Recently Ahmed and I celebrated our five year anniversary, which made me think about our relationship over the years. We’ve faced a several obstacles, but overcoming them has strengthened us a couple. If someone had told me even six years ago that I would be writing a blog giving relationship advice, I would have told you that you’ve lost your mind. Before I started dating Ahmed, I knew nothing about healthy relationships or true love. I’m still not an expert. We’re not married, and we don’t have children, but I’ve gained a lot of insight into what makes a relationship work.
1) Be on the same page (not about everything, but about the important things)
One of the reasons why Ahmed and I work well together is our similar values. I remember meeting his family for the first time after we had only been dating for a few weeks, and seeing how much love and respect he had for them. Family is everything to me, and it’s everything to Ahmed as well. From the very beginning of our relationship, we talked about our morals, goals and values. We were on the same page about the most important aspects of life, and that set a strong foundation for the rest of our relationship. Neither Ahmed or I are materialistic or obsessed with wanting more than we need. We live a very simple life where we make dinner at home every night and sit together and talk about our day. That’s all we want in life, and I’m so glad we’re on the same page about this. If your morals and values aren’t aligned with your partner’s, it may not be a problem early in the relationship, but it could have problematic long-term effects.
2) Don’t give up when things get challenging
When Ahmed moved to Egypt, I thought that doing long-distance would be impossible. In fact, I almost gave up several times. It was so difficult being on the other side of the world from him for eight months. With the time difference and our schedules, it seemed unimaginable to maintain our relationship. However, Ahmed never thought about giving up. Every time I told him how much I was struggling and shared my fears of our relationship failing, he would reassure me. It seemed so easy to just give up, but Ahmed knew that’s not what I truly wanted. Overcoming that obstacle strengthened our relationship in so many ways. I’m so glad I didn’t throw in the towel and walk away because now we live together, and that difficult time period is just a short chapter in our amazing love story. Powering through hard situations will give you the confidence that your relationship can overcome anything. It may seem easier to give up when obstacles are thrown into your path, but it is more rewarding to go through hardships together and come out stronger.
Communication is the most common answer when people ask about the most important aspect in a relationship. Communication is so much more than just texting or talking every day. If you don’t communicate your feelings, goals, or aspirations with your partner, things can go south fast. For example, you could be dating someone for 5 years, but you’ve never communicated how you feel about marriage. The other person could be waiting for you to propose, but you’ve never told them that you don’t believe marriage is necessary. It is so important to communicate how you feel about topics like marriage and children early in a relationship to avoid heartbreak. Also, allowing anger or sadness to build up over time without telling your partner can be detrimental for both of you. Be open and honest about everything with your significant other!
4) Prioritize having “me” time
Having different interests and hobbies isn’t a bad thing! Ahmed plays soccer, and I go to a women’s only gym, so we don’t work out together, but we do live together. Spending time away from each other once a week gives you more to talk about than if you were together 24/7. It’s important to build a life together where you compliment each other, and you have your own unique set of interests and strengths.
5) Avoid making assumptions
Assuming things can cause unnecessary arguments in relationships. When Ahmed and I were living on the other side of the world from each other and he didn’t respond to my text right away, I often assumed he was either mad at me, or dead. Yes you heard that right, dead. This is something I really need to work on because I’m quick to assume things based on Ahmed’s mood, or even his facial expressions! If he’s quieter then usual, I assume he’s mad at me, and I don’t take other things into consideration like maybe he’s just tired or he’s had a bad day at work. When you stop assuming things, your relationship will be a lot healthier.
That’s all the relationship advice this grandma has for today. Hopefully I’ll get to grow old with Ahmed and have some new and improved advice when I’m a real senior.