How do the years go by so fast?
This week is my 16th wedding anniversary – I can hardly believe it’s been that long.
But then again, I can.
Because what I’ve learned in that time has taught me so much more about marriage than I ever could have known back then.
It’s why I’m more passionate than I've ever been about doing everything I can to help you understand the one thing no one ever told me years and years ago.
Back when I was more concerned about NEVER finding someone, than I was about what it actually means to walk through life on a day to day basis with someone who (no matter how perfect he may be for you) is still very human.
I always thought if you married the right guy for you, everything would work itself out.
If you’re compatible in all the things that matter, it (whatever it was) would all come together to get you through everything you might encounter along the way.
You know, the love conquers all thing.
What I didn’t realize, was that love – the real, lasting kind of love you’re looking for – doesn’t take place in the context of some fantasy where he’s got all those things you can check the tick boxes for, and everything the two of you are in those beginning months and years are enough for the rest of the journey along the way.
Real love isn’t about a fantasy, it’s about reality.
It’s about being who you are and allowing this person you’ve chosen to be his own person without getting lost in each other. Especially for those of us who’ve been so used to losing sight of ourselves when someone long on potential but short on the qualities a real relationship actually requires, comes along (and if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve got my own hand raised here).
It means maintaining a separate self while still maintaining the “we” and having enough room for a “he” while still navigating where someone else ends and you begin.
All this can be summed up to mean one thing – it’s about the reality of living with another flawed human human being, acknowledging your own very human, very flawed being, and finding room for the both of you in a relationship that includes all of each of you.
The messy, the real, the flawed - the part of you that makes mistakes and sometimes isn’t as sensitive (or is too sensitive) as much as he’s his own kind of messy, real, flawed, with the part of him that makes mistakes and sometimes isn’t as sensitive or is too sensitive. And almost always with the exact opposite timing as you.
These are the words I want (no, I absolutely need) you to hear.
We’re usually going along with a fairytale, subconsciously and thus unknowingly most of the time. But what it means for us is that as much as we talk about being real and wanting someone real, it’s our fantasy fairytale selector that’s guiding our selection process most of the time.
I’m not talking about how relationships take work, nor am I saying that after the honeymoon’s over the real life begins or speaking about yet another cliché you’ve grown all too accustomed to hearing.
What I am saying is that you can’t completely and thoroughly know everything about another person until you’ve been through everything with them.
There is no way to create experiences and time that make it so you’ll have an absolute guarantee that the two of you are perfect for each other beyond the seasons you travel through together in those crucial early times, as you see as much as that time and those circumstances allow you to see.
The rest is trust.
Trust in who he’s revealed himself to you to be. Trust in his word. Trust in the character that’s dictating the actions you’ve been seeing. And trust in yourself that your invaluable intuition has been showing you as much as you can see.
There are going to be things you didn’t and couldn’t see coming.
There’ll be decisions you’ll have to make together and choices that you’ll have to choose from that will either bring the two of you closer together or tear you further apart.
But if you can get as much of a sense as possible that his heart is on the same page as yours, that his sense of empathy is as much as part of him as any other part, that you can communicate fairly and truthfully and often about everything under the moon with no subjects off limits or too hard to talk about if it matters enough to one of you, you’ll be off to a good start.
No one can know for sure but you can come pretty close.
Will it be enough? Well, if you’re looking beyond today, tomorrow and the next day to the future when you’ve been together 5, 10, 16, 20, or 30 years down the road and can see the character of this person you’re considering building a life together as much as you can see his good looks, his attitude, his good on paper traits, you’re a whole lot closer to where you'd otherwise be.
Those of us who've spent far too long building our hopes on someone with a whole lot of potential but none of the follow-through, can tell you that for sure.