For the many, many, MANY years I’ve had this blog, my relationships have been a huge aspect of my writing. It just seemed so natural to write about them for many reasons. They were all toxic, and through those experiences, I learned so much about myself, my mental health, and the impact that relationships like that have on your mental health and self-esteem.
So I wrote about emotional abuse, trauma bonding, gaslighting, and codependency. I wanted other people to know that they weren’t alone. Sharing those experiences was a huge part of my journey.
Suddenly I was in this wonderful, happy, healthy relationship for the first time ever and I think I partly wanted to keep that wonderfulness to myself and partly I was like, “Who wants to read about two boring people who spend a lot of time watching tv in their underwear?”
But there is a lot to talk about.
Like how to have a healthy relationship after a toxic one.
Because while it is happy and healthy, it’s not without its struggles and most of those struggles are rooted in my past experiences. Good relationships require work and it’s not work created out of co-dependency and a desperate need to be loved, but a sincere desire to just be a good partner.
In the past, working on my relationships meant convincing myself that my needs were not that important. It meant getting past infidelity. Or it meant forgiving terrible words and insults that had been hurled at me and deciding to get back together after the 100th break-up.
It didn’t mean sharing love languages so that we both know how to best love each other, or working through communication issues because you both want the other to be happy.
I really wanted to share what that looks like for us.
I want to share my relationship goals for this week!
Focus on honoring each other’s love languages. Her love language is physical affection and mine is acts of service, which is a challenge for us. My last relationship was completely devoid of physical affection and I often got snapped at for asking for hugs and kisses. I still haven’t completely got over my aversion to initiating those things. So it’s something that I am always working on.
My love language is acts of service (which I suspect is from a lifetime of sacrificing my needs and wants for other people) but my wife is recovering from back surgery so that one’s a bit difficult to achieve right now. However, my second love language is words of affirmation and Megan has been so awesome about that. Sometimes I need a little extra pep talk and I’m going to communicate that if necessary.
I have some trauma around taking care of people. My ex struggled with substance use and had a lot of health problems because of that. I was often forced into a caregiver role and there was a lot of resentment around those situations. Often she was detoxing and there was a lot of verbal abuse directed toward me.
So helping Megan through the recovery of her back surgery has been triggering at times but those words of affirmation “I appreciate you. You’re doing a great job. Thank you for helping me with this.” Have been incredibly soothing.
If you’re triggered in your relationship – talk about it. Shoving it down just leads to misplaced resentment. I am so grateful that I can communicate when things are hard and that we can focus on how to help/alleviate/deal with those feelings.
Daily time together with no digital distractions.
My word of the year is “Pause” and part of honoring that word is that I’m taking a step back from work (because I work * a lot*). I am always, and I mean pretty much always, attached to my phone or computer. I’m working on silencing my phone and stepping away from the computer to spend quality time together. I’m used to working while we watch a movie or working while we’re eating.
Movie night with popcorn and cuddles.
We’re the kind of people that used to have dates multiple times a week before COVID. Now that we’re home all of the time, it makes it easier for me to get distracted by work. So I’m intentionally planning a stay at home date with no work distractions.
Actively listening during conversations.
Again with stepping back from work and taking myself off autopilot to actively engage in conversation. I am so lucky that I have a job that I love and enjoy but I also need to be aware of the monopoly it has on my life.
Cooking a meal together.
Since Megan is still recovering from back surgery, I’ve been the cook around these parts and ohhhhh am I terrible at it! Do I know how to cook raw chicken? No. Am I capable of multitasking and cooking more than one thing at once? Also no. She’s an amazing cook and I’ve definitely been feeling the loss of it. The other day we cooked together (a first!) and it was actually a lot of fun. Since she’s not supposed to twist, bend, or lift, I make a great assistant and I’d really like to do it again sometime this week.
I’d love for you to make a few goals for your relationship and feel free to share them with me!
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You’re amazing and you’re words are beautiful. I love how hard you work and how much you care about meeting my love language. You mean the world to me and I appreciate everything you have done to help me through this recovery! I love you and I cant wait to cook with you again!!
I love this! I am not in a romantic relationship, but I can definitely see myself putting some of these tips into play with family :)