When Sam and Lea asked me to write about being in a relationship for Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t really sure what to write. I’m by no means a relationship expert. I’ve been very lucky that my first long-term relationship has been wonderful, drama-free and has led to an engagement and a wedding in April. But I have learnt a few things over the last four and a bit years…

Love

Pick your battles

Neither of us are a big fan of confrontations, and we’re both very laid back. In general, we pick our battles. If you kick up a fuss about everything, how are they going to know when something is actually important? We rarely argue, but if we do it’s over the important things. Frankly, it uses up too much energy to have a full blown row over whether he puts his socks in the washing basket straight away or whether I undercooked the roast chicken a bit.

Appreciate the small stuff

In general, I like to appreciate all the small things in life. And that extends to the relationship stuff too. He appreciates it when I add his favourite snacks on the ASDA order. I appreciate it when he makes the bed. Appreciating the little things reminds you every day why you fell in love in the first place.

Laugh together

I come from a family of jokers, so I was always going to go for someone with a great sense of humour. Mr C is as silly as me, and makes me laugh every day. Even when times are tough. ESPECIALLY important when times are tough.

Laugh at yourself

You know what? You’re going to be a prat at some point. You’re probably going to get drunk and do something silly. Or cook something horrific. Or do something embarrassing in bed. Or say something stupid. Trust me, life is easier if you can both laugh these things off.

Make an effort

I don’t know many people who have a constantly wonderful relationship. There are times when it’s so wonderful that you fall in love even more. But there are other times when life gets in the way a bit, and you have to make time and effort for each other. Doing things like booking a cinema trip, cooking a nice meal together or just sending a sweet text.

Make time to talk

At the end of each work day, Mr C gives me a call on his way home from work. His drive home is about an hour long, so we usually spend 30-60 minutes chatting about our days and offloading about any crapness. Then, when he’s home, we can relax and enjoy downtime. It’s really handy having that slot of time when we can talk to each other, distraction-free.

Have projects

When I moved in with Mr C, I had visions of us driving each other mad arguing over the TV, the housework and generally annoying each other. We’re both introverts so we need our own space. Thankfully, we’ve actually not had any of those problems, and having projects has massively contributed to that. I can often be found on some sort of digital project, and Mr C can often be found browsing eBay for parts for his Mini or messing about in iTunes. Then we bore each other with our project progress.

Awareness of your mood

This is a bit of a controversial one. Everyone has bad days. I’m not talking about depression here, that’s an entirely different situation. But if you come home from work every day in a bad mood, or you’re feeling angry about something in your life, consider the impact your mood is making on your other half. Can you change your situation to improve your mood? I’m not suggesting you put on a false front. But being miserable about something you can try and change can be draining for the other person.

Relationships + eating out = Love lbs

The first three years of our relationship were mainly spent in restaurants (*ahem* usually Nandos). As a consequence of this (and my lazy exercise attitude and working from home) I put on weight. Er, three stone of weight to be exact. I’m working hard now to lose some of it in time for the wedding, but I think it’s kind of inevitable to put a little happy weight on when you dating.

Relationships don’t have to be dramatic

I grew up on TV shows like Dawson’s Creek and The OC. I thought relationships were supposed to be dramatic. Then I met a nice guy. Y’know, those ones that are supposed to be ‘dull’. Except, he was funny, cheeky, smart, kind, brave and generous, with sparkly eyes and a gorgeous smile. And he makes me a better person. Drama is great for TV, but in real life, it’s the good guy that makes me happy.

So, this Valentine’s Day, we’ll be doing what we do best. Having a curry in front of our favourite movie. How will you be spending it? And what lessons have you learnt from your relationships?

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