But there is something to be said about having experience with a fully committed relationship and the things you learn from it. I’ve been married for almost three years now and our relationship is far from perfect (believe me, we have our moments) but I’ve learned a lot of things along the way that I think could be helpful for those of you who are still looking for that Mr. or Mrs. Right.
Here are a few things I’ve learned up to this point. I’m by no means an expert but I do feel like I know a lot more than I did a few years ago. Take it or leave it and who knows, it might just be what you need to hear.
We’re All Selfish
This is a simple fact of life and part of being a human. We’re all programmed to take care of #1 before all else and to make things worse our culture is always telling us this over and over again. We can take care of ourselves, we don’t need anyone else’s help and I want what I want when I want it (or else). In a relationship you’re going to have to chip away at this little by little and eventually you’ll need to get to the point to where you’re giving more of yourself than you ever imagined possible. This might sound like a scary thing, but it’s actually a great place to find yourself if you can make it there.
The things in your life that you think make you who you are will need to become less important, which is going to be a hard pill to swallow. Your workouts will be harder to squeeze in, your work will have a beginning and an end time and you’ll find yourself doing things that your significant other cares about that you never paid attention to or ever wanted to do before. Oh, and you’re going to be communicating more than you ever have in your entire life. Sounds awesome, huh? (it actually is if you can get it all figured out)
Are you losing who you are? No. You’re just becoming the person you never knew you could be.
Relationships Take Work
This sounds really bad when you say it to someone who’s single but anyone who’s been married for longer than a year will tell you that there’s a lot of work needed to keep a relationship going. A lot of people think that things will just happen the way they should in a relationship, but that’s just not the case. Can it move along smoothly for a while without too much effort? Sure, but that’s going to eventually fade away and then it’s time to get to work on what you really want.
This isn’t the traditional roll-up-your-sleeves kind of work. This is being aware of what you need in a relationship and communicating it to others in a way that can be understood. It’s also understanding what the other person in your relationship needs and how to make sure they’re getting what they need in a way that’s healthy for your relationship as a whole. It takes planning, forethought, being intentional and communicating in a way that the other person in your relationship understands (not just in a way that you do).
This work shouldn’t scare you away from being in a relationship but it should help you set some expectations so you’re not completely blindsided by what it takes to keep one going in the right direction. Communicate on a ridiculous level to each other even when it feels so awkward you want to throw up. That feeling is you being molded into someone who can help build something special with another person. Embrace the work and it will pay off, just don’t shy away from it or avoid it. It’s the easy way out and it’s tempting, but you’re better than that.
Don’t Be Who You Think They Want, Be Who You Are
One of the early mistakes I made in my marriage and even in some of my earlier relationships was becoming who I thought someone else wanted me to be and not who I actually was. With the other relationships it was just an easy way to keep things smooth, exciting and moving along at a pace I liked but it can only last so long and it was exhausting.
This isn’t necessarily being a completely different person when you’re around someone else — it can simply be not speaking up about things you feel you should talk about or avoiding conflict for the sake of not upsetting someone else. This is something I dealt with in my relationships with women, my close friends and even family and I still struggle with it today. I feel like this topic could be an entire series of posts for me, but we’ll leave it at that for now.
I think the reason why I always did this was simple, it got me what I wanted quicker. Whether it was getting a girl or a group of people I just met to like me faster, it just made things easy. I could turn on the charm and it would fast track me to where I wanted to be. I still find myself doing this in certain situations and to be honest it’s a great quality of mine but it’s only good for getting people’s attention should never be a long term way to manage my relationships (great for networking events, traveling, etc.). I’m figuring all of this out even today and it’s exciting to learn more about myself and how I create, build and manage my relationships with my wife, family, friends and co-workers. I’m learning to be who I am and to be ok with it. More and more I’m finding my identity in my faith, which is another topic I’ll write more about in the future.
If you’re going to be in a relationship that lasts you need to be who you really are — the good, the bad and the ugly. You can change some of the things that need some improvement, but you need to do that together. That’s part of the messiness and what will bring you closer to whoever you’re sharing these types of things with. Someone once said that people admire you when you seem perfect but they love and respect you when you’re open with your own weaknesses. None of us are perfect and I think they might be right.
I’m not sure if all of this makes sense but it does to me and I’m realized that whatever I’ve gone through others have or are going through the same things, too. If you’re someone who needs to hear what I’m saying I hope it helps and if you have any comments for me I’d love to hear ‘em.
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