When you become a widow you look back over your relationship with your spouse and think about things you should have done together, fights you should have let go of, times you could have spent more time together, and a hundred other "should of, would of, could of's".
I don't regret anything my late husband and I ever did. I don't regret the years before we had children and the times we spent up all night with good friends around a campfire drinking wine and cold miller lights. I don't have any regrets to what we did do. But do I have things that I wish we would have done if we would have known that our story would end 50 years before it should have? Yes. So today I share my own advice to myself for you. It doesn't matter if you're married or in a committed relationship as to me.......both are the same. I have different views now on marriage than I did when I was young. Marriage is wonderful but the same love and commitment can be accomplished without legally binding yourselves together. Maybe that's why so many marriages fail. People start to feel like their relationship is a job instead of a wonderful adventure that they must choose every single day. Anyways, on to the list.
1. Go on a vacation....just the two of you. This is really my advice to married couples or those in a relationship who both have children living at home or those who are in a committed relationship with kids. Go on a vacation and leave the kids with grandma. Will you miss your kids? Sure you will. But you need time alone together out there in the world experiencing adventure without having to deal with tantrums, and kids naps, and dragging kids on long airplane rides, and all of that. There is a time and place for a family vacation and there is a time and place for a couples only vacation. Get away together even if it's just for a weekend. Why? Because I am guessing if you did this you would get to talk more with each other, you would get to see each other in a different way, you would get to stay up late and laugh at adult jokes, you would get to fall in love a little bit more and have memories......just the two of you. My late husband and I never did this while we had children. Yes, we went on many vacations together before we had kids. But why do people then wait until their kids are grown and gone before they do this again? Do it while you have kids. Kids learn from us how to be in a healthy relationship and I believe this includes having time away from the kids and the kids having time away from us. My late husband and I should have done this. I tell friends this all the time. I tell them all the time to take a trip together without their kids. That I don't believe they will ever regret it because what if next week or next year their spouse died? They would be damn glad they had those memories. I believe it's important for our kids to see that we have a relationship that is a bit separate from them. It's important for them to see us happy and doing adult things. It's important for them to see and learn that grown up's need to relax and unwind and have adventures. And what kid doesn't want to go sleep over at Grandma's house? They will be ok. They will have fun and hell yes......so will you.
2. Never stop dating each other. Guys? Send her flowers. Not only in the first months of dating but years and years down the road and not on only Valentines day or her birthday but just on some random Monday. Write her little love letters. Have silly and dirty jokes between just the two of you. Always make her feel like she's the girl you never want to loose. Always keep trying to make her feel like she's the best thing that ever happened to you. And gals? Do this same thing for your guy. It isn't just girls that need and want romance. Guys do too. Tell him he's smart. Tell him he's so handsome when he smiles at your jokes. Text him silly and sexy things when he's at work to remind him that you're thinking of him. Point? Dating never ends just because you choose to only be with each other. I might be a romantic at heart but I really believe that so many people let this stuff go and that's why they leave each other to go find it new and fresh with someone else.
3. Make each other laugh. If your person can make you laugh until you're crying? That's your person. Never stop trying to make them laugh. Laughter is everything.
4. Whether you are married or in a committed relationship...........don't act like you are your partners parent. Let them be free. Let them live their own life. Have their own hobbies. Their own interests. Go out with their friends without you. I will never again in my lifetime be with someone who I have to ask, "Can I do this? Can I go here?" No way. My life is my own and I do what I want....with respect to the other person, of course, but I have goals/hobbies, etc that only involve myself and that's OK and it's maybe actually completely necessary.
5. Be with someone who has different interests than you. Yes, it's important to have a few things in common and similar interests to share. But also? Do you want to date yourself? Do you want to marry yourself? Meaning? If the two of you only like all the same things.....then where is the adventure? Where is the mystery? Where is the learning? If you have a few things that each of you does or likes that the other doesn't know much about? You can teach each other. You can show each other all about it. He can take you to a football game and show you some fun and you can laugh while he tries yoga with you. You might not be totally into some of these things but it sure will be fun to try them together and it's nice to have things that are separate from each other so you each have your own lives.
6. Cheer each other on. Share each others awesome social media posts. Support each other in whatever the other does for work and learn about their passions and curiosities. Also? Don't only turn inward towards your own relationship. Hold hands and turn outward towards helping others in any way that you can.
7. There's passion or there's nothing at all. If someone can make you laugh, like you on your darkest days, and make you feel a fire in your heart? Then tell them every day that you choose them because there are hundreds of "right" people out there in the world for you but you gotta pick one and make the choice every day to love them. Soul mates? People don't even understand what that term means. No one is the other half to your soul. You are complete all on your own. And often? Your first love will break your heart. Your second love will teach you about yourself and your third love will be the most grown up and real relationship you've ever had.
That's it. That's my mini list. The things that I thought about over the past two years since my late husband died. The things that I would do different. The things I laugh about with him in my mind and say, "Oh shit...we should have done this. We should have laughed about that. You should have sent me flowers even though I'm a wedding florist and see flowers all the time......those flowers were never for me. We should have been more carefree and not lived so much like we would do everything "tomorrow" because sometimes tomorrow never comes."
Get out there. Live. Laugh. Love. Go on adventures together. Remind each other as much as you can why you're together in the first place. Why? Because tomorrow isn't yours yet so have fun with each other today.