Relationships can be fun, full of love and honestly, sometimes really HARD. Being with the right person does make the challenges a lot easier, but a union of two completely different people is not the easiest thing to maintain, especially when it comes to long term love. Whoever said being in a relationship is easy definitely lied!
I have been married to my husband for 18 years, but we’ve been together for 25 total. Yes, I said 25 years of being with the same person! For many people, that may be an incomprehensible amount of time to be with one person at the age of 42—it’s over half of our lives! Our relationship started as two young teenagers who decided to date. We were so in love and always wanted to be together. Things were always fun and exciting as our new love grew. We were looked at as the “perfect couple” and although we are complete opposites, we complemented each other flawlessly (and still do). My timidness and his fearlessness made us a force to be reckoned with.
I’m asked ALL the time—how is it possible that you have only been with one person your whole life?! My first reaction is that I feel pretty offended by that question. I also think to myself—is it that hard to believe? Then I think—I guess this is not something very common, so it does seem pretty magical, if I say so myself. It would be awesome if instead of asking with judgment, people reacted with joy and applause. A great achievement deserves a standing ovation, doesn’t it?! And I am damn proud of me and us for getting to this point.
Now don’t get me wrong, it has not been 25 years of unicorns and rainbows. There have been ups and downs that we have had to overcome as a couple. From learning to communicate, being able to understand each other’s intimacy signals, understanding boundaries when it comes to friends and family relationships, to figuring out how to maintain our finances as a couple. All of these things we had to learn and take on together, even if we disagreed or viewed it completely opposite.
Most of the time these speed bumps led to long drawn out “discussions.” I say that because my husband did not like for me to raise my voice during those times, so they felt more like discussions instead of arguments. It was SO HARD being really mad about something and having to speak in an inside voice to communicate how I felt. This definitely took me a while to learn, but I’m grateful my husband has an overabundance of patience. I, admittedly, do not share that same quality with him, so that transition for me was tough! There were also times when disagreements led to me saying, “I’ll be hanging out with the girls all night” or “I’m not speaking to you for a few days” or “I’m sleeping on the couch for the next few nights.”
Looking back at those moments makes me realize how committed we are to each other and our relationship. It shows our resilience when things get hard. Sometimes those responses still happen, but we try to give each other space and communicate through our problems. There is no right or wrong way to solve relationship challenges and there is also no manual to let us know what to do. We are all doing the best we can!
Throughout this roller coaster ride of marriage, I’m not afraid to say that there have been times when either us, or even both of us, were not sure if we could get past the issues in front of us. Did it seem crazy that after all these years we couldn’t make it? How could we not work it out after being together for so long and knowing each other so well? These were all REAL feelings that we had to confront and address within ourselves and to each other. During some of the most challenging times, I reached out to close friends, podcasts and books about relationships for advice. Sometimes I just needed to step outside of my own mind to find the solution to what we were dealing with. I am super grateful for my supportive group of friends to help me think through these situations and give me advice when I most need it. They give me the honest truth and do not hesitate to tell me when I’m wrong.
In the end, my husband and I may sometimes “agree to disagree” or one of us surrenders for the sake of moving on. I do admit that for a long time it was usually him that was surrendering since I was too stubborn to do so. I am eternally thankful he loves me enough to be ok with losing a few battles here and there, because ultimately it moves us forward. Throughout this process and as I have gotten older I have also learned to choose my battles. I have been more reflective in my decisions and actions and how it affects our relationship. All things are not worth making a fuss about and sometimes you just need to let it go. We still have challenges as any couple does, but we are committed to this union and realize that it takes us both expressing, listening and hearing each other’s wants and needs. Nothing good comes easy, so it’s definitely worth the fight.