Being in a romantic relationship with the same person for the past 15+ years has come with its ups and downs. On one hand, it’s everything I ever dreamed of—a forever-after, a best friend to share the everyday with, a beautiful partnership. On the other, it’s a forever-after that has come laced with hardships, monotony, and its fair share of unpleasant surprises, and a partnership it most certainly is but one between two very imperfect people.
To date we’ve managed to endure for better or worse, and I’ve realized that long term relationships do come with their bounty of blessings even if those blessings sometimes take on the most peculiar of disguises. Here are a few…
Over the years, it has become evident that there are many things that my husband and I will NEVER agree on. Utilizing cutlery to eat hamburgers, for example, is an absolute must in the eyes of my 'cultured' husband, but, from my standpoint, this is an unnecessary use of dishes.
Whenever burgers are on the menu, the following situation invariably unfolds: While he is out at the barbecue, I set the table sans forks and knives. We sit down to eat and he comments that there is no cutlery. I say, "Sandwiches don't require cutlery," while he goes to retrieve some. He presents each family member with a fork and knife, which I ignore, which then causes our children to steal sideways glances at each other unsure of how to proceed.
On the subject of eating burgers with forks and knives, we do not agree, we will never agree, and I fully expect this exact scenario to play out again when our friends come for a barbecue next Saturday. The untold blessing underneath it all is that after 10 years of marriage, it has become clear that this will not end us.
I never understand why people cite this as a bad thing. I can only assume that in the context of marriage, the implication is that you have become pragmatic partners who have lost the “lovers spark,” but I’m telling you if you want to see the sparks fly between me and my current “good room mate,” join us on a Tuesday night.
On Tuesdays, our 3 kids have 3 different activities in 3 different corners of the city which, of course, requires an elaborate system of drop-offs, pick-ups, and wardrobe changes with a side of supper + homework + baths. Executing these tasks within the span of 3 hours requires teamwork, grit, and the ability to put out an OMG-there’s-a-hole-in-my-dance-tights fire with exacting precision and speed. My husband has these qualities in spades making it possible for me to then dash off to my yoga class at 7 PM, so you’d better believe that when I return home to a clean house full of sleeping children at 8:30, there’s going to be some serious downward dog action!
Speaking of action, say what you will about my husband, but when we the close bedroom door behind us, he knows where all my buttons are and how to push them JUST right! This kind of skill can only come from years of practice and first-hand experience between the sheets.
Sure, a new lover has its perks, but there’s a little something-something extra with someone you have known and loved for a long period of time—someone who has seen you lose your shit when the garburator eats the lid off your favourite water bottle but who wants to tear off your clothes anyway, someone who’s shared your deepest intimacies, and someone with whom you are so comfortable that you’d never shy away from expressing your needs.
People often liken getting to know someone’s character to the “peeling back of layers” as you would an onion. In my relationship, I’m happy to say that the unveiling of these layers has revealed a man of sound integrity and character with only the odd spot of festering decay.
There are no guarantees in this process. One might reveal any number of unpleasant surprises ranging from weird idiosyncrasies to sociopathic tendencies to interfering in-laws. One thing for sure: this is not a process I would look forward to repeating with anyone else anytime soon. The beauty of it all lies in choosing to love each other no matter what we find.
Even though he may be an onion, he is my onion - for better or worse.
Conflict is not unique to long-term relationships, nor is it a blessing in itself, but fighting fair and for productive gain is a legit skill that has improved the quality of our relationship over time. In the beginning, every bump in the road seemed so deeply personal and seemed to threaten the entire future of our relationship. Now conflict is a chance to switch up household responsibilities, rework an unhealthy relationship pattern, or drive home the notion that I really do know best.
Safe to say, both parties are better off for the ways conflict has evolved our relationship over time.
Wishing all couples plodding away at this crazy thing we call long-term monogamy the very best of luck on your journey. Don’t forget to count your blessings from time to time.