Hello internet-dwelling love bugs.
So, this will be an interesting experiment where I journey forward into writing about relationships. To summarize, my history with relationships that last longer than a year is bleak. It is perfectly ironic that I so quickly knew I wanted to marry Jake when we began seeing each other.
That being said, I must confess: I have very little hands-on experience being in a relationship. Do you want to know a secret, though? I haven’t needed any.
I learned this in many idiotic attempts to be everyone’s perfect girlfriend back when I was chain-dating. It never worked. Enough time would always eventually pass for either a portion of my real self to slip into a conversation, or for me to realize that I was really not with someone I wanted to be with.
Albeit, I was a few years younger than I am now, and it’s possible that the path of every young adult involves screwing up in both relationships with others and themself. I like to think so. It makes for a more empathetic connection to one’s mistakes.
I eventually stopped the identity altering and discovered how much easier it was to be myself (more fun, too). It was also simpler to understand that maybe whomever I was dating might just not ‘click’ with my reckless and wild soul. Each time I had a bad date or stopped seeing someone, I became more excited about the person I would meet who I did ‘click’ with – they would just have to be that much more awesome.
I am telling you all of this because I think I am finally coming to a conclusion about relationships. I have been trying to write this blog post for the past four months and every time I think I’ve read something that encompasses the overall ‘gist’ of relationships, something comes up in my own in relationship that proves otherwise. I read many books during this period of relationship philosophizing, two of which stuck out. David Schnarch’s “Passionate Marriage” was helpful, enlightening and convincing, and Thomas Moore’s “Soul Mates”, although not quite as accessible, I think had something deeper melded to its core message.
The conclusions I have reached in regards to my own relationship did not come jolting out at me from either book… Or perhaps they are a combination of many ideas merging into a greater whole… Regardless, what follows are now my relationship goal posts. HUZZAH.
1. It’s intrinsic. No one can tell you how to navigate your own relationship with another person. Mostly because no one besides you and your partner has been heavily immersed in the weaving of your particular souls. Thomas Moore was ballsy enough to say in his own book that, “Establishing intimacy with yourself or another is not a matter of finding new information or borrowing new words for your condition or your personality. Nor is it the application of these words and ideas to your experiences. New ideas about psychology often lead to suggested programs of self-improvement, but such programs work against the soul.” You will be the one to create your own story. Isn’t that a nice thought?
2. The lows are just as good as the highs. As a society we are quick to assume that any negative emotion is a gateway into depression or a disconnect from our inner workings. Feeling happy may be a whole lot healthier and genuinely feel better, but you can’t evolve as a person without experiencing the bad stuff. I don’t mean that you should go and make yourself a nest in the deepest, darkest hollow of your being so you can wallow, rather, you should at least allow yourself to touch upon that real, living sense of being. I say this because the more empathy we have for ourselves – the more we can forgive ourselves, accept ourselves and feel for ourselves – the more accepting and understanding we become of our also-imperfect fellow human beings. If more married people said that the good stuff also lies in the arguments and shaky emotions, maybe we wouldn’t feel like such fuck-ups every time we experience something other than joy.
3. I have only been married for six months, so everything I am typing now could be complete nonsense. But I feel once those vows have been said and the knot has been tied, you are left staring at a very real attachment to another person. I am going to live with this person for as long as life permits it. (A cab driver once informed me that his first wife died, and his second became a lesbian and left him – thus, as long as life permits it). As I looked upon this wondrous commitment that I was so very compelled to make, I found myself seeking out a road map or a model that would frame and shape the existence of Jake’s and my relationship. Getting married really does suddenly make the relationship very different, but there were way too many movies, books and TV shows that presented a vision of what the role of husband and wife “should” look like or “should” be that did not resonate with me at all – and that terrifies me.
Jake and I recently went and saw “This is 40” in theatres… It was quite possibly one of the most depressing movies I have seen. I walked out of the theatre, with Jake’s hand in mine, popcorn-butter smeared across my fretful face, and I could not help but worry that this is what my fate might be. That, one day, I would wake up and my day would begin in and end in frustration and yelling.
When we first got hitched, I had it in my head that maybe we now needed to meet all these marriage requirements; that we now had to act, look and live like grown-ups because we had made this big grown-up decision.
To this, I now say: donkey bullocks.
It is our generation that I believe can rewrite this narrative. I would like to fill the world with more stories of marriages and relationships that embrace our inadequacies. I would like to stop trying to be a “good” girlfriend or an “effective” wife and just be me.
“Another problem with the idea of self-improvement is that it implies there is something wrong with who we are. Everyone wants to be someone else, but getting to know and love yourself means accepting who you are, complete with your inadequacies and irrationalities.” – Thomas Moore, Soul Mates
That’s what I wanted, anyway. When I got married, I just wanted Jake to always be there while I continued being myself. When Jake and I began seeing each other, neither of us wanted a relationship, and when it came to the point where we were obviously more than just friends, we had a very awkward, but valuable conversation about our relationship. We were both afraid of having to follow the same “relationship rules” that we had in previous relationships, that we would no longer be able to have the same fun we’d been having together. We concurred that we would approach our future in a manner that was similar to an art project. Onto a canvas we wanted to throw spontaneity, happiness and a mutual appreciation for one another (we hadn’t dropped the L-bomb yet).
With all of the wonderful marital advice we received, none of it really makes a dent until you are actually doing the marriage stuff. And even when you are, you very rarely remember the advice. But maybe this will help or sit somewhere deep in the subconscious of your future or current married/long-term committed brain: resist nothing and enjoy the ride.