This April Eric and I are celebrating 5 years together! (Ok, yeah there was a 4-month period in there when we were broken up, I'll address that....). I say "this April", and not the date, because we don't actually know what day our anniversary is... we both forgot. Oops. 😬 Then after the break up/getting back together, we didn't know if we should use that new day in September as our official anniversary or stick with April... have you guys seen that episode of How I Met Your Mother when they debate if the clock on a relationship hits pause or resets after a breakup? Long story short, we decided that the clock hit pause, and we stuck with our original month of April. So for simplicity's sake, I'm just going to say our anniversary is today 💕 Mostly because I'm hitting publish on this post today, and we're getting Cheesecake Factory tonight. Eric, you're picking me up at 7, right?
Today I want to talk about my outlook on relationships, and why I believe Eric and I have such a healthy one. I feel obligated to include a mini disclaimer here. These are my opinions, and nothing more than that. I am by no means a relationship expert, I have no formal education in this area, and if I speak ill against something that is working for you and your relationship, then ignore me! Alright, now that we got that out of the way...
I believe a relationship can survive almost anything (ie: distance, cheating, a break up, tragedy, etc.), EXCEPT disrespect. If even one partner in the relationship does not respect the other (or themselves), I think it's only a matter of time before that relationship ends.
When talking to friends or peers about struggles in their relationship, or thinking about why couples I've known have broken up, it seems to always come back to this. I truly believe that everything stems from respecting one another.
- Putting an ultimatum on the relationship? You don't respect your partner's timing.
- Saying something you know you can't take back? You don't respect their feelings.
- Reading your partners texts and messages? You don't respect their privacy.
- Feeling the need to always be right? You don't respect their perspective.
- Constantly arguing about finances? You don't respect your partner's ability.
- Nagging, complaining, or taking out your bad mood on them. You don't respect your partner's dignity.
- Being needy, clingy, jealous, or using sex to get what you want? You don't respect yourself.
Of course, there are shades of gray with all of these. For example, if you're constantly fighting about finances with your partner, it could just be stress associated with a recent lay-off or difficult time period, but if those arguments are centered around you judging how your partner wants to spend their money, or that they are not making enough, this could signal a deeper issue of you not respecting how they want to enjoy what they've worked for, or their ability to contribute. I want to be clear here that I'm not saying you have to settle and just let things go. If your financial situation with your partner (or anything else!) is bothering you, by all means, sit down and have a mature discussion about how you two can work as a team to set up a system that works for you. However, if all you do to one another is place blame, it's not going to work in the long run. Inevitably, one of you will end up feeling disrespected by the other not trusting you with the financial decisions, and grow to be resentful, in turn, losing respect for your partner, or vice versa. Again, this is just one example, and in each of these cases I don't think things are always black and white!
I know this post is so different from anything else I've shared on this blog, but this subject has been on my mind a lot lately. Looking back on my 5 years with Eric and thinking how we were able to navigate successfully getting back together after a break up, I think I can confidently say it has all come down to our mutual respect more than anything else. Of course we love each other and are best friends too, but everyone can acknowledge that you're not going to feel madly in love with your partner every second of every day. In those times when you're frustrated, what's keeping you from taking it out on your partner or saying something you know you can't undo? RESPECT. Communication is important too, but in my opinion, being able to communicate effectively stems from whether or not you respect your partner and yourself. I really believe everything comes back to this.
Alright, this is getting pretty long-winded so I'll wrap it up with this bible verse about respect, and a challenge for you. If you are struggling in a relationship right now, I implore you to ask yourself if you truly respect your partner, if they respect you, and if you two support each other in acheiving self-respect? If not, I encourage you both to look at how you can improve in this area, because it really is the foundation on which everything else that's great in a relationship can be built upon.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.