When I got married, I was young, naive and completely unprepared to deal with my life ahead. I had no idea how to juggle married life, work and the beginning of my graduation in a new city, thousands of miles away from my family! By the way, this picture was taken when we first met in the airport. Reminiscing the last ten years, I tried to decode what on earth made us stick to each other emotionally and physically. I am not a relationship counsellor, so don’t expect any pro tip, but I hope you can grasp the essence of long term relationship from this post.
- Compassion is more magnetic than passion: Passionate love is exciting and intense like limerence but it has it’s “shelf life”. This is the sort of love that I looked for back in the days because this is idealised and fed by a lot of films and music that shaped my mind. Compassionate love, I later realised, is more magnetic that made our relationship stronger even in hardship.
- Sex gets better with time: Knowing each other intimately and what excites us definitely helped. Kissing the sleeping beauty, the frog or those couples in the films who becomes aroused by the first kiss might work for some, but not all. Just because the first sex is painful or your first kiss is awful, it does not mean things cannot get better with time. Patience and practice pay off.
- Dealing with intruders: We all have a bunch of judgemental nosy people in our lives who can predict our future without living in our bodies or time travelling! They do not know the feelings we get from hugging, pillow talks and the moments when we think of the same thing at the same time, and yet they meddle with our lives. Clear boundaries matter most when dealing with these intruders. We learnt it the hard way. If you or your partner struggle with people pleasing, and you want to hide your romantic gesture because that might hurt anyone’s feelings, try leading by example and acknowledge that you are doing something worthwhile to make some people envious.
- Clear communication: Some people shy away from conflicts and become incredibly difficult to deal with, as they manifest their disapproval with twisted passive aggressive behaviour. When I am expecting to live a long term relationship with someone, it is not worth spending time on unnecessary guesswork. We do not have to agree and follow every single thing with each other but assertive communication makes life easier as we let each other know where we stand.
- Self respect: I cannot bear the thought of relinquishing my life for my husband or even my son. I do make sacrifices but I cannot loose my identity to be someone’s wife. This comes from self respect and I expect my husband to preserve his dignity just as much. We do not try to change each other, we be ourselves together.
- Not for granted: The last five points may seem like everything falls into place effortlessly. Trust me, nothing is effortless. We still take time to notice and encourage each other’s interests as much as we can. We give thoughtful gifts and try to spend quality time while juggling our personal interests, parenting and our hustle and bustle. If life becomes boring, we stir it up together with things we both enjoy.
- Being supportive: Having arguments and valuing self respect does not, by any means, promote dismissive attitude without any reason. We came closer to each other while we were going through rough patches, but were still supporting each other. Vulnerability connects people, pity party doesn’t. We humans can sense the difference and the ones worth being in our lives, will be supportive when we need. Supporting my husband to work towards his ambition makes me feel kind and I appreciate his reciprocation.
- Gratitude: When someone discusses dissatisfactions in their married life, I can relate and can in fact tell worse stories of mine. Our relationship is far from perfect but then I realise, I am not really bothered much by these flaws. I have mentioned my husband’s name repeatedly in my gratitude journal. Is it “positive illusion” , codependency or is he too good to be true? I don’t know, but gratitude and optimism definitely work wonders.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: If we cannot forgive any minor flaw and feel entitled to receive amends, chances are we are welcoming unnecessary dramas that is going to push each other further away. On the other hand, if we try too hard and repent as a result, that is not going to make us happy either. So we both steer clear from entitlement and trying to hard. Such issues are worth overlooking.
- Realistic expectations: We both are well aware that our lives are not fairy tales. We are imperfect humans that might die or drift apart any time. However, these do not stop us from being mindful of our relationship and enjoy while we can.
Hitting a decade feels incredible and I am looking forward to our future. If you have enjoyed the muse over our relationship, please like, share and comment below.