Love is simple, but relationships are complicated. Making a relationship last these days is challenging to say the least. Victor and I have been married for 26 years. It’s not always easy, but once you find your soul mate, you have to put in the work to make your relationship thrive. In this blog I’m sharing with you 10 things that have helped us create a caring relationship that lasts.
Victor and I in many ways are the complete opposite of each other but despite being polar opposites, we somehow are a perfect match.
Victor loves routine. I love adventure. He values stability. I value newness.
Victor never skips a workout, except for the 6 months I dragged him through Europe (and let me just tell you, he was miserable).
He can eat the same meals every day of his life.
Everyone likes him because he never says what’s really on his mind and will always talk about you.
He’s never had a plan for anything other than if he should do back and biceps on Tuesday or go straight to leg day because of course, Monday is bench day and he might not be able to pull with max effort if his legs are sore.
My husband can fall asleep at the drop of a dime almost anywhere.
Then there’s me.
I have 10 plans for everything so that if a raccoon crosses my path after the first full moon before the summer solstice, I’ll know exactly what I’ll want to do. But it will all go to shit and I’ll instantly come up with plan 11 if the raccoon winks at me because I also read vibes.
I like to work out if… there’s no surfing, rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, ninja warrior gyms, or yoga that I can do instead. When Victor and I first started dating that’s all we did. Workout. And now the idea of counting a rep or consistently doing any form of a routine bores me to death. But I do love my sports so once every few weeks you might catch me doing some deadlifts and pull ups.
I’m a food snob and I’m the first to admit, it makes me super difficult. I want my coffee medium roasted and French pressed. Sometimes my loving husband brings me coffee in bed and I have the gaul to ask:
“Did you heat the water past 202 degrees?”
No Robyn, I turned it off at 201, he sighs.
“Oh you must’ve used Costco coffee?!”
(Insert Victor’s frustrated glare.)
I want chicken salad with organic sourdough topped with a thick layer or evenly spread French butter and a very dry red wine one day and a hazy IPA with fish tacos the next.
I’m pretty sure Victor used to cook for me, but I’ve become so controlling when it comes to my food (& pretty much everything) that I don’t let him in the kitchen now.
I’m an insomniac and am fine as long as I get a solid 8 hours of sleep every third day. I’m pretty to-the-point, which tends to piss most people off for some reason and supposedly I’m “intimidating” 😕
And somehow, despite our differences, we truly are a perfect match for each other.
How do we make our relationship work?
How do we find balance and stoke in our marriage? Well, it’s not always easy, especially after the roller coaster of a year (or 9 now) that we’ve had.
Quick synopsis in case you haven’t been following us:
In 2015, we moved our family of 7 into a 30′ RV so we could travel.
In May of 2017, we closed our business, which we had for 20 years, to go travel with the plan that Victor would do his personal training business online. We had enough money saved to travel for a year while that business and the blog took off. But if you know anything about blogging, it takes years to make money from it.
We landed from Bali in April 2018 with the accounts almost at zero and knew it was time to get real jobs again. But the kids and I really didn’t want to go back to San Diego. We were done with the traffic and lack of sharp jagged peaks and forests and moreover, the lack of joie de vivre.
We made two really strong attempts at relocating, first to Bend, Oregon and then to Breckenridge, Colorado. They were both complete and utter failures in the sense that we didn’t have the capital nor the extroverted personalities needed to start a business from scratch.
They were complete successes in that we learned a lot about ourselves and how gritty we were willing to get if we wanted a life that fulfilled us.
We learned to face some of our deepest fears and the worst fear was having to spend nights apart.
You see, we started dating when I was 17 and Victor was 19. We moved in together a year later and I’m not kidding, up until last fall, we had only ever spent one night apart! Crazy, I know.
“You have found true love when you realize that you want to wake up beside your love every morning even when you have your differences”
After six months of trying to start a business and having to work really shitty jobs in order to feed our family for a few months, Victor decided it was time to go back to what he knew in a community that knew him. His success was almost instantaneous and his happiness skyrocketed again.
Career fulfillment is not overrated.
At the same time, what would I do sitting still in San Diego? The kids and I were so happy in the forest with mountains surrounding us, screaming to be summited. On top of that, I was so happy working on the blog. I finally had an outlet for my hyperactive brain and I wanted a career too.
Knowing Your Personality Type Can Help Make A Relationship Last
I love studying personality types. It’s like a huge math equation or complex puzzle to me.
For two people who have such extremely different personalities to be able to thrive individually and still come together in a relationship is hard.
I believe that this is one of the reasons the divorce rate is so high and people’s happiness factor is so low.
We just don’t spend enough time learning about ourselves and understanding each other’s personality types.
If you don’t know your enneagram, you can learn more about it here. I also like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, although you should take it with someone who really knows you well because most people mistype.
The world tries to breed cogs but it’s doing such a disservice to our future.
Our success as a species depends on protecting our differences, accepting the outliers, embracing our strengths and finding compassion for our weaknesses.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Enneagram, I’m a type 8, which means I’m:
- extremely curious (I question everything)
- highly focused (I accomplish pretty much everything I set my mind to)
- straight-talking and assertive (yep, there’s nothing subtle about me)
- self-confident (I know what I’m good at)
- protective (don’t mess with mama bear)
- resourceful (just give me the keys, I’ll figure it out)
- strong (don’t make me bust out the guns💪🏽)
- decisive (I know what I like)
But that means I can also be:
- a control freak
- basically, really difficult
Small talk is soooo hard for me (I don’t care what the weather is or who did what on the latest reality TV show) mostly because I’m an overthinker. My mind rarely shuts off (that’s why I meditate) and if we could measure the number of ideas that a brain can contemplate at one time, I might be able to set a world record.
I’m constantly searching for truth and in-depth conversations, and I want to deconstruct and rebuild every idea I come across. I get so much joy our of analyzing new strategies, as if life was a chess match and our unorthodox lifestyle certainly gives me the freedom to test ideas while also feeling in control of my life.
Victor is a type 2, which means:
- he will always prioritize taking care of his loved ones before he ever takes care of himself (don’t take advantage of him)
- he hates any form of criticism (which means he’s not a fan of self help or pep talks)
- gets overwhelmed very easily, & keeps his emotions to himself (have you ever seen him mad? of course not! His EI is off the charts!)
- values stability and safety over self-determination (yeah bouncing around from city to city and crag to crag might not be in his best interest)
As a trainer and coach, he has the perfect job. He gets to be supportive, give practical solutions, feel appreciated, and maintain structure in his days. Everyone loves type 2’s because they give so much, but that’s not always good for their own well being.
Now, before you jump to conclusions and wonder how the heck are you two soul mates, keep this in mind…
Just because you are hard-wired a certain way, doesn’t mean that you aren’t looking to expand the adjectives that describe you.
Or put more simply, just because a type 8 sounds like a b*tch, doesn’t mean I don’t work every day on being more compassionate and softening my edges.
And just because a type 2 sounds like a big teddy bear, doesn’t mean they aren’t working on asserting themselves in the world and taking care of themselves more.
See? Now we make perfect sense.
Okay, to make this blog not just about me and so that I can sleep tonight knowing I made a tiny difference in someone else’s life today, here’s what you need to remember if you want a relationship to work.
10 Tips To Make A Relationship Last
1 | Know Who You Are
For so many years of our marriage I don’t think Victor or I truly understood ourselves. We were just plugged into a grind and did what was expected of us.
Over the past decade, as we’ve “aged”, we’ve spent a lot of time on self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-improvement.
The world is crazy and stressful (and so angry, don’t ya think) that you need to be able to separate yourself from it frequently and check in with yourself. It’s just too easy to put your hang-ups and blame your frustrations on someone else.
Before you get caught up in road rage or gossip, stop and check in with yourself. Understand who you are, what emotions you are feeling, and what you need first.
2 | Have Passions
I have so many ways I get stoked plus I do them often. I want to be married to someone who also loves things and prioritizes these things in their life.
Passionate people are fun to be around. Their energy is contagious and just as much as I want to be that energy vibrating through the world, I want to feel that energy from the people I surround myself with.
I see so many blah relationships. If you are in a blah relationship, change it. Find your purpose, your stoke, your fire within. Fight for it. Vibrate higher and be willing to stand on your own two feet.
It’s the chicken or the egg argument. Is it the blah-ness in the relationship that’s making you feel blah or are you bringing the blah and making it blah-y. Either way, you have a choice. You really do.
Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
3 | Stop Blaming + Be More Accountable
You do you and I do me, and when we meet up we bring equal energy and vibration to our interaction. Simple, but not easy to implement.
I can tell you that this is something Victor and I focus on tremendously but some days, work kicks our ass or the kids do. What allows us to fight back requires energy, effort, and abandoning a lot of fear.
This in itself needs to be its own blog so I won’t go into too much detail but think about it, you know you want to align with your significant other in this dreamy life where you walk hand in hand towards the sunset, but you have a mortgage payment you can’t miss, a school play you can’t skip, a salad that Robyn tells you to prepare the night before instead of eating a burrito for lunch again.
You feel scared. What if I lose my job, raise a child who feels unloved, and end up with diabetes?
That is all scary sh*t. Blah-ness sounds safe.
So before you freak out and start hyperventilating, take small steps to step outside your comfort zone on a regular basis.
Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.
4 | Date Each Other
There’s a fine line between comfort and boredom. For years you can go out with your spouse every Friday night to the same restaurant because you love the food and the ambiance there. It becomes so familiar, so comfortable, that you might not even notice when it turns to boring.
Predictability is not going to help you with number 10 below. While it is nice to ride the bus like Oprah says, you need to hop in the limo every once in a while. Shake things up and be spontaneous (and maybe even a little irresponsible every once in a while).
5 | Grow Up
As damaging as routine can be to a relationship, so can infantilism. You can’t go through life expecting it to be only about pleasure, fun, affirmations from your peer group, and reward.
While entertaining the senses is great on occasion, if you want to be in a lasting relationship, it might be time to think about values and tapping into a higher moral code.
6 | Stare Off In The Same Direction
As a type 2, Victor will tell you that having the desire or a plan for where he sees his future self is hard for him to do. As a type 8, I might have every day until my death mapped out. Somewhere between these two extremes is our happy medium.
But regardless of what that looks like, the point is, that it, that plan, needs to exist. You need to know where you are headed together.
If you are in a relationship, your desires, intentions and actions will have a direct effect on the other. You don’t have to have every aspect the same, but you need to be looking out in the same direction.
What I see more often as the problem in relationships is that both individuals are in survival mode and not even contemplating their future self.
Start the conversation with,
- Where do you see us in a year? 5 years?
- When the kids are grown?
- When we can take a month off work?
- When we retire?
Chances are that even if life is hard today, just knowing that you both want to one day be sitting on the beach in Tahiti together or hiking to Machu Picchu or snorkeling in the Maldives or cruising to Alaska together might be enough to be bored in the next work meeting or listen to your kids ramble on about their imaginary world they created in Minecraft.
7 | Be Vulnerable
You aren’t perfect. Neither am I. In fact, I’m sorry if I upset you in this blog in any way. My intention is to help, but sometimes my delivery is poor. And if I dropped into your wave today, I apologize. Sometimes I get so excited that I forget to look down the line.
Oh and if I accidentally made it seem like my life was perfect on Instagram, it’s not. I yell at my kids often. Victor and I still fight. My RV is always messy. My family doesn’t really get me. I’m a mess.
But every day I try to improve.
Being vulnerable means you show up trying to be your best while knowing that you suck and you’re not afraid to admit it.
Being vulnerable might be the most effective way to make a relationship last.
So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.
8 | Always Protect Your Franchise Player
Seriously, that person you want to spend your entire life with and share your deepest darkest secrets with, you’ve been dreaming of him/her all your life. Your top scout has worked hard to find him/her and know it’s up to you to protect your star player.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re the head coach of you, but you can’t go it alone.
If you want to make your relationship last, show your key players how much you love, respect, and admire them.
Unconditional love is so hard for me too some days, but every time things start to go wrong or feel off, I have to go back to this mindset. I remind myself that while I want to control everything, I want love more.
So for me, that means letting go and acting out of love, kindness, and compassion. Victor will tell you that I have a long way to go but that I am trying.
9 | Fight Naked
At the bare minimum, regardless if all the other tactics above work or don’t, prioritize your sex life. And if this part is failing, fix it. NOW.
This is the backbone of making a relationship work.
Emotions are complicated, stress will probably always be high, but if there is no intimacy in your relationship, there’s a pretty good chance that you will not be able to fix the rest.
10 | Focus More On The Physical Body
I had to save my personal favorite for last. I’m positive the number one reason Victor and my relationship has lasted for 25 years is because even when he’s tired, he makes the effort to give me a massage most days. I can be tired, grumpy, stressed out and I instantly melt.
Emotions may be complicated, but when the physical body feels good, everything else has a way of falling into place better.
My favorite date with Victor is always yoga and then a beer. This allows us to both feel better physically before trying to connect.
If you are struggling in your relationship, I encourage you to find ways to do things together that make your physical body feel better, whether it’s massage, yoga, running, working out, etc. When the body feels good, the mind will too.
Making a relationship work means you have to work on getting to know YOU.
Okay, I’m a type 8 so let me just be my to-the-point self. Relationships are hard. You have to work on them but really that means you have to work on you.
Which means being willing to absorb some pain and suffering to be happy.
The only expectation you should have is for yourself. If your relationship doesn’t serve you, change it, but for the right reasons and through the right means.
Acknowledge the expectations you have for your own life and hold yourself accountable to see them come true.
No one’s going to give you a break. Success takes work and the person you should be working hardest on is yourself.
I believe that if you get to know yourself better every day, you can create a relationship that lasts, and better yet, thrives.
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