If only relationships could be as seamless as the image social media helps portray—-the cute videos of dad playing with the kids or the amazingly filtered pictures of mommy and daddy showing off a little PDA while having a night out—like that ever happens, the family enjoying a weekend getaway or even the occasional #mcm or #wcw post. The reality is you only see as deep as that post lets you see, give or take a mildly vague caption to remind the significant other of their love and devotion.
And guess what? I’m guilty of it—-I think many of us are.
It’s obviously much easier to post of joyful moments, of love and affection, showing the world just how lucky you are to have someone who shares your world. But to tell you the truth: I can be an ogre sometimes, like a Shrek on steroids kind of ogre. And just the same, Jarred can be a 12-year old jackass. We’re both headstrong, with type A personalities. Mix in lack of sleep, mental exhaustion, demanding children, stress from work and all the other craziness life throws our way, and you’ve got two adults who love each other, but are willing to skin each other alive if they so much breath wrong. It’s not always sunshine and roses in this household, but we love and support each other to death.
And the reality about relationships—one that we don’t usually expect—is that things won’t always be PERFECT, much less your significant other. We set high expectations, unrealistic standards, not talk about our issues and wonder what the hell we are doing wrong. Don’t be fooled into thinking that love is supposed to be easy. It’s not. The truth is, none of us are easy to deal with, let alone please all the time. The perfect person does not exist. Love is seeing the darkest sides in the other and defying the impulse to jump ship.
It’s been four years since Jarred and I met on Tinder and we’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum—I don’t think I could ever call our relationship boring. It’s been really effing hard, but it’s also been amazing. It’s been four years of surrender, vulnerability and growth: the first year a whirlwind, the second a revival, the third a relief and this fourth year, has been a realization.
“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The first year of our relationship cannot be described with any word other than intense. I swiped right to a picture of a hot shirtless bearded man covered in tattoos, never imagining that someone so different from me, would swipe right too. The relationship moved rather quickly, and I think because we rushed, we later found ourselves dealing with the serious obstacles of fear of commitment and loyalty.
We discovered truths about ourselves and each other that were hard to unveil. And we did so little by little as we dealt with a custody battle, moving in together, learning to parent as a couple and dealing with jobs we hated. Our foundation was not strong enough to withstand the overwhelming pressure. Soon, the fog of the intense chemistry that we once felt was cleared by a painful circumstance brought on by the reality of our imperfections.
And I think this is where most relationships come to an end: when you see the darkest side of the other—when that veil slips off and you see all your partners faults in full view, with no obstructions. Their image is suddenly tainted and that standard you once held for that person has been proven false.
I experienced both sides of the coin in my previous relationship, as the victim and the culprit, but this time around I knew what I wanted. And what I wanted was to build a life with Jarred. I had seen his darkest sides and I understood the scars, the faults and the confusion about our relationship—I was once that person in the past.
“Love has a powerful way of removing the mask we all insist on wearing.”
Once we chose to understand—and forgive—we let go of the past and moved forward with a relationship in acceptance of who we really are. It was only then that we were able to build a stable foundation and establish the trust needed to rely on one another. There’s no sugar coating it—the recovery was a difficult journey. But what a difference it was to love each other in the lowest of lows. Because we almost lost each other, we learned to truly appreciate the connection we had.
At first it was awkward. There was uncertainty in both of us: Will this happen again? Can we really move past this? Will this always come up in the future? Will we pay for this mistake forever?
We took it day by day. We learned to talk to each like lovers again, we provided each other with reassurance, we took the time to talk—really talk—and listen to one another, and we worked on ourselves as individuals. And soon enough, we began reviving that fire we once had when we met, before all the pressures took over and inundated us with fear. Once that intimacy returned, so did the trust. WE did what WE had to do to prove to one another that WE were in this for good.
What was so wonderful about the revival of our relationship was that everything in our lives made a turn for the better soon after. Jarred’s position at work improved, I found a new job, our battles in court had positive outcomes for us, we were learning to live and parent together effortlessly and everything seemed to work itself out.
I think when we are immersed in dark times, it seems as though we are drowning and there’s no way we can ever come up to the surface again. I’ve learned that if you really love someone and you’ve committed yourself to that person, you will always find your way back to breathe again, no matter how much you must fight. And there will always be dark times because life isn’t seamless. Reality isn’t easy. But you grow together and after you face these dark times, that wave of relief will always come.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.“ – Rabindranath Tagore
Our relationship was different; we were different. We matured as a couple and as individuals because we overcame a hardship meant to break us. The revival wasn’t temporary and so, we found ourselves in a state of relief: we weren’t going to lose each other, and we can really make this work.
As we rebuilt our relationship, we became each other’s refuge. We supported one another’s goals and with trust restored in our relationship, we gave each other the space we needed to be individuals without doubting the other. But we always knew that we’d have each other’s back when we needed it.
I always said I wanted a relationship with someone I could grow with. In my mind, I only ever focused on financial and professional means. This idea that I would have to mature with someone and figure life out with, was never a focus. And I think because we idealize relationships, we tend to turn the blind eye on all the dirty work you must do to make it work for the long-term.
No, you shouldn’t have to change a man/woman. But as a couple, you help each other grow. You help them learn from their mistakes, think in a different way, show them a different perspective and all the amazing things REAL LOVE can do.
And when we thought we had reached a pinnacle in our relationship, we were thrown into a whole different kind of loop: we were going to have a baby.
“A lover doesn’t discourage your growth. A lover says, ‘I see who you are today, I cannot wait to see who you become tomorrow.’” – Donte Collins
I found peace in Jarred.
Throughout my pregnancy and even my normal state of mind, my brain just works overtime, thoughts racing at 200 mph non-stop, affecting my way of speaking, behaving and reacting. I commend the man for his patience and his ability to slow me down. He has opened my eyes to myself and has helped me understand things from my past that affect my present.
Having a baby tested our relationship in a different way. There were days that I knew I was unbearable because I was breastfeeding round the clock, working and trying to be my best for Emma. There was little to no time for Jarred and the pressure started to run us down.
Thank goodness, he’s the communicator in our relationship. I have never been the type of person to show my feelings, much less talk about them, whether they were good or bad—I just walk away. And I think we survived the difficult side of having a child because he forced me to open up and help him understand what I was feeling and what he can do to help me.
He has never closed off from me just because I’ve never been able to communicate. I’m grateful for it and I realize how sure I am of us every time he doesn’t let me walk away. For the first time in my life, I can be vulnerable and defenseless without it being held against me—one of the many reasons he has my heart.
The One Certainty
We will always love each other.
No matter the ups or down. No matter how annoying or difficult we can be. Whether there’s a ring on my finger or not.
And that’s something you must never forget when you are going through difficult times in your relationship. Remind yourself of all the reasons you love one another and appreciate all the things you’ve overcome; how much you’ve grown together. After all, no matter how much you’d like to point fingers at the other, there will ALWAYS be a lot of growing you have to do as an individual.