I was a perennially single person for most of the first 35 years of my life, until I met the person who is now my fiancé. As the two-year anniversary of our first date approaches, I have been thinking a lot about our relationship and how it has evolved. I am constantly amazed at how different our experience has been from what the storybooks and the movies would have us believe constitutes romance, and I am even more struck by how much better our real-life romance has been than that fairy tale version.
In the fairy tale version, we only see the good parts, which usually are at the beginning when everyone is still euphoric and the hormones are running high. Although the early euphoric moments have their place, they are relatively unencumbered by that mixture of all the good and bad stuff that we typically call “real life.” A deep and enduring partnership cannot be made of euphoric moments alone because it needs time, and the challenges brought by time, to develop and find its richness.
Goodness knows my fiancé and I have had our challenges. I always had this idea in my head that I was an independent woman who was “meant to be alone,” so the fact that we even made it past the three-month mark was a real milestone. In persevering through life together these past two years, we have learned each others’ insecurities and foibles (and believe me, we each have our share!), and we also have trudged together through at least three things that squarely qualify as “major life changes.”
That my fiancé and I are still together sometimes strikes me as miraculous, because there are so many times during the last two years when it would have been very easy to give up. I particularly think that it would have been easy for him to give up, because at moments I have been just a hair’s breadth from completely unbearable. Yet we have managed through all our difficult moments to forge a stronger bond and make a wonderful life together. I think this is because we genuinely respect and listen to one another, we give one another opportunities to grow, we bring out the best in one another, and we are committed to staying together in a way that feels good to us both. Plus, at the end of a long day, when we relax into being ourselves, we find that it is simply and pleasingly good to be together. After 13 years of living happily alone and thinking that I would never share space with anyone again, I now cannot imagine being without this wonderful person who has willingly signed up to navigate the crazy waters of life with me.
It really is a splendid thing to love and to be loved in return, and it just keeps getting better all the time. That’s the part that the fairy tales don’t tell you about. Thank you, J, for staying with me. I love you and I hope that we are together for a long, long time to come.
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