Per the Weekly Writing Challenge, I’v spent a good deal of time thinking over the last 11.75 months. What did I accomplish? What did I leave unfinished? What have I not started? The list gets longer as I move through the questions. One constant of this year, however, has been my relationship with my fiance. So, in memory of love, relationships, and everything (anti?)romantic, I offer 5 lessons I have learned about relationships in 2012.
In Part 1, I talked about giving one another space during arguments, as well as supporting your partner, even if the current situation is not ideal for dream-catching. In this episode, I will touch on interests, forgiveness, and (a different kind of) support.
3. Be Together, not Conjoined.
I am, most of the time, an introvert; I get shy around new people or find myself at odds in new situations. When I began my current job, I hardly spoke to anyone, unless it was related to the work-at-hand — for four months. A large part of this is “people watching,” while a larger part is that I want to know how to relate to people before I shove my foot down my throat; I need to know that when I make a joke, it is acceptable, for example. Alcohol, of course, negates this shyness, though at a detriment to my impression on others (they find me aloof, emotive, or downright intolerable, with very few finding me delightful). In all honesty, I try to save the alcohol-induced me for very close friends.
Conjoined twin tomato (Photo credit: K.Wiklund)
My fiance, on the other hand, is a 100% bona fide, Grade-A++ extrovert. The first time I took her to my hometown, she talked to more people at the local oasis than I did; became friends with people I never got along with, or them with me; and knew none of them beforehand. To her credit, she refused several attempts by others to take her “off my hands.” She is unafraid of putting herself into the fray of society, and rests fully on the belief that if someone finds her disdainful, then that person can go @#$^ themselves. This is a result of her strong will, above average self-esteem, and education in a school of hard knocks that is several grades above mine.
But, to the point: we both have interests that do not interest each other. I like to read, view an art gallery, write blog posts about how I perceive my life (and the thoughts I have on that life). She likes to dance with her friends, sing karaoke, meet people she’ll never meet again (usually while singing and dancing somewhere she’s never been, with no intention of returning). I don’t ask her to critique my writing, or share a book, or give her insights on the latest work by David Carson (I have my own network for that). On the same note, she doesn’t ask me to stand in front of a crowd and croon the lyrics to “Purple Rain,” or pretend I know all of her friends that grew up in the OhioValley, or give my advice on the best acoustics/space ratio for a “Just Dance (3? 4?)” party.
We don’t drag each other to our special little things (despite what Number 2 might suggest)., because our distinct interests are not our interests. We have mutual interests — romantic comedies and horror films, tastes in music, a day trip outdoors — but there are things we know the other will not enjoy (not mention we don’t want the buzz kill). We are together as one unit, but we are also a couple (of different people).
4. Forgive Daily (Even if Forgetting is Off the Table).
As I stated before, my fiance and I bicker, a lot. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes we’re just plain irritated with one another’s presence; I mean, you can’t enjoy someone’s company all of the time, can you? But, for the most part — unless the arguing gets really intense — we always share a bed at night. I’m a firm believer in the notion of not going to sleep angry. I toss and turn; I stew and try to think of ways to keep her awake (so I can prove or reprove my point); I generally ruin a good night’s rest for both of us. Of course, experience has taught me that is sometimes easier said than done. Sometimes, one of us is, to be blunt, pissed to the core. We are also wore out from the day, run down from the emotional release of an argument, and ready to put it past us (because we always win in our dreams).
But — no matter how hurt or angry or vengeful we might feel — there is always one thing we say to one another before closing our eyes: “I love you.” And in the end, that’s what we have to remember. Despite our disagreements and sometimes juvenile conflicts, we are only human, full of pride and prone to mistakes. Somehow, the resentment and need to argue is gone when we wake up, and we wipe the previous day’s slate clean (primed to fill it up with a brand new list of annoyances and counterpoints).
5. Stand Up for Each Other, No Matter What (or Why).
I’m sure everyone is familiar with a movie or television scene in which a couple is at each other’s throats. The scene is usually a public sphere: a dinner party, holidays with the family, etc. Insults and vulgarities abound, as well as the comic gesticulations that make us laugh at the absurdity of the argument unfolding before us. You wonder why this couple is still together, even how they might have gotten together in the first place. And then, somebody unrelated to the incident slings an insult at one of the quarreling lovers, and the two suddenly unite against a common foe. In a matter of seconds, it’s not about the argument anymore; it’s about someone else disrespecting my partner. I think the line of reasoning goes something like this: “Only I can call him/her a selfish bastard/bitch!”
My fiance and I don’t always get along, but let someone else attack one of us, and PHOOSPAH! you’d better be wearing your helmet. We don’t let others bring us down, and believe me when I say, there’s been quite a number of people that think I’m too good for her (or vice versa). At the end of the day, our troubles are our troubles; we don’t need other’s fighting our battles for us, or disrespecting us (individually or as a unit).