It’s funny to me. At some age, you’ll want to start relationships. For me, this was a lot later in my life. So when many have already gone through the many heartbreaks, the young beginner love, I didn’t do this until I was in my late twenties–when most people have already gone through this and learned. I will share some of my life lessons in building relationships.
It’s hard. It’s a lot of work. For me, I had to learn how to love myself before I could love another. It took a whole year in the relationship. I pushed him away. I was very mean to him. Why? Because I didn’t feel like I deserved love. I grew up thinking I would be a spinster. Little did I know this patient man, would teach me to love me and to love others.
I also had to learn how accept his love. He was affectionate. Very puppy dog type. He would say the sweetest things to me, “Good Morning Beautiful.” “I’m so lucky to have you in my life.” “You are so pretty.” As someone who grew up being told, “You’re stupid.” “You suck.” “You aren’t smart enough.” “Go kill yourself.” it was learning how to accept these warm words and accept the sincerity behind it.
If I’m honest, watching him with our God Daughter made me realize the true capacity of love. I have never seen a man whisper the most daringly sweet words in a baby’s ear. A baby mind you, who probably doesn’t understand a word he was saying but had her eyes glued to him the whole time. He would go on to say, “You are so strong. So smart. You can do anything. I believe in you. I’ll love you forever. You will take over the world. I’ll help you.” I bawled right then and there and fell hard in love–with both of them. Again.
It was learning how to communicate and learn each other’s love languages. As you can probably tell, his love language is affirmations and word. He needs to be told he is great. He needs to be told he is strong. He needs to be told he is loved. My love language is actions. I thought by showing him I can do the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, I was showing love. Turns out, I wasn’t meeting his needs. English is not my first language. So we also struggled with basic communication. I have learned to ask for clarity.
It’s funny how going through this can teach you to be aware of others. I once had a girlfriend come and cry to me about how she wanted to leave her husband. He had a stroke, her husband isn’t the man she loved anymore. He is mean. She isn’t attracted to him anymore. She mentioned how she tells him she plans on leaving him and he tells her to go. I told her, he is telling you his worst fear. I don’t know if you see it. But his greatest fear is you leaving him. She goes, I love him so much though. I clean him as he lost all function to his left side. I go, what you see as love, he sees as weakness. He hates that you are caring for him. Can you imagine a man that once had full function of his body, not being able to do the basic things in life or even the things he love? This is communication.
I also reflect upon a call I once had as a volunteer whereby the customer called in asking for help to talk to his partner. He goes, we shout at each other all the time then we leave angrier at each other and nothing gets done. I told him, when we are emotional we aren’t at a position to communicate with each other but actually hurt each other. When you are shouting at each other, it becomes a screaming match of whose louder wins and nothing gets resolved. It’s also the language you use. Instead of playing the blame game, when you both had time to cool down, and for some it might take a while, then you can start to get to the root of the matter. You can start using language like, “when you say xxxxx, it makes me feel….” You have to use a lot of “I feel” language so the other person does not feel personally attacked.
In my relationship, because I grew up in an Asian culture where touching is not allowed, I had to allow for PDAs. My partner is a very affectionate person, who loves hand holding, hugs, etc. I am not. I had to work on this because I love him.
I had to learn forgiveness. We all make mistakes. I had to learn how to forgive him.
I had to learn to accept him for who he is, quirks and all. He has such weird habits that might be deal breakers for some–sometimes I didn’t know if I could too. He still just misses his shirt in the laundry hamper. How? I don’t know–however I am better at arcade basketball than him. Even if he denies it. He is extremely forgetful and is late to everything. I dare say, he once forgot my birthday, mind you he was sick but still no effort was made on his part.
There are too many lessons learned. I might have to make a part two. But these are just some of them.