OPEN UP: How To Have A Healthy Relationship, From The Experienced

Good morning all, and happy Monday! I’m sitting here in Ventura, with coffee in hand, on a mini vacation with Marco. We decided to make things fun while we we’re here visiting and are staying in a family members house who is on vacation. Place to ourselves + jacuzzi = fun times.

We’re dating each other, just like you’ll see my uncle recommend in this post!

I’m coming to you all to share the interview that I had with my aunt and uncle last week. They sat down with me to share what it’s taken for them to have a healthy 37 years so far.

The last post was from Marco and I, which was great (and so fun to do!!)…but since we’ve only been married under two years, I wanted to hear from and share the more experienced folks as well.

I was going to interview multiple family members, but felt like Dennis & Shelly covered so much that we got most of the golden nuggets in one interview. So, here we go, from the mouths of my sweet auntie Shelly & uncle Dennis!

Open Up Series

What It’s Taken for 37 Healthy Years


Shelly’s Perspective

Trust

Having trust takes away a lot of the worry and stress that comes with relationships, and creates a safe place for two people to exist together for a lifetime.

Same Faith

To get through any relationship with commitment takes an equal mindset of something; you each need a higher power to look to so that you don’t rely on each other for strength.

Communication

You can’t resolve a conflict from beginning to end without healthy communication.

When I learned to communicate, I simultaneously learned to let go of control.

I experienced a struggle in communication/wanting control for 20 years of my relationship, and it made it very difficult. Now, instead of wanting to “be right,” I care more about the end goal being the relationship – coming to an agreement and seeing healing between two people.

Sense of Humor

If you don’t have a sense of humor hard things get way too serious. Humor brings joy. There’s a difference in life between joy and happiness. Joy is an unexpected, appreciated, lightening up of things. THAT is what humor brings.

Affection

Daily acts of non-sexual affection (hug, kiss, hand holding) show that you appreciate the other person.

When Dennis and I are hanging out, watching TV, and Dennis grabs my hand, I am reminded in that moment “he loves me.” It feels good, and I know that I’m worth something to him; I appreciate that he would put that effort forward.

Release of Control

Control does nothing but create problems, so you have to learn to let it go.

When you’re raised with everything out of control, like I was, it’s easy to want to create an environment of total control because you want things to feel totally safe.

For me, finally having the opportunity for control (by having my own family) was HUGE. BUT, as I allowed this control to seep out into my world I learned that total control, especially in a relationship, isn’t possible (or good).

Part of sharing your life with someone is trusting them enough to give the control over sometimes.

A part of this is compromise, but I have also found that the more you release control and respect the other persons desires, the more you will find your partner (who is also working with you) will give control back to you.

Dennis’ Perspective

Marriage = Hard Work

Marriage takes planning, effort, and thoughtfulness. No one told me that marriage was hard work, but it is. YOU have to make it happen, or it won’t. An example of this work is to continuing dating each other; sometimes Shelly is my wife, sometimes she’s my girlfriend. This keeps things fun.

Marriage should be a verb because it requires consistent action.

Conflict is Normal

There’s going to be differences of opinion in a relationship, and there’s even going to be anger about things. We’re all human.

When we recognize that conflict is a normal part of a healthy relationship, it won’t rock the relationship when it comes up. We won’t feel like we have to quit. We’ll know were dealing with something that can be worked through. (This is so true! – P)

Independence

Value the independence of the other person.

I look at my wife as an individual. Therefore, if she has a different opinion about something, it’s OKAY! If she wants to go somewhere that I don’t necessarily want to go, that’s OKAY too!

Even though you’re married, you’re still individuals and have the freedom to make your own choices.

Related: Marco and I talked about “support” and “freedom,” which to us, feels the same as independence. Encourage one another as individuals. 

She > I

This is more of a Godly thing where Grace really comes in… Without God, we’re often most concerned with ourselves. When I started thinking about Shelly first, I felt more ease. I began to listen more, and felt more connection between us.

If both people feel the same way and you can work to out-serve one another, even better. For me, it’s important for me to treat Shelly AS IF she is more important than myself.

Foundation

In a marriage, there has to be GLUE (philosophy, faith); SOMETHING that is the solid foundation, which won’t let the relationship crack. Something that you both agree on, and can always rely on.

You will have many differences, but if you have the same foundation, those difference won’t make/break the relationship.

Solid Communication

There must be good communication skills practiced, consistently, especially listening and understanding one another. Not everyone has this – it’s unique, and makes a huge difference.

You can have a whole difference of opinion that doesn’t turn into a conflict with good communication.

Talk about things before they happen so that things don’t just HAPPEN to you. Rather, when things come up you’ve already talked about them, you’re both aware of what’s going on, and you’re not surprised. This builds trust.


I hope you all enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I love my auntie and uncle dearly, and had so much fun doing this interview with them. They said that it was fun to sit down and hear each others perspectives.

After 37 years, they’re still learning about each other.

That’s the goal, right? To always be curious about your significant other, to stay interested, and to always be learning.

Love, Paige
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