What Makes A Relationship Work?

Today marks 15 years since Hubby and I decided to start dating. 15 years! And although two weeks later, he left for basic training, and then on to 4 years long distance, Hubby and I made a decision that day that obviously lasted a lifetime. Was it hard? Absolutely. Does it still have its struggles? Yes. Was it worth it? No doubt.

And we were young. Barely nineteen when we made this decision and looking back, we did not have a sweet clue what we were doing. However, many years later, the question that most people tend to ask us, is how we did it? How did we make it through a long distance relationship for years on end? How did we make it through a tour of Afghanistan and the subsequent PTSD injury? How did we make it through Hubby’s struggle with addictions and into sobriety? And how did we make it through three degrees, multiple jobs and moving to three different provinces apart and then together? Well, the answer is, hell if I know.

I can be cliché here and just say it was love. Period. And of course that is part of it. We just straight up love each other. No expectations, no requirements, completely unconditionally. And, we also are stubborn as hell so I do suspect some of it is just straight up too pigheaded to give up. But, I think there are some things that we learned over the years that helps us, and maybe you, make it last.

  1. Communication. Now, it is communicating when things are going bad in an honest and open way without worrying about hurting each other feelings. You sometimes need to get hurt in order to make a long-lasting change. But, it is also about communicating with each other when things are going well too. It is about acknowledging and appreciating each other and it is telling each other what you love which helps you get through those times that are quite so hard.
  2. Quality Time. Hubby and I have very little in common when it comes to our interests, but we intentionally try to do things that both of us, or one of us, likes when having quality time. This can be big things like trips away, or date nights, but it can also be as simple as eating supper together. At the table. With no phone or TV. So that we chat about our days and how we are doing. That one hour of quality time can be enough to sustain us through the week.
  3. Fight. Obviously don’t fight all the time because that is not healthy, but in order for you to move past your insecurities, or resentments, or frustrations you have to fight it out. I will call Hubby on his crap when he is being a dick and he will call me out when I am being an asshole. We need that sometimes. We need someone who loves you regardless tell you when you are being a pain in the ass and then you can move past it. It is not normal to co-reside with someone full time and not get annoyed sometimes. Suppressing those annoyances make them bigger than they need to be.
  4. Understand your different personality traits. I am social, but I also need my alone time. Hubby is the opposite. It can be challenging at times, but we have also figured out a way to balance that out in each other. It is about learning that by my saying that I need time alone, Hubby knows it has nothing to do with him. By giving me my alone time, I have the space to engage in his social time that he needs as well. It is about compromising and balancing for what both of us may need. It is also about adjusting it accordingly based on what is happening in our lives at that time.
  5. Loyalty. I am not just talking about the loyalty of not cheating or treating each other with respect and dignity but the loyalty that goes with loving someone unconditionally. People make bad choices, mistakes and will screw up from time to time. It is inevitable. But Hubby and I actively try to work on seeing past that. Even when things are really bad, or choices are going sideways, we both know who we are at our core. It is that core level that allows us to see past the bullshit and know that the person we love is still in there somewhere, even when it is hard to see sometimes.

Now, is this list exhaustive? No. Will there be more challenges and things that make us second guess ourselves and our relationship in the future? For sure. Are there things that we need to continue to work on? Always. Right now, it is rebuilding intimacy for us because of the last 15 years. They have been hard and emotionally draining. They have questioned who we are as people and as a couple. But they have also shown us that we are solid. We got this. And that we know that we can only continue to do what we are doing in order to be able to celebrate another big milestone like we are today.

We have been together just under half our lives at this point and have really grown up together. Fifteen years is a hell of a long time, but we as a couple have lived through things that couples who have been together over thirty years have not experienced. And that in itself is pretty damn powerful.

“Love is not “if” or “because.” Love is “anyway” and “even though” and “in spite of.”

– Anonymous

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