9 Tips for Keeping the Romance Alive in a Relationship

Two years ago Alicia Krage wrote a guest post for our Easterseals national blog about some of the challenges and joys of being – and dating — someone who’s blind. She and Joe are still together, and I asked her if she’d be willing to write a post for Valentine’s Day with advice for others on how to keep a long relationship like theirs stay strong. Lucky for us, she said yes!

Ali and Joe.

Ali and Joe.

by Alicia Krage

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’m writing a post that focuses less on my disability and more on the foundation of the relationship that my boyfriend Joe and I have built. Joe and I have been together nearly three years now, and I’ve learned a lot of things during that time.

As it goes with any relationship, we’ve had our ups, downs, and obstacles. And we’ve had to make compromises. Over the years I’ve used what I’d learned from previous relationships to strengthen this one. Some of the things I learned were simple, some were difficult, and today I hope my nine tips might help readers who are in a longer relationship keep it going:

  1. Prioritize and make time for each other. You’d be amazed at how little time Joe and I get with each other sometimes. There have been plenty of days when we were both so busy that the only time we saw each other was when we had dinner together at the dining hall for about 30 minutes. After that, it was back to schoolwork. Once things calmed down, we used our next free day to do a date night. Dinner, a movie, or sometimes we’d just have our own game nights here in the dorm. The goal is always the same: quality time together.
  2. Remember that while you are partners, you are also friends. Having known Joe for seven years now, it’s weird to picture a time when he wasn’t in my life. Something that has always been a comfort to me is that we were best friends first. Date nights are fun, keeping the romance alive is important, but I also think it’s important to remember that you’re also friends. I love those moments that remind me that he’s honestly and truly my best friend in the entire world, and there’s nothing I can’t tell him. Heart to hearts at 1am will always be one of my favorite things to share with Joe.
  3. Relationships are not always sunshine and rainbows. Relationships are hard and they take work. I’m usually the type of person that wants to solve things as soon as possible when we’re in a fight — I really hate going to sleep sad or angry. But sometimes it happens. Taking time to breathe, to calm down, and wait until you’ve worked out what you want to say before talking things over (without shouting) is much more effective than trying to solve it ASAP when your words aren’t coming out right.
  4. Communication is key. Since we are both blind, I feel like this is even more important. We can’t look at the other person’s face right after we’ve said something to see their reaction, to know if they’re offended, or if something’s just not okay and they’re having a bad day. We need to communicate these things, because otherwise we literally have no way to know.
  5. Encourage one another during new or challenging experiences. Joe and I have gone to a lot of new places — some local, some not — and it’s nice when one person is more encouraging and has a positive attitude about it. Whenever Joe has an idea of going somewhere or doing something new (the first time we went to the movies, for example) I’m always a bit nervous and instantly start worrying about what will go wrong. Joe always says the same thing: “We’ll figure it out.” I can hear the smile in his voice when he says this, and it’s all the assurance I need. There will be obstacles, but we’ll figure them out as we go.
  6. Don’t just be comfortable with one another and slip into the same day-to-day routine. Surprise one another with things. Occasionally, when I’m picking up a cup of coffee for myself from Dunkin Donuts, I’ll grab a hot chocolate for Joe on the way out. Sometimes Joe comes back to the dorms with Culver’s custard for me. It’s nice to know that while you’re off doing your own thing, someone else is thinking about you.
  7. Balance is key. You can have your own life and your own friends, and you should also want time to yourself. You should unapologetically want that extra space. Sundays are typically that day for me – homework at a coffee shop in the morning, relaxing in the afternoon, and then we usually meet up later in the evening for dinner at the dining hall. We need time to ourselves. Time to ourselves is important.
  8. Be spontaneous. Don’t go to the same places all the time – try something new. One morning Joe and I went to a bagel shop that I discovered online — I’d read good reviews about it on Yelp. Now we go there on Saturdays. Not every Saturday, but on Saturdays when time allows.
  9. Bring back some memories sometimes. Joe and I have had a lot of time together, and it’s nice to take a trip down memory lane. I still remember the precise day we had our first date (March 28, 2015) and where it was (IHOP). Now, every year on that same day, we have dinner at IHOP just like we did that night. Of course it’s different now, but it’s nice to go somewhere that brings back memories and takes us back to where it all began.

More posts by Alicia:


 

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