Someone once told me love is the most powerful force in the universe. The power of love can unify, heal, uplift, and bring us to new heights. But, just like the universe, love can also be very complex. Love is the gateway to vulnerability. It's us completely letting someone into our insecurities, traumas, and deepest secrets. Love is kind. It's being gentle and compassionate to ourselves and others even when we don't fully understand. Love is forgiving. It's using pain as an opportunity for growth and strength rather than an excuse to stay angry. Above all else, love is genderless and colorless.
Love comes in many definitions, but I think we all can agree that love is a daily practice that takes work. I always wondered why the idea of "work" always seemed to have a negative connotation for most, especially when work in partnership can be the key to us being the best version of ourselves. I wanted to explore this idea further, of love and work and love being the kind of work you enjoy. I had the pleasure of talking to a few couples about their idea of work, growth, and the hard lessons they've learned in love.
Brandie & Her Partner On How They Define Work In Their Relationship:
Courtesy of Brandie & her partner
"Our definition of work in a relationship is growing through life together. The good times are good but I want to know that I have someone solid when things are rough, when they're ugly, when my hair's a mess, when I'm depressed when I'm angry when I'm uncomfortable. Through all seasons and in all ways. A relationship will never be all sunshine.
"It takes rain to grow flowers, it takes dirt to nurture them too. Take care of your relationship the way the earth takes care of a flower, and by no means forget about the sunshine."
"We measure growth by our communication. We can talk to each other about anything. Things that could make a couple blush, we enjoy sharing. We talk when we're angry, we talk when we're sad, we talk when we're happy. We respect each other's space as well. These are things we didn't always do, when we look back it's a feeling of rejoicing to see how far we've come. We understand that to grow, change must be willing to take place, so if ever you're feeling stuck, we know a growth spurt is near our relationship. We welcome it with open arms."
Shay & Jeremiah On Putting Work Into Their Relationship To Keep It Healthy:
Courtesy of Jeremiah & Shay
"We understood the value of proactive therapy. We started going to financial counseling, even before we got engaged. We had a vision of the life we wanted in the future, and know we needed to start before he proposed. Then, after getting engaged, we began faith-based premarital counseling. That was a game-changer! We highly recommend that couples who are dating on a serious level, do some type of therapy before getting engaged. It teaches you so much about not only your partner but about yourself.
"'Sometimes you just won't have the answer. Ask yourself, 'Can you live with it?' If so, then let it go.' This mantra has always saved us from going down a rabbit hole during disagreements. There have been times when one of us was frustrated about something, but deep down it was because we were triggered by something else. Becoming one with your partner doesn't make your individual experiences and past traumas just disappear. So we need to remember that it is natural to bump heads with the person you love."
Andrea & Donnie On The Biggest Lessons Learned Throughout 24 Years Of Marriage:
Photo Credit: Ebes OlumeseCourtesy of Andrea & Donnie
"My greatest lesson is not moving through life, or this marriage feeling like I'm superwoman! I have a life partner, where I have learned to let down my guard and not be the tough girl. And, trust me, it took some years to get here. But I allow myself to be vulnerable, even in marriage, letting my husband be the man he was raised to be, as well as the provider and protector of his kingdom!
"The best advice I have to offer is to first of all, not look for happiness in anyone outside of yourself. Once you know how to make yourself happy, and love everything about yourself, then you'll have no problem teaching others how to love you, because there's a difference in how people love you, and how you allow them to love you!"
Tiffany & Kevin On How The Work In Their Partnership Has Made Them Better:
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Austin DavisCourtesy of Tiffany & Kevin
"If your partner doesn't make you better, they ain't the one! I'm naturally very introverted and throughout the years, my husband has inspired me to take more risks and follow my creative path. We talk all the time about endlessly leaving room for growth. He knows that if he decides next week, he completely wants to change directions, I'll be like, 'OK...what's the plan?!' And vice versa.
"The freedom and support to be who we are, make us the best versions of ourselves if that makes sense."
"We both learned that love does not have a universal definition. We think each relationship you have may exhibit love in different ways. In realizing that, it freed us from having to live up to anything we'd seen before, but instead, build our unique definition of love."
Featured image by Elizabeth Austin Davis, c/o Tiffany & Kevin