As part of my refresh, I made the decision to move from only book content to delving into other areas of life as well. I decided early on that I wanted to talk more about real life, and a big part of that—in my life at least—is relationships. Every Friday I’ll be posting relationship-centered content, whether it be date night ideas, or advice for navigating your relationship, and everything in between!
A little background: in a little over a month, I’ll be getting married to my best friend and soulmate. We’ve been together for just about five years—our wedding date is actually our five-year anniversary, which is why when we were forced to reschedule our reception we decided to keep our original date for a small ceremony. But the thing is, up until last month when I moved to Maryland, Ricky and I were a long-distance couple. He lived in Maryland, I lived in Rhode Island, and we’d see each other a few times a year. Most of our relationship took place on FaceTime, which sucked, but we made it work.
Let me tell you a secret: in nearly five years, we have never had a fight.
Sure, the distance probably had something to do with it—we’re never in each other’s hair, and being far away from someone makes it much easier to walk away and cool off than if you’re living in the same quarters.
But we’ve never even had to do that.
When I mention to friends that we’ve never had a fight, they’re shocked. Most people come back with, “Well, just wait until you live together!” Even on social media, I see this glorification of bickering, arguing, and fighting in a relationship. I want no part in that.
See, my parents got divorced when I was 10. Before that, there was a lot of fighting in my house. I grew up around screaming matches, hair brushes flying across the room, doors slamming, the whole nine. And I made a promise to myself at a very young age that I would never experience that again. I never even planned to get married. Most girls spend hours fantasizing about their dream wedding at a young age; I spent hours fantasizing about how I would stand up for myself if my significant other ever turned out to be like my dad. Growing up like that really affects a person, so when I met Ricky and things began to get serious, I laid it all out for him. These are my expectations. This is what I want, and this is what I don’t want. I am not settling for less.
And he’s delivered. Ever since Day One, he’s delivered. I’m an incredibly lucky woman.
But that’s not to say that the reason we never fight is because I shared my childhood trauma early on and asked him not to traumatize me anymore—avoiding arguments is an ongoing process that we both need to work at every day.
Communication is everything in a relationship.
This, coming from a person with such crippling anxiety I struggle to ask for a napkin in the drive-thru sometimes. But seriously, the best thing you and your significant other can do for your relationship is to establish an open line of communication. If you can’t be comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with a person, you should not be comfortable sharing your bed with them every night.
If something they do bothers or upsets you, you need to tell them right away. If it festers, then chances are by the time you open up, it’ll be an explosion. And on the flip side, when they tell you something bothers them, you have to be open to hearing them out. Don’t be a gaslighter. Your relationship should be a safe space where nothing is off the table—for both of you.
Even if nothing is wrong, per se, it’s good to talk about things regularly. For a while, I was really struggling with my anxiety and depression. Even the most simple tasks left me paralyzed in fear and hopeless, and it seemed like every little thing bothered me. So, Ricky would let me vent, and he would listen fully. Even though nothing he had done or failed to do caused these feelings in me, he let me come to him for some relief. Your significant other should not be your therapist all the time—because that’s not healthy either—but they should be someone you can come to for support on anything.
All this is not to say that you two should always agree on everything—that’s not how humans work. You’re still your own person, just as they are still their own person. You’re bound to have differing opinions on some things, but those differing opinions shouldn’t turn into a fight.
I saw a tweet recently that said relationships that never argue are stagnant and unfulfilling—and I wholeheartedly disagree. I think part of the problem is that we’re all so programmed to think that any disagreement is an attack. This is just not the case. This kind of thinking is what blows things out of proportion and turns a small instance of not seeing eye to eye into a full-fledged battle. You need to be able to talk about your disagreements and come to a mutual understanding before it turns into something bigger.
Of course, some things are non-negotiable. For me, I have very strong opinions on just about everything. I have very strong feelings about politics and religion in particular, and although Ricky’s views don’t perfectly align with my own, they’re not so different that it’s a dealbreaker. And vice versa; sometimes I can get out of hand, and though he may tell me to tone it down a bit, he accepts that these are my views and they’re not going to change. Because we’ve had these conversations and we’ve taken the time to learn each others’ reasoning behind our views, we’re able to find common ground. You don’t have to agree 100%–you just have to be able to accept your differences. If those differences are too great to get past, then maybe it’s time to reconsider the relationship as a whole.
Sometimes arguments will break out. I’m sure of it—we’ve only been living together for one month, and although we’re off to a good start, I know it’s next to impossible to go a lifetime without an argument.
But that’s okay.
Because as long as you’ve established that line of communication, and the trust that comes with it, you’ll know that no fight will last for long. You’ve got the tools to get through it; the communication skills, the trust, the understanding, and more importantly, the love. Isn’t that what makes a relationship successful, after all?