I’m not an expert at relationships. Not by a long shot.
I would simply like to share my thoughts on relationships based on my own personal experience.
My relationship with my partner is not always beer and skittles. In fact we have engaged in plenty of high noon duels. On a number of occasions we have angrily stared at each other from afar on the main street of our Wild West town, each of us carrying a six gun in our holster, an occasional stray tumbleweed rolling past in the background. We do always eventually break the impasse, but never before significant fire power has been exchanged.
Occasionally we need to set things straight again, to allow that cool westerly breeze in to restore harmony to our Wild West town.
I’ve had to fight to survive so far in my life and there are some things I will fight for if I need to. My partner and I do communicate our way to a resolution, but he knows that I am as immovable as a lump of stone when I feel strongly about something. Luckily so far we have always been able to accommodate what I feel strongly about, as well as what he feels strongly about. He is also a strong willed individual and an extremely well-defined character, so the two of us will always have to resolve at least occasional conflicts.
In any case I like the fact that both of us are independent strong people, as I don’t want a door mat and neither does he. I already have a perfectly good door mat outside the front door that works perfectly well.
After 11 years in a relationship I have come to believe that romantic relationships really are sometimes a battle field as well as a loving synergy between two people.
This is because any relationship between individuals has to be able to weather conflict as well as peace and agreement. The long term survival of the relationship in fact hinges upon how the two individuals within it manage conflict. Anyone can handle easy agreement, but handling a battle of wills (or a battle of anything) takes effort and skill.
When I entered my relationship I had very poor conflict management skills. Over time I’ve had to learn to approach our differences in a better way. I’ve had to learn to focus more on reaching a mutually acceptable outcome rather than whatever it is I’m hearing that I don’t particularly like. I’ve had to learn to talk about the behaviours I don’t like in a way that separates them from the person, because all I want is a different behaviour for the situation, I don’t want a different person.
Luckily I am a woman and like most women, I’m happy to talk. If I’m not happy about something and I want it to change I am more than happy to let someone know about it, right this minute. If he doesn’t seem to be getting the message I am happy to clarify and add examples until he does. I have an unlimited store of verbal energy that I can easily draw upon when I want something to improve.
While my store of verbal energy completely astounds my partner, (and would probably astound most people), my ability to communicate has helped me to get the kind of outcomes I want in my relationship and my life. As a result I am immensely glad of it. Being able to verbally communicate (including being able to listen to other people) is one of the most valuable skills I have.
It is especially important because the initial hot romance or “hearts and flowers” stage of any relationship never lasts. In my opinion there is in fact no possible way that it can. This is because during the hot romance phase of the relationship both people really don’t know each other very well at all, and everything is remarkably easy only because it is all still remarkably superficial.
The process of getting to know the other person always reveals that the other person does indeed have at least some baggage, and because they are in fact a human being, faults as well as strengths. Conflicts of will/opinion/perception/belief will arise, and both individuals will have to deal with them. Communication skills will be drawn upon.
You will be required to learn, because every relationship in your life is also a life experience that is there to teach you a lesson or two.
I have most definitely had to learn a thing or two over the course of my relationship so far, and no doubt there is still plenty more to learn. There have been lots of good times, and it is true that sometimes it is all happy conversation, laughter and jovial agreement. However I have had to handle some conflict, and I think it is important to make this point because the media all too often pretends that romantic relationships are a lifetime of continuous ecstasy.
Don’t get me wrong, neither me nor my de facto have ever even come close to lying in a pool of our own blood with a kitchen knife stuck in our chest. I’m not even a violent person, but I am a strong willed person, and personally I’d rather know the whole story on romantic relationships rather than just hear about the easy parts.
© Annemaree Jensen 2017