A couple of years ago while living in the UK, I was in a relationship with a sweet BUT just not right for me, man. He would say yes to everything I wanted, and I wanted to wear the pants. After a while it got tiring being the one who called the shots, what I wanted was a partner who was my equal. DISCLAIMER: We were both young and terribly emotionally immature, I had a very warped expectation of what a relationship should look like. Eventually that relationship ended and I carried on with my life very happily, perhaps too happily as a single woman for my mom’s liking. So accustomed to singleness did I become that I had already planned how I’d have children on my own, very much like J.Lo in ‘The Back-Up Plan’.
I’d been single for 5 years when my paths crossed with the boy, (insert drool emoji here!) In their post engagement interview, Prince Harry said that he knew Meghan was the one due to the fact that he fell in love with her so quickly. While the cynics may roll their eyes at that, because it happened to me when I started speaking to the boy, I can honestly say that it’s true when people say you just know when you’ve met the person you intend to spend forever with. A lady that I follow on Twitter posted on how she viewed her marriage as a contract (in some aspects all marriages are I suppose.) She also stated that she did not marry her husband for love and that regardless of who her husband ended up being, she would have learnt to love him. I’m 50/50 with that comment, largely due to the fact that no matter how many times I told myself that I should try to make it work with my ex, I just couldn’t convince myself to love him truly, deeply and unconditionally.
Love, true unconditional love I should say, is a magic formula that shows such as ‘Married at First Sight’ (MAFS) have been unable to replicate. In fact, I think MAFS is the perfect example of what it looks like when a relationship is void of love and chemistry. Relationships like those while very exciting in the beginning soon hit a wall due to the lack of affinity that the people involved have for each other. I don’t believe that loving someone guarantees a relationship will work, you’ve gotta put in the grunt work and be as kind, compassionate, caring and loving as you want your partner to be. The 80/20 rule is absolute trash to live by on a daily basis as it means that one partner will always be picking up the slack. Yes, there are moments when we lean a little bit more on our partner BUT that should not be the norm. Not only can that be exhausting for the partner who constantly fills the 80% role, but it is also unhealthy and is not sustainable. In November it’ll be 2 years with the boy although it does feel like we’ve been together forever, and I can’t imagine being with anyone else. The secret to us still being together, (and in the future staying married) isn’t in occasionally wearing matching t-shirts, but in the tips listed below!
- Be as honest as possible and don’t mince your words. The boy and I are never nasty to each other, in fact we’re still a touch awkward when it comes to calling out the other person on jerky/stressed/silly/etc. behaviour. Truth delivered to better and encourage your partner to grow is different to truth delivered to cut and belittle. To illustrate this, I have a little story, which I am hoping S will not mind that I have shared. The last six months have been incredibly stressful for me, personal issues coupled with not having a car, and the ridiculous amount of money being spent on transport, turned me into a bit of a grump. Add to that having not been able to train for a just under two months and you have the perfect recipe for one short-tempered, unhappy and borderline unpleasant girlfriend. One evening I was telling S how upset I was and imagine my surprise when he told me that lately all I’d been doing was talking about all the things that were going wrong in my life and not really focussing on any steps that I could take to change what is in my hand to influence. If the boy thought that would make me feel better, he was dead wrong! It upset me further and if I was the cussing kind, the boy would’ve gotten it. Once I had cooled down and looked at things with a clarity of mind, I realised that the boy was right. I was looking at all the things that were going wrong and dumping it all on him, which meant that our conversations where always tinged with the stress coloured brush that I felt was following me everywhere. The next day I told the boy of the things that I could control and what I’d be doing differently. Instantly the sun shone again on our relationship and I learnt the valuable art of listening to your partner even when those words of honesty seem too brutally honest.
- Your partner is not your therapist. I veer on the side of caution with this point, and sometimes under-communicate because I never want to overwhelm the boy with the stress that could potentially come from whatever I am dealing with. I am grateful that I have a partner who is so good at reading when I am not okay. I struggle with admitting that I am not okay and I am working hard at reeling myself back in, and being at peace with myself. It is important to not get complacent and stop studying yourself. The more at peace you are with yourself, the more at peace you will be with other people. Don’t neglect the inner work that you should be doing to be whole/ok on your own.
- Love yourself first. This is probably the most important one and one that I believe is often overlooked. Thankfully with things such as the body positivity movement, we’re all learning to be kinder to ourselves and not looking for completion or filling of whatever hole we’re dealing with, elsewhere. I’ve had countless conversations with the boy on health challenges I want to do, hairstyles I want to try, skincare products I want to try etc. Each time he is always incredibly supportive and tells me that I don’t need to change anything (aww). To which I’m sure I’ve replied more than once, ‘I know, but I want to.’ I think it’s important to be happy with who you are as a person, learn to cultivate happiness from within and as much as possible, refrain from treating your partner as a clown who is only there to make/keep you happy. Happiness is an inside job!
- Listen, listen and listen again! This is the hardest especially when you’ve already decided (in your head), what your partner meant when he said whatever silly thing that men are very prone to saying. I try to remind myself that listening to understand and not listening to respond, pays much more dividends into our relationship piggy bank. I don’t have much else to add to this tip because I’m still learning haha!
- Choose your partner on a daily basis. A couple of months (or maybe earlier in our relationship), S and I spoke about marriage, kids, a farm where I’d be able to keep pet pigs and neither of us flinched at the thought of forever with one person. I think there’s a real magic in having found the person that I am so sure of. There isn’t anything that could make me run…now I’m not talking about being silly and ignoring red flags because trust me if any toxic traits were exhibited in our relationship, I would RUN FOR THE HILLS. There aren’t any red flags, and while I look forward to calling him my husband and baby daddy in the future, I also know that until we cross that threshold, I am 110% committed to this man. Commitment is a word forgotten in today’s ‘try before you buy’, generation. I have zero interest in trying anyone else and feel rather pleased with myself for having been found by the person who I will be entertaining (for countless years) with very bad impressions of him and Southern American accents. It doesn’t get any better than that!
If you have any winning relationship tips, share in the comments!