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Committed love relationships are tricky. They include two distinct individuals with unique upbringing, thoughts, expectations, baggage, hurts, dreams, desires, and more. How do you mesh the two? How can you come together and live a long life together? Is it even possible?
While I was dating, I thought he loved me. I checked my blooming relationship with the things I had learned in my college relationship courses to ensure we were on the right track. After we were married, things started coming up that made me wonder if he did love me.
My husband’s actions and words didn’t seem to fit what I expected I would have in a loving relationship. I worked and worked on myself. I worked hard to change and make sure my expectations were not unreasonable. I adjusted my communication and started implementing specific strategies that I learned at marriage retreats and from counselors.
However, when I voiced that my spouse neglected my needs, he was never willing to change or acknowledge that he should. Then I started to question, what can I expect from a loving husband? What is reasonable to want in a marriage relationship?
What is non-negotiable for a loving relationship?
Maybe you are feeling the same way. Maybe you have been working on yourself and trying to improve your relationship. Maybe you just don’t see the changes you are hoping for in your spouse or significant other, and you are left wondering if what you feel is even reasonable.
Here are 5 non-negotiable things you can (and should) expect from a loving partner.
Loving partners may not always agree, but there is mutual respect given, and opinions are appreciated. Disagreements occur without putdowns and with the value attributed to both individual’s thoughts and ideas.
Partners often choose each other for their differences. People attract others that are strong where we are weak. Loving partners acknowledge they are weak and accept the partner’s loving guidance and help in these areas.
They also allow their partners to excel and shine in their areas of strength. They understand and respect that those strengths can challenge and encourage them to become a better person.
Intimacy is one of the foundations of a healthy relationship. Both partners can expect mutual and active cultivation of intimacy.
Sexual encounters are not the only thing that builds intimacy. However, this is a primary and enjoyable source of intimacy. Partners should expect mutually satisfying sexual encounters regularly.
Sex is the one type of intimacy that is exclusive in a committed relationship. Faithfulness in sexual intimacy is reasonable to expect. Devotion holds in various aspects of a sexual nature. You can expect your spouse to abstain from sexual thoughts, actions, and visuals when they are exclusive to you.
A partner can expect intimacy in other areas, as well. There are several areas of intimacy, including spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and experiential. You can rightfully expect the nourishment of all of these in a healthy relationship.
To Be Cherished
You can and should presume to be cherished in a committed, loving relationship and then treated as such.
Cherish is such an old-fashioned word. We don’t use it too much outside of traditional marriage vows. So, just what does it mean, and what actions would be evidence of cherishing someone?
1a: to hold dear: feel or show affection for
cherished her friends
b: to keep or cultivate with care and affection: NURTURE
cherishes his marriage
The first thing that stands out to me in this definition is that it is an active verb: “feel, show, keep, cultivate.” These are all things you must do intentionally.
protect and care for (someone) lovingly.
“he cared for me beyond measure and cherished me in his heart”
adore, hold dear, love, care very much for, feel great affection for, dote on, be devoted to, revere, esteem, admire, appreciate;
think the world of, set great store by, hold in high esteem;
care for, look after, tend, protect, preserve, shelter, keep safe, support, nurture, cosset, indulge;
These synonyms provide a perfect list of actions to look for in your relationship.
Is your spouse feeling adored? Is she feeling appreciated? Admired? Do you care for, protect, support, and keep your partner safe, both physically and emotionally? Would she answer this the same way you would?
Are you actively doing these things? Do you desire to do these things, are remorseful when they tell you are not, and attempt to do these things regularly, then you are cherished.
Empathy and Compassion.
Empathy and compassion are sometimes hard to glean in today’s self-centered and entitled culture, but they are of the utmost importance in a marriage relationship.
Empathy is when you listen to another’s thoughts and feelings with the intent to understand what they are experiencing. Then you can follow up with compassion, genuine care for what they are going through, and what they might need from you.
Empathy is necessary when a loved one is experiencing physical or emotional pain and is equally important when they are experiencing joy or excitement for something.
Empathy is a way to nurture emotional intimacy, and it builds trust with another when you are free to share what you think and feel and know the other will try to understand what you are sharing.
In every close relationship, there will be conflict. Conflict is a fact and a given. You can expect a battle, but you can also expect an appropriate response to fighting from a partner.
Accountability is where you own up to your mistakes and your part of the conflict. You are willing to build trust both before and after an error.
If it becomes evident that there is an emotional or psychological problem that is negatively affecting the relationship, then an accountable partner will make efforts of their own to fix these problems; to learn and grow and change.
A loving partner recognizes when they have done something to break their partner’s trust. If they want to repair the relationship, they will need to increase accountability and intentionally rebuild trust. They show heart-level remorse for what they have done and seek to make it right through words and actions.
All in all, these five things are non-negotiable in a relationship. Your spouse or partner is right to expect them in a committed relationship. These are realistic expectations that every relationship needs to be successful.
The thing is, you can expect them, but you can’t make another individual give them to you.
You can make sure you are giving them all freely and abundantly. If you are doing that, you may find that your partner will begin to feel free to do the same.
However, if you are giving, yet not experiencing these basics in your relationship, it may not be the loving relationship you thought you had. You are right and reasonable in your thoughts that your partner may not genuinely love you if you are not receiving these five basics in your marriage.
If you feel unloved because some or all these things are absent in your marriage, I encourage you to reach out for support. See a counselor or talk to a trusted friend or mentor. You may need to work through some things in yourself, so you can respectfully leave the unloving relationship you are in, especially if your spouse refuses to cultivate these necessities so you both can experience receiving them.