10 Pieces of Unsolicited Relationship Advice

image from here

In China, 2015 is the year of the goat…

In my life, however, 2015 seems to be the year of marriage. So far on the list, we will be celebrating the marriage of: my sister-in-law, my husband's cousin, and two friends of mine (who are not marrying one another, by the way!), Given that yesterday was mine and my husband's third wedding anniversary and that we have been "together" for 10.5 years, I have decided to provide some unsolicited advice to those getting married on relationships. The following are ten things I wish I had known about marriage and relationships ten and a half years ago…

1. Don't trust your gut.

Everyone will tell you that "you'll just know" when you meet that one perfect person … or, in the case of those getting married, finding the "perfect" dress.

No. Just no.

In the past I've put a lot of time and thought into this – and nearly everything I do – and I emerged with the realization that there is no perfect person (or dress). Truth be told, there is a person you may end up with or a dress you may buy, but who knows if you will still get along with that person in 10 years or if that dress is timeless? You are in control of your destiny and your choices, not your gut.

2. Speaking of which, let me repeat: YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR DESTINY.

About two years into our relationship, Justin took me aside and said something along the lines of "I simply don't think this [relationship] is going to work." Of course, he shared his reasons and it was a very eye-opening confrontation. Then do you know what I said?

"Do you want it to work?"

It was truly a life-changing moment for me: the realization that no relationship stands a chance if both people don't want for it to work.

While at that particular moment in our lives it seemed like everything and everyone was against us, we made the decision to stick it out through the good and the bad. Our relationship has been all the better because of that. However, if you are with someone who doesn't want to be with you, realize that you can't change them. You can control how you respond to them and whatever they throw at you, but you can't make them be someone they are not.

3. Another repeat: YOU CAN'T CHANGE SOMEONE.

Justin and I faced a number of issues dating. I can't provide examples of how I changed during the past 10.5 years, but my husband went from being protestant to catholic, able to tell me anything … to keeping secrets from me. These were not small changes in my world and they threw me into bouts of depression. Could we work out? I spent the entire relationship believing that whatever *bad* changes Justin went through were directly related to who he was and who he would forever be.

I was wrong, thankfully since in time, he realized the error of (some of) his ways.

I cannot guarantee that your relationship will be the same though. It's possible that the person you are with is being honest and upfront with you about who they are and their life goals. If you aren't listening or taking that seriously, you may be in for a shock.

4. Be honest with yourself and your significant other. ALWAYS.

Do you remember the story of Elas in Frozen? What if she had come forward and told her sister her very scary secret sooner? Would she then have realized that love is the cure-all? Would Anna have trusted Elsa with regards to her love interest?

Granted these sisters are not one another's significant others, but I think it definitely shows how life altering a secret can be when kept from your loved ones. I think the biggest question I have is: If you can't be honest with your loved ones, who can you be honest with?

5. Learn when to speak.

Upon first meeting you probably wouldn't think too much of me. If I don't know you very well, I'm likely to not say much at all. However, after knowing me for a while, there's not a whole lot I don't say. In fact, that's one of my main flaws: I often say too much. I'm too honest and too open with too many people.

While there is nothing wrong with being open and honest with others, when you are in a relationship (any type! whether familial, friendly, or loving) you need to learn what to say to whom when. If you say the wrong thing (for example sharing your significant others' news), you run the risk of hurting feelings or upsetting someone, perhaps unintentionally.

More often than that though, early in my relationship, I found myself getting bad advice from the wrong people – people who didn't care about the relationship, who were jealous and providing negative opinions on the matter.

6. Make sure to speak.

At some point I began to realize that calling other people and talking about my significant other behind his back was a bad idea whether or not I felt I needed advice. This is when I started calling him directly stating my feelings and indicated that I did not want to talk about him behind his back but that that was exactly what I would do if he didn't talk to me. Nine times out of ten, he stopped what he was doing and took the time to console me.

If you try to hold things in or you begin to speak with the wrong people (i.e. not your significant other), you will more than likely find yourself pulling away from the relationship. Talk with one another and be honest always.

7. Recognize when your s/o is having a bad day.

If my first fatal flaw is talking too much to the wrong people at the wrong time about the wrong things, my second fatal flaw would be my inability to empathize. Rather than acknowledging that Justin has had a rough day or is sick or tired, I take the things he says to heart, especially if he's yelling at me … or, the opposite, super quiet. I always assume that the problem is me and something I did rather than a result of circumstances. Since knowing me, Justin has had to acknowledge that this flaw of mine is unchangeable and he has had to learn to work with it, beyond merely stating the obvious, to learning to be patient, calm, and collected no matter what the day brings. Kudos to him.

Either way, you will be much better off if you understand how circumstances are effecting your significant other and what you can do to change them or make them better. I'm sure s/he will appreciate that as well.

8. Realize that you have value.

When your significant other irrationally yells at you, call him/her out on it. Be confident.

While you may recognize and empathize with your love, you don't have to put up with their negative actions towards you. There is never an excuse for them to hit you … and rarely an excuse for them to yell at you.

You are worthy, you are special, and you have value. Always remember that. :)

 If you can't be confident in your relationship, then maybe this person isn't the one for you…

9. Your relationship should encourage you to be a better person.

If your significant other is encouraging you to do things you consider to be wrong, don't do them. You shouldn't have to steal or lie or … anything like that to receive love or be worthy of love. Remember how you have value?

And even if you aren't facing something terrible like the above in your relationship, you should still be challenging and encouraging your significant other into being a better person. While no one is perfect and you can't change the person you are with, it is healthy to grow and develop together. Just be sure that you accept the challenges and encouragement you receive from your significant other as well.

10. Finally, most importantly, realize that you are the only one who can make yourself happy.

Don't rely on anyone else to do that for you. You are in complete control of how you handle and respond to each and every situation.

So what do you think? is there any vital piece of relationship advice I missed? What advice would you share with a newly engaged couple?

* Blog topic taken from 30 Days of Lists

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