Happy Valentine's Day everyone! With today being ALL about love, romance and relationships - I thought I'd key in on a few ways to help you [myself included] make more room for all that love has to offer in our lives.
First off, what do I mean when I say romance? I'm not just referring to physical intimacy, but also communication, relaxation and non-physical intimacy such as quality time with one another. I'm going to be focusing on marriage specifically, but a lot of what's below can apply to many kinds of relationships.
While researching this post, I wanted to find out what factors hurt romance in the first place so we can see them coming and address them before they get out of hand. I'm sure you can come up with a list on your own, but here's just a few things that I found. Money, Family Communication, Time, Housework, Physical Intimacy, Extended Family, and unfortunately the list could go on.
Relationships are complicated, I get that, and I'm not an expert by any means - but if we truly love the people we're with - do we really want to spend our time arguing? The answer is No.
So, not to overly simplify love or anything but here are a few things you can do to circumvent some of the top attackers in your relationships.
1 // Make a Budget
That's sexy - NOT. Yeah, I know, it doesn't sound romantic, but let me explain. Money is one of the top causes for marriages ending today. It's really sad to think that a resource has the potential to push out the love you have for your spouse. With that knowledge alone, you should realize that creating a budget you both agree on is absolutely one of the most romantic things you can do for one another.
I've written a lot about money and the importance of a budget in the past and it's because I'm a firm believer in this simple tool's power to reduce your stress by getting you in control of your money. With a budget, you know where your money is going, you can start making practical concrete plans to achieve the goals you're both after and you can be on the same page.
No more hiding purchases from one another. No more feeling guilty over buying that outfit when you've made room for it in your budget.
Because of a budget, Carl and I now have room for date nights, a car repair fund for when something happens, and a mini happiness fund for adventures and travel together. We're shooting for the same thing and IMO there's nothing more romantic than that.
Learn more about budgeting and getting out of debt HERE.
2 // Ditch the Clutter
Marie Kondo was in fact on to something with her crazy-popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. What's the magic? Getting rid of your junk, your excess and the things that don't bring you joy creates margin in your life - white space.
We've still got a ways to go in our own minimizing journey, but the changes in my level of anxiety have left me almost unrecognizable. I don't spend nearly as much time looking around the house making a mental list of what needs to be cleaned, upgraded, fixed or put away. For the most part, everything is away and it's glorious.
The visual clutter no longer takes precedence over my mental clarity - leaving me able to relax and slow down and focus on what matters to me in that moment. I don't want to give the false illusion that I'm suddenly some master guru of peace and tranquility now, but by simply decluttering our home, I've cut my anxiety levels by more than half!
That reduced anxiety has left our home feeling more peaceful and a more peaceful home makes me calmer and more patient with Carl. I never would have guessed that getting rid of our junk would lead to a better relationship, but it definitely has.
3 // Reduce Your Chores
This next benefit is directly correlated with ditching your clutter and it's simply amazing. By getting rid of your junk, you have less to clean and fix which means you have more quality time to spend with one another.
We used to spend our weekends only taking care of the house, our belongings and our chores. Without fail, I'd spend ALL DAY Saturday cleaning the inside and Carl would spend ALL DAY Saturday taking care of the outside. It was a huge bummer.
Since decluttering, we've completely turned that around. Now, we get all of our chores and cleaning done throughout the week and our weekends are freed up to spend working towards our goals including some time for fun and relaxation with each other and friends.
Reducing the amount of chores we have as well as creating a schedule // routine for our necessary chores and errands has played a key role in our ability to stop and take some time to catch up or snuggle [awwww] and it's those moments that you'll remember over whether or not you got the dishes done.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on How to Make Room for What Matters.
4 // Swap Out Your Snacks
Health & Food play a BIG part in your stress // anxiety. A lot of Americans are stuck in a vicious pattern. They're overworked, which means they're constantly busy. Constantly busy means tons of stress and no time to take care of their loved ones the way they'd like or keep their house in a peaceful state, let alone take care of themselves. This leads to a lot of skipping meals then binge eating junk and or lots of drive-thru and take-out meals to relieve stress and save time.
Hopefully it's glaringly obvious that this kind of lifestyle is SUPER unhealthy for not only YOU but also your relationships. The previous tips have all built on each other, and this one is no different. Once you have more money, less crap and more time, you can afford to spend the time and money it takes to invest in your health and ultimately the health of your relationships.
Starting down this road takes time, but an easy place to start is your snacks. Instead of grabbing for the ice cream, cookies or chips replace them with dark chocolate, blueberries and almonds. These three foods are loaded with nutrients that are not only healthy for you but they also reduce your anxiety levels. Goodbye stress, hello chocolate.
Check out some more healthy swaps HERE.
5 // Set the Mood
Before lighting candles, diffusing lavender eucalyptus essential oils and sprinkling rose petals on the bed - let's start with our mindset. Two changes to my own perspective have eased a lot of potential fights in our marriage.
First - Start with Yourself.
You get to choose how you feel and react to situations. You get to decide if you're going to show love and forgiveness to your spouse or hold a grudge and get back at them. You get to decide if you're going to pursue your spouse each day. You get to decide if you want to be complacent in your relationship or fall more and more in love with them over your lifetime together.
Repeat after me, "It starts with me. I get to choose."
Second - Assume the Best.
I love this. They talk about this in my church a lot and it's such a great reminder to assume that your spouse is not out to get you. Assume that they love you and that they have a reason that makes sense to them for doing the things they do. Assume they aren't going out of their way to ignore you and that maybe there was a miscommunication instead.
By assuming the best in each other, you're extending grace, love, patience and acceptance, which are the best gifts you could ever give & receive!
These steps might not be the most apparent or easy ways to up the romance in your marriage, but I guarantee they will ease your stress // anxiety and lay the groundwork for much stronger relationships in your life.
What are some ways you relieve stress in order to better serve the people in your life? I'd love to hear about them - comment below!
Love & Blessings,
P.S. If you've never been to my Start Here page - now's your chance!