Over the weekend I saw an “influencer” post a Q & A with her new fiance’ in which they shared relationship details and advice. I certainly don’t think being together a long time means you know more or are in a position to give better advice (everyone can bring something to the table!), but I found it interesting how so many people took their advice to heart or measured their own relationships by what the couple had to say.
I definitely think there’s a “honeymoon” period when it comes to romantic relationships. There’s a time when everything is new and exciting and the sex is mind-blowing and you have yet to encounter any major hurdles. Maybe everything in both of your lives is great – little responsibility, no stress over bills or health, both have great jobs, you giggle when you get up to use the bathroom on the middle of the night and your ass meets the water because he forgot to put the toilet seat down! Cute!
And you can be 15 or 40 or 75 years in and still have those things: little stress, great sex life, he still won’t put the toilet seat down! How funny! I hope you have all of that and more. But sometimes you won’t, and that is okay. I do not like the implication that relationships should be breezy and fun all the time. Just like everything else in life, they require work. If you sit around stuffing your face with McDonald’s all day and never exercise, your body will pay the price. And the same goes for relationships (whether with your significant other, or family, or friends). There will be hardship: one (or both) of you might lose a job. Money struggles. Kids. Infertility. Depression. Illness. Foreclosure. Debt. Loss of sex drive. Infidelity. You disagree politically. There will be the smaller things that you don’t always see coming that test you, too: the air conditioner breaks in the middle of an August heat wave. The water heater explodes. The washer and dryer die. The car won’t start. Can’t get a WiFi connection when you’re both trying to work from home. They eat the leftovers you were excited to warm up for lunch. No one wants to go to the grocery store. You’re stuck in hours of traffic after an already long car trip. Plans (and people) change. You get busy doing life and stop making date nights a priority. It’s up to you both to work through the struggles.
But you have to be realistic, too. Not every conflict is easily solved. There are a million things that can derail a relationship, so it must be cultivated. You have to (sometimes) compromise. You will fight. There will be nights in separate beds and some days spent giving one another the cold shoulder. One of you might threaten to leave. It’s hard for two people to live together in harmony every day! We are human and make mistakes.
I am incredibly lucky in my relationship. He’s my biggest supporter. He loves my family and provides and encourages. We actually enjoy spending time together, and, after 10 years, I still feel like I never have enough time with him! But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. We’ve had to put in work (and continue to do so). We’ve faced countless tests. You quickly learn what a person is made of when your bedroom is 105 degrees. We spent nearly two weeks living on and off in a dingy hotel almost two years ago, and, while our hotel bar tabs were actually higher than the price of our room, we survived. We have survived much worse, and I hope we will continue to work together through the shitty days. It hasn’t been all fun and booze and laughter.
I’ve never felt comfortable giving love advice because I know I have a lot to learn, but, the point of this rambling post is to say that while every relationship is different, they all require effort and grace and time. When I was in my twenties, I’d get jealous over the silliest things that my friends on Facebook would share. Ridiculous shit like extravagant gifts and public displays of love. Things 20-year-olds think define love. But I challenge you to remind yourself of the non-social media moments. The time when you have a stomach virus and your partner makes a grocery store run for medicine and ginger ale, and still loves you even though you share a bathroom. The time when you order the wrong kind of pork on Kroger’s ClickList and he goes out in the middle of a snow storm to pick up the right kind so you can make a recipe you’ve talked about for weeks. When he drives you to work in terrible conditions because you can’t take the day off and you’re terrified of ice. Holding you while you cry over work or losing a friend. All of the small, every day things that don’t get a mention on Facebook.
No couple has it all figured out… no matter how many followers they have on Instagram. Each relationship comes with its own struggle and it will never be perfect. One of my favorite lines from the first Sex and the City movie is when Samantha asks Charlotte about being happy in her relationship and Charlotte admits she’s not happy all day every day, but every day. That’s what we need to remember, right?