Four years is a pretty long time, especially since neither of us had been in a long-term relationship before. I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned over these past years, because hey, I like making lists, and maybe some of you can benefit from my infinite wisdom :P
1. Your significant other should be your best friend, but they should also be your lover. This is something I struggle with frequently, because Chris and I are so close and we truly are best friends, sometimes it's hard to switch from friend mode to boyfriend mode. After a while you learn to adjust and you find a happy medium, but I will always say that your partner should be both your best friend and the love of your life. I have never felt as close to someone as I have with Chris, and I didn't even know it was possible, but it comes so naturally and effortlessly that most of the time I don't even acknowledge it. We can horse around just as easily as we can cuddle, and I think that's so important! Being in a relationship with someone who knows you better than you know yourself is something you won't understand until you've experienced, but it's one of the coolest things I've ever been through.
2. Some things that you desperately want to change in the other person just WILL NOT CHANGE! Chris and I are going into our third year of living together, and I'm pretty easygoing about the state of the house. I'm not a tidy person by any means, so I don't really have room to judge Chris, but there's one thing he does that just drives me BANANAS! For whatever reason, he cannot remember to hang up his towels after he takes a shower. He'll leave them on the floor in the bedroom, or on the bed, and it's the most frustrating thing to me! I used to nag at him constantly, but I've realized that there's some things that just won't change. I can't force him to change this aspect of his behavior, or any of the other things, big or small, that make me crazy. What I can do, however, is change MY behavior. If I learn to change my reaction to whatever he does, things will go much more smoothly and I won't be angry or upset or frustrated as much. Why waste so much time being annoyed or mad at someone for something that you can't change (and really have no right to make them change), when YOU can be the one to change? After all, I love Chris for who he is, and he just happens to be someone who doesn't pick up his towels. In the grand scheme of things, when I'm on my deathbed, am I going to remember all the times he didn't pick up his towels??
3. Hard times can bring you together just as easily as they can push you apart. We've definitely had a hard time this year, especially since we moved back to our hometown from college. We've both had a hard time finding careers and figuring out what we want to be when we grow up. We've had to scale back our lifestyle and we've been very money conscious in the last few months. I've been more than happy to do that though, even if it can be stressful at times. And yeah, we fight about money, but what I've realized is that underneath the stress and the bickering, we've grown closer. It's kinda like war buddies or something, two people who go through something really hard together, and in the end they have this bond that no one else knows. Obviously Chris and I being broke is NOT the same as going to war or anything, but the bond that is forged between two people who support each other while they go through an unexpectedly rough patch in their lives is something I'd never experienced before. I know we won't be broke forever, but even if we are, we'll be broke together, and if we can get through today with a smile, there's no reason we can't do that for the rest of our lives. Our crappy financial situation has reaffirmed something else, which leads me to...
4. There is no fairytale. Anyone who tells you that things are all roses and sunshine between them and their significant other is a liar. Things WILL BE shitty sometimes. You will get more mad at your partner than you've ever been at anyone before. You will both say mean things. You will both want your space. You will both make the other person cry. But the thing is, you apologize and work through it and get over it, and at the end of it all, you still love that person so much it hurts. Real relationships take work, and sometimes you have to yell and cry to get things out, and if the other person is worth what you think they are, they'll still be there for you. Don't get me wrong, Chris and I have a wonderful relationship, and these angry or hurt moments are definitely few and far between, but it happens, and there's nothing wrong with it happening. It doesn't mean we aren't meant to be together, or that we don't love each other enough, or that we have a bad relationship, it just means that we're human, and we make mistakes sometimes.
I've reread my little list a few times now, and I feel like it sounds kinda dismal, but my intention was to share some real feelings and thoughts. So much of the blog world is 'tell them what you want them to know', and the real things get skipped over and everything seems perfect at all times. Chris has piped in and told me to write this: "It's like eating candy all the time, eventually you're gonna puke". Which is kinda true, if you constantly read about these glossy perfect lives that people are supposedly leading, you're going to look at yours and think you're doing something wrong. I do this ALL THE TIME, even though I'm so aware of this phenomenon, I still compare myself to other bloggers and come up feeling insufficient. My hope is that you can look at this list and know that you aren't alone in these things.
My other main point is to celebrate my relationship (which has maybe gotten overshadowed a bit... just maybe!!). Four years together is an awesome accomplishment, so high fives to us! I wanted to end this post with what I ended our "story" post with, because it's more true today than it has ever been, and I couldn't mean anything more that this...
We've definitely had our ups and downs, and things are hard sometimes, but I have found the love of my life- again. He is my best friend. I can be silly and goofy and dumb with him and we just have fun. He makes me laugh every day, and he makes me feel like the most loved person in the world. I think what we have is more than that though, we are so strongly tied to each other that I will never have to be afraid of anything for the rest of my life. We are a team, we are partners in crime, and we are soulmates.
I love you friend.