Today is Ben and my fourth anniversary. It’s funny; on the one hand, I almost can’t believe we didn’t just get together, because I’m still so crazy about him. On the other, it feels as though I’ve always known him, and when I didn’t, I was just waiting for him. (Not that my whole life was spent waiting for him, but a part of me was waiting.) Anyway, here are four things I’ve learned about love in these four years. I hope they help you in your journey, wherever you are.
Communication is non-negotiable.
I know, I know. It’s such a cliché: “communication is key.” But it is, it is absolutely non-negotiable. While it would be awesome to know automatically what your partner’s needs are, it’s not realistic. We’ve gotten pretty good at communicating, I think; we’ll make sure to bring things up before they become a huge thing that leads to a fight. This way, we have discussions and occasional disagreements, and not fights, whether small or knock-down, drag-out. You’re not a mindreader, and your partner isn’t either. Say what you want and need, as clearly as you can, and be sure to require the same.
Change is inevitable.
It always strikes me as amusing when someone asks me, “But how can you stay with one person for the rest of your life?” This question assumes that people are always exactly the same, that they don’t grow and change. While at their core your partner is not likely to change dramatically, their experiences and learning, with and without you, will lead them to become many different people during your lives. You’ll change, too, and that’s good! People should grow and learn and change. Hopefully, you’ll learn and grow and change together, or in ways that are complementary.
Love is work.
By “work,” I mean that it takes conscious effort. It takes effort to meet someone’s needs. Sometimes you can’t give 100%, and that’s okay. Sometimes one partner has to give a little more – 125%, while you give 75% – but, ideally, it will eventually even out. Don’t fall for the “love is 50%-50%” lie. Love requires 100% from each of you. Sometimes you or your partner gives more, but it always adds up to 200%, because there are two people giving their all.
You are complete.
You are already complete. You are a whole, wonderful person. You don’t need another human being to make you into a “complete” human being. For lack of a better example, if you’re single and murdered, your murderer is still charged for the extinguishing of the life of a whole and complete human being. Don’t consider yourself “incomplete” without another person. It’s unhealthy and dependent. You need to be your own person, so that you can fully and wholly enter into a union. Would you want to be in a relationship with half a person? Acknowledge that you are your own, complete, whole person, and you can more fully love someone else.
Of course, I’ve learned more than this in four years. But, I believe these are the four most important things I’ve learned these four years. I hope they’re helpful, or enlightening, or validating.
Happy anniversary, love.