long lasting relationship and they’d always say, LAUGH! Life is a rollercoaster and it can be hard and it can be boring so no matter what is going on, my husband and I laugh together every single day. He’s a pretty funny guy so that definitely helps bring the laughter but even when we’re butting heads, one of us usually cracks a joke or breaks into a smile and before we know it, we’re laughing and realize how insignificant whatever we were butting heads about was and move on.
#9: SEE AND DO NEW THINGS TOGETHER
This is a good one to spice things up, find a sense of wonderment together and create memories and experiences that are just yours. My husband and I met when we were pretty young so there was loads that we hadn’t done yet as individuals but this applies to any couple who finds each other at any age. When someone moves into your place, they might live there and call it “home” but it will always be your place. When you go on a trip somewhere your partner has been before, you’ll do and see new things in that destination but it will always be the time they went somewhere with you vs the time they went somewhere without you. Doing and seeing brand new things together that neither of you have experienced before allows you to have memories and experiences that are just yours and that’s special. It unifies you two and solidifies your chapter in life together as something unlike any other time before you met.
#10: KNOW THAT YOU’RE STUCK TOGETHER
Years ago, a friend who was getting married asked me what marital advice I had. I couldn’t think of anything more impactful to say than, “you’re stuck together”. For better or worse, it’s you two together above all else. When you fight, you’re crawling in the same bed every night so best not to do it with your tail between your legs or a cold shoulder. When you’re experiencing exciting things and achieving your dreams, those are life highlights you’ll hold onto forever so best to experience and celebrate them together. If you want each other to be woven into the fabric of your existences in this life forever then you best weave each other in, view your marriage as forever and do what you two need to do whenever you need to do it to make sure it happens. That’s not to say, you should stay with someone that hurts you or makes you miserable. If that was the case, your partner would clearly not be upholding their end of the bargain and you deserve better so go on and find it! BUT if you both want it and mean it, then it should bring you both joy to know that you’re stuck together. That makes it pretty easy to put the work in when you need to!
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.