When I was 11 my family flew from California back to Iowa to visit family. It was the first time I had ever been on a plane. I distinctly remember the flight attendants giving my brothers and I these little wings to pin on our shirts. I remember them stopping by to see us a lot, and giving us treats. We thought we were pretty special, and they made us feel safe.
I didn’t fly again until a couple of years ago. I was going along on a business trip with my husband, his two business partners, and their wives. I was really excited to get out of the winter cold and spend a few days in San Antonio with my friends. However, the thought of flying was giving me overwhelming anxiety. So much so that I was almost ready to back out of the trip.
But my mom gave me some advice that got me on the plane. She reminded me of the first flight I had taken almost 17 years before. She told me, “Keep your eyes on the flight attendants. They fly all day, everyday. They’ll help you stay calm.”
She was right. During takeoff I could see them chatting away buckled into their seats. When the plane would shake, they would keep serving Diet Coke and pretzels with smiles on their faces. They were so used to the turbulence that they spent their time calming people with their kindness. They had so much experience flying that takeoff and landing didn’t bother them at all. Once again, they made me feel safe.
My husband and I experienced something similar in our relationship. The first year of marriage can be rough. And I’ve heard that, for whatever reason, year seven is a tough one too. This was the case for us.
Sometimes it’s easygoing. Other times there’s so much turbulence you’re waiting for someone to turn on the seatbelt sign. For us, our older married friends were the equivalent of the flight attendant. Their experience with the ups and downs of marriage helped us avoid some pitfalls and encouraged us when things were tough. They also gave us advice about how to make our relationship fun, fulfilling, and rewarding. Finding a couple to mentor you is a great strategy for maintaining your relationship.
Healthy Relationships Iowa’s couple’s workshops do not assign you a mentor, however, we use a curriculum called Prepare/Enrich that is based off research of thousands of couples. HRI offers education for couples on communication, family background, conflict resolution, understanding your partner, and more. This information is based on years of studying couples and it provides proven strategies that couples can use every day.
We encourage you to find a couple to keep your eyes on to help you navigate your relationship’s flight. It’ll make a big difference. In the meantime, we’d love to give you education that you can utilize in your relationship as well. You can learn more about our free classes and register here.