Four Things I’ve Learned about Love in Four Years

Four Things I’ve Learned about Love in Four Years

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.

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Valentine’s Day Approaches

Valentine’s Day Approaches

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. It’s also an anniversary for Ben and me: the anniversary of our first kiss. (I know, I know, cue retching noises. The day and the event were not intentionally synced.) Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019, will be Ben and my four-year anniversary. Four years! We met when we were teenagers and got together a few months later. I’ve known him four years now. Sometimes it feels like it’s been forever, and sometimes it feels like it’s been four weeks.

Love is interesting. I love that Ursula Le Guin quote, “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” I think that is an excellent explanation for why I feel like I have known and loved Ben forever and sometimes it feels my knowledge of and love for him was born only yesterday. It’s because it is born, and it grows, and it weakens, and it heals, and it thrives, and it weakens again, and it dies, and it is reborn again. It’s not a perfectly circular cycle; more often than not, stages skip or repeat. It is nothing if not unpredictable.

Love changes with time, with experience, with knowledge. Love changes because people change. Change is the only truly inevitable thing in life, besides death. People learn, people grow, people age, people gain experience. Hopefully, when people do change – and they always do, no matter how monumentally or infinitesimally – they change in a way that complements their chosen partner.

I also believe that love is a choice. Falling in love isn’t; falling in love is emotions, selfishness, adrenaline. It is, for most people, effortless and unconscious. But, loving someone is a choice. Loving someone is choosing them over every other possible match. Loving someone is putting them and their needs first. Love is putting in effort to make things work.

So, whether you’re in love or loving or both, this Valentine’s day, remember that the most important thing is making the person you love, romantically or platonically etc., feel loved and appreciated. That’s all any of us ever really want, anyway. And to Ben – I love you endlessly.

Anniversary Dinner – Pinterest Style

Anniversary Dinner – Pinterest Style

The picture you see above is the finished result of our belated third anniversary dinner. I decided, since it was cold and rainy on the one night we could do it, to have an indoor picnic in the tiny bedroom that I share with my little dog in the four-bedroom apartment I share with three other women, two other dogs, and a cat. My little bedroom was really the only space we could use for any privacy.

All you need to duplicate this is you or your significant other’s favorite recipe (the one that you can stand), a few things from the dollar store and cheap section at Target, and lots of love. (I know, I know, cue retching noise.)

The things I got from the dollar store are: tea lights, a plastic tablecloth, and wine glasses. The things from the cheap section of Target are: a bunch of fake roses in a glass vase, a short string of battery-powered lights, and more candles. Because I am a college student, I also didn’t have wine glasses, so those were procured at the dollar store as well.

I made the boyfriend’s favorite dish: chicken parmesan, or a variation thereof. I made the sauce myself, using no recipe at all, just prior knowledge from watching my mother and grandparents make endless batches of sauce. After heating the olive oil in a saucepan, I seasoned it with garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil, and added the onions. Then the canned tomatoes were poured in, and I crushed them with a wooden spoon in the pan. Unfortunately the tomatoes, being whole, had seeds, but this was overlooked during consumption. A splash of red wine, and I let it stew for a while on low heat.

The boyfriend helped with the chicken and the salad like the decent adult he is. I forgot the flour step of the breading and had him dip the chicken in egg, then Panko breadcrumbs. The chicken cooked in a pan for about five minutes, then was placed on a baking sheet, drizzled with sauce, and covered in mozzarella. He slid it into the oven, set at 350 degrees, until the coating was golden under the white and the red of the cheese and the sauce.

The pasta being boiled and the salad made (nothing special, just a lettuce mix, cherry tomatoes, and diced apples, dressed with honey and apple cider vinegar), dinner was ready. Beverages were red wine for me, beer for the boyfriend – while I love wine and dislike beer, he’s a beer drinker to the core.

I had spread the red plastic tablecloth on the floor, and the boyfriend helped me move my trunk to serve as table to the center of it. I draped the battery-powered lights across the trunk, lit the candles, and we brought in the food. It was romantic with candlelight and delicious, especially so since we made the meal together.

Please feel free to like, comment, share, and replicate!