The 3 Best Pieces of Relationship Advice I Ever Received
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Before becoming a relationship coach, I worked as a dental hygienist. I loved my job and have many fond memories of my lovely patients and their stories.
There are two patients in particular that I will never forget. They were a very elderly couple that would walk in together with arms linked and warm smiles that touched their eyes. There was a special energy that followed them that I now recognize as love. Real love- the kind that had endured tragedy, joy, and everything life brings.
It was obvious to all that they loved each other deeply and enjoyed their walk through life together, dental visits and all! They radiated love and kindness to each other and out to everyone they encountered.
After ten years of observing and admiring this beautiful couple, I finally asked them if they would share their secret with me for a happy marriage.
Now, I will pass on to you what they shared with me…
Have a Life Together and a Life Apart
A healthy and happy relationship happens when two individuals that know how to make THEMSELVES happy join together.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had this concept all backwards. I had (wrongly) understood that my husband was supposed to make me happy. If I was unhappy, then he was failing at his part in the relationship and he would need to change. I thought myself perfectly justified in these expectations.
I felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me when I heard that in fact, I was 100% responsible for my own happiness. I had to take a good hard look at how I was living my life and what adjustments I needed to make to find my joy.
This meant I had to separate myself from the blurred identity I had with my husband and rediscover who I was, what I was passionate about, and what dreams I had for my future. I had spent so much time and energy focused on OUR hobbies, OUR dreams for the future, and OUR friends, that I had lost sight of myself.
There is also the other extreme, where a couple lives their separate lives well but don’t share a life as a romantic couple. This can be really lonely and painful. In this case, I have found saying “I miss you” is very valuable. It can be scary and very vulnerable, which is why it invites intimacy back into the relationship. As Laura Doyle often says, “you can have intimacy in a relationship ONLY to the degree that you can be vulnerable”.
Related article: How to Bring the Fun Back Into Your Marriage
Love Them Just As They Are
Many of us (myself included) have fallen into the trap of loving the illusion of what our partner could be if only x, y, z while completely missing who they actually are right now.
When I stop focusing on what I don’t like, and instead focus on what I love about him, I feel so much happier. Feeling grateful about all of the wonderful qualities of my husband nourishes the relationship and helps keep our mutual respect, appreciation, and love growing.
Give Them Grace and Remember that You Need Grace Too
It is easy to see what our partner is doing wrong. To see everything they are doing right is humility. To remember that we are not perfect either and don’t always know best is wisdom.
As Laura Doyle says in her book Things Will Get as Good as You Can Stand, “Only God is perfect. For the rest of us, there are apologies”.
Related article: 5 Things I’ve Learned From Apologizing to My Husband
What I found most interesting about the elderly couple’s responses was that they were so different. I asked each of them for their best advice separately as I attended to them privately in my operatory.
The husband threw up his hands laughing and said, “I don’t know, I just got lucky and married a wonderful woman!”
The wife was the one that shared with me the advice you just read. For a long time, I thought it was because she was naturally a little more open and chatty during our appointments and that maybe she had already passed similar advice to her granddaughters.
It was only years later when I heard Laura Doyle say that women hold the power in the relationship that I understood why it had been the wife who shared her advice with me. It was her wisdom that had played a major role in creating her beautiful marriage.
I will be forever grateful to my lovely patients for showing me what is possible in a marriage. I hope they have inspired you too.
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