14's tips that we found worked for us, can't make promises that it will work for you but its definitely worth considering:
POINT #1 Keep God First
From the beginning of our friendship, we both knew how important we valued God and the importance of keeping him first. So from the jump, we stood firmly by Matthew 6:33:
"Seek first the kingdom and his righteous and everything shall be added on to you."
Not only is this motto the base of our relationship, but it is a motto for our everyday life. We constantly say there's really "no L's" in making God number one in your life. So this is a start to creating an extraordinary friendship that possibly leads to relationship. Please note that you must invite God from the very beginning of you getting to know each other and ask God to give you a sign if this man or women is meant to be your "cup of tea. When we felt like things started getting a little serious, we both decided to go to God and ask him to control our emotions and feelings if we weren't meant to be anything more than friends. A lot of the time, years invested into a relationship becomes a waste because God intended it to be a seasonal rather than a lifetime experience. Another mistake that is commonly made is ignoring the signs God makes visible to you. If you can't be happy and find an inner peace within yourself in your single state then how do you expect to love or be loved?
POINT#2 DATE, DATE, DATE
We are team no sex before marriage. So we to try to avoid falling into that temptation. We had no choice but to plan activities outside the comfort our own homes. So we committed to a bucket list since the year started. And our challenge was to knock out everything on that list and WE DID IT. That accomplishment has taught us commitment, consistency, and how to plan and complete goals. It also helped us to grow closer to each other, in ways we couldn't imagine. Things on our bucket list consisted of Coney Island, Bowling, Concerts, Romantic restaurants, Rollerblading, Broadway shows, (just to name a few). We wanted to breathe life into our imagination. Therefore, since you only have one life to live, why not live it out to your fullest. We only heard certain restaurants or date nights are for "bougie" people. We don’t have thousands of dollars stocked up in the bank but we got a heart of love. So it didn’t matter how much we spent for one weekend out, it was the time we spent together. If you had money and time to do the little things with your loved one, why not go all out?
POINT #3 Try Something New
Experience is the best way to better yourself because that's when you learn the most. There's a reason why one of the top qualities employers look in a potential employee is experience. With experience, you learn about things that you didn’t know you were good at, or things that you could improve on. In our relationship, new experiences have taught us a lot about each other. We have learned and continue to learn about each other through simple task or activities like learning to rollerblade and painting. It’s a great bonding opportunity for any level of dating. It’s also a platform that helps the growing process, so don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and explore.
POINT #4 Keep things interesting
(Surprise each other)
I've witnessed several "dead marriages" in the course of my lifetime. Nowadays, it is much easier to see when couples still have a spark for each other, simply by how they look at each other and/or treat each other in public eye and in the comfort of their home. Although, there are couples out there who play "the game" so perfectly you would have thought they were actors. But reading vibes comes second nature. Therefore, vibes are usually pretty accurate. Nonetheless, whenever the fire from our cupcake phase begins to lose its fire we do everything we can to keep it alive. Ways that we continue to keep things interesting is through writing each other letter or a "tell me something" text of how much we mean to each other. Yes, it may sound cliché or cheesy, but who doesn't love long text messages on how much you mean to someone?
POINT #5 Pray together
Throughout our dating process leading up to becoming an official couple, we would never left each other sight for the day without uniting our hands to pray. Prayer has literally been the gas to our engine. Often times when we hold hands and pray, there's a transfer of energy and inner strength that we feel during that time of prayers. Some of our best prayer sessions have rooted from either an argument, failure or even a long day of stresses. The Scripture tells us "whenever two or three are gathered in his name, He'll be there". Trust and believe that in those moments that we felt his presence. He always makes his presence known and felt. We pray about the good times as much as when we are dealing with difficult times. It's a beautiful aspect of a relationship when two people can not only grow physically, emotionally but spiritually. "A couple that prays together, stays together." When two people make God their foundation, it is a way to open the communication line with God in regards to their relationship. We both have experienced that our spiritual growth and commitment is one of many reasons why we both leave this year with an abundance of blessings and await next year's blessings. His word says "ask and you shall receive."
POINT #6 Keep your past, in the past
Due to a history of "being cheated on" there were several struggles. To the point where the baggage and fear began to weigh me down in my present relationship. To all my single readers, TIP: "Never bring past baggage to a new relationship. It will bite you in the tail in the long run." There is a time and place for everything. Many mistakes made is not healing from the last relationship and jumping onto a new relationship to heal the pain from past relationship. The past is the past for a reason, today is a new day. Don’t dwell on things you can't change, instead, be mindful of patterns that lead to those behaviors and stop it before it's too late. Talk it out.
POINT #7 Be Honest
If you don't like something…be honest about it
If something bothers you….be honest about it
If something rubs you the wrong way…be honest about it
You can truly lose yourself and your relationship if you aren't honest.
Moral of the story is the use your words and let your heart express your emotions.
POINT #8 Don't lose yourself
Make sure you to have a strong sense of self-identity. Never forget who you and the person you were before everything started. If your partner doesn't love you for who you are, then you might want to sit down with them and to go back to square 1 and figure out what went wrong. Or simply ask yourself if your partner is actually meant for you. Flaws and all don't change who you are just to "make the relationship work,"instead, change for the better. CHANGE FOR YOU !!!
POINT #9 Stay Humble
It takes humility to be able to understand and hear out your partner. The last thing a relationship need is two people who boast or even two people with big egos. Humility is a quality that many lacks but is considered to be so important to a relationship. Humbleness is simply being respectful of others and sometimes going more than half of the way to meet the person right where they are. Trust me when I say it's NOT the easiest quality to have and to keep. But it is something that we should work on as much as possible. Our relationship has taught us to be humble toward each other because some disagreements we had could have ended out worst because we both felt we were right and there was no middle ground to be met. But humility helps us to open our hearts and mind to understand the others points and have sympathy for their feelings.
POINT #10 Tell them why you mad
Don't leave each other angry without discussing the source of the problem. Giving each other a platform to express their feelings and being considerate of it. One of my pet peeves is when someone is mad at me and I either don't know what I did to make the person mad or it's not discussed during or around the time it occurred, but rather bring it up on another day or argument. From the moment something "seems off" we verbalize it. We try to discuss it and try to find a mutual ground and move on from it. Therefore there is no excuse to bring something up from our "archives." We have learned that once you are given a moment to say what's on your chest, its either you get everything out or you digest your anger. Life is way to short to be petty and angry today about an incident that happened 4 weeks ago. Remember that every day is a blessing, tomorrow is not promised, why not rest with a clear conscious knowing that if you something happens overnight, you knew you could be at peace?
POINT #11 Plan Together
"A man who fails to plan, plans to fail"
Being in a relationship should have "some" fun and games but shouldn't be all fun and games. A relationship should be the "preseason" of the actual season. In other words, your relationship should be a reflection of your future marriage. W always go by the motto that if you can't see someone in your future then call it quits because you're wasting your time. Planning our life and goals together has drawn us closer. We're able to see multiple perspectives and views on our life planning process, (which leads to our next point)
POINT #12 Hold each other accountable
We are both BIG DREAMERS. Rebecca is going to be a Lawyer. And Stanley is going to strive to be the best photographer in the world. In order for either of us to achieve those dreams. We truly have to stay on top of each other to get things done. A relationship is a teamwork. If I win, you win. If you lose, I lose. Besides, once you enter a marriage, you become "one flesh" right? What better time to practice and learning how to be "one flesh" then in a relationship. Its easy for many to say, "well its rushing things" or "I am not ready to start thinking about a marriage mindset" or "I want to take it slow." These comments are okay BUT be mindful, there is no guarantee that dating someone for 10 or 15 years before you marry them, will cause the change drastically every year. So for those wondering, its okay to give your partner a "marriage qualification" list run down. We can't succeed together and achieve our dreams if we aren't on the same page. Hold my hand and I'll hold yours and we will make it T O G E T H E R !
POINT #13 Block the Noise around You
"When someone sees you happy that's when people are plotting attacks to ruin your happiness"
We had negative noise from ALL angles. From acquaintances to our family, to even THE CHURCH. Who would've thought right? From the moment we began dating. We were persecuted for the negative energy of our church mates. Bible says "What God puts together, let no man separate" and we had to literally meditate and apply that to our dating life. The more you listen and dwell on that negative noise the more you bringing into your relationship without even realizing it. Other than God, who knows your relationship better? It's you and your partner. So, regardless of the "noise," just be true, be honest, be transparent and remember that God's love surpasses all understanding, so LOVE like you never loved before.
POINT #14 Fight Together
Life is a constant fight, a constant battle. But it's best if you don't fight alone. There are several ways that you can fight. We fight through prayer, we fight with positivity. We fight with humility. We fight with understanding. We fight with scriptures. We fight through patience. We fight through grace and mercy. We fight with love…. Remember you are on the same team. Fight for and alongside each other. Some fights are easier than others but remember that keep God the source of your strength and the root of your relationship and the fight will also come out victorious.