Imagine an elderly couple, hand in hand, strolling through your local farmer’s market. The sweetness, the gentleness, the blissfulness inevitably prompt thoughts of, I want that someday.
Daydreams of finding love, falling in love and remaining in love often consume us. There’s neither a crystal ball nor a diary detailing a relationship’s fate, which often creates fear and uncertainty. Will a first date lead to a second? How long will it be before my boyfriend proposes? Will marriage reflect the fantasies of my childhood storybooks?
An eagerness to dream about a relationship’s future— or similarly, to dwell in its past— steers us from enjoying the moment. The kind of timeless moment you witnessed the elderly couple having as they strolled through the market. Here are five encouragements for staying present in your relationship, whether you’re in a flirty fling or a years-long courtship.
FIVE WAYS TO REMAIN PRESENT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
PUT THE PLAN AWAY
Begin by tossing out that checklist you’ve been keeping. The one detailing the right kind of partner, the appropriate wedding date, the career you’ll build, the number of children you’ll have and the garden home you’ll live in. While it’s important to discuss the future, expect that priorities will change, plans will switch and promises here and there will inevitably be broken. The strength of a relationship is often tested in how the unexpected is handled. You will find it easier to accept the journey by letting go of the plan.
FORGET THE FAIRY TALE
Sure, we all want a chance at our own “happily ever after.” But the best relationships are not rooted in magic carpet rides or magnificent mansions. Rather, they are rooted in chaos and in unexpected crossroads; somewhere between the bliss and the burdens. Expect your fairy tale to include grocery runs, dishes and dirty laundry. Expect it to endure heartache, hazards and health risks. Forget the fantasies and embrace reality— because that is truly where happily ever afters flourish most.
Celebrations promote happiness and acknowledge progress within a relationship. Together, celebrate everything from a productive day, to a career jump, to a homecooked meal. Even the smallest feats should be recognized and toasted to. Celebrating often encourages you and your partner to both capture and appreciate life day-to-day.
Forgiveness is on most of our to-do lists, but often proves to be the hardest action to follow through on. Settling comfortably into resentment inevitably leads you to dwell in the past. No relationship can be enjoyed or appreciated while stalled. To remain present, forgive often and fully— and if impossible— recognize the need for a clean start.
SCHEDULE UNSCHEDULED TIME
The craziness of daily life leaves little time for board games and coffee dates. However, indulging in some free time with your significant other keeps the relationship fresh. We know your calendar is probably packed already. Get in the habit of scheduling unscheduled time to hang out with your partner. Whether you’ve got a few minutes, a few hours or a few days, make it a priority to block out unplanned time. Leave your options open to a couch date, a road trip or a competitive round of Scrabble.