"You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly."
- Sam Keen
To say that I grew up in a traditional family would be inaccurate. I grew up with a mommy, daddy, sister, dog and cat all living in one household. We sure didn't step out of 'Leave it to Beaver' though! We fought, tore each other's hair out, laughed and cried. There were times I hated my mom, resented my sister, cried cause I thought my daddy was mad at me. There were times when my mom was the first person I ran to with a scraped knee, my sister was the reason I had to go beat up that boy who made her cry, and my dad was the one who dealt with the boy who had made ME cry. There were issues in my relationships with my parents that took me halfway across the world, but at the end of the day, the only reason I came back at all was the love I had for, and felt from, my family. My mother and father did not have a perfect relationship. What, to my eyes, made their relationship so special was that they stuck together through thick and thin and they always supported each other.
Mark and I have raised eye brows at the fact that we are still together. We do not have a perfect relationship, because we are not perfect people. I have my own issues I have to deal with and he does as well. One plus one, does not equal one, contrary to what many people seem to think. We are learning how to be an individual so that we can know how to be a couple.
Earlier today, I was doing research on aspects that most successful relationships have. It gave the ten most important to the survival of a relationship, and I know for a fact that I have eight out of those ten in my relationship! This was exactly what I was looking for, but did not impact me the way I had thought it would. I expected to feel a little lost and worried after reading it. Instead I feel reassured and content.
1- Friendship. Mark and I spent an entire month just trying to get to know each other, before he manned up and asked me properly, if I would like to go out with him. We had a strong attraction to each other right away, but we did not just jump right into a relationship. In the year and a half since, we have spent time getting to know each others families, history and friends. Mark and I have told each other things, without judgement or repulsion that we would not tell (almost) anyone else.
2- Humor. For me, this is another sign of friendship. I am not very good at this, but he is absolutely wonderful at it. Sometimes too much so (using it to deflect).
3- Communication. Without pushing, we try very hard to communicate with each other. We do not communicate in the way that we necessarily should all of the time- so many years spent hiding and keeping and locking things away, but it is something we have tried to be honest with.
4- Chore sharing. Mark hates laundry and I hate dishes. We both hate a dirty living room but he hates to sweep or vacuum and I dislike dusting.
5- Sexual Intimacy. The description the website gave of this pointed out that this is something that also needs to be discussed and shared equally... I am choosing not to go into details here but this is probably our best example of successful communication between each other.
I'm halfway to the end of the list!
6- Affection: It points out that couples who stay in physical contact some way each day have appeared to have the happiest relationships. Not necessarily leading to physical intimacy but that even that leads you to realize your partner is thinking about you each day. We don't have issues here, MOST of the time. Mark has two different homes. Here and Toronto and unfortunately Toronto is all consuming and communication is nearly non existent when he is there.
7- No "Horsemen of the Apocalypse". Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. No description necessary here really. While we both struggle with the left over fears of this from our past relationships- friendships, romantic and family- we also know that we can trust each other not to commit these actions when we do try to communicate.
8- Mutual and Separate Friends. :) <-- This says it all. Exclusively mutual friends is dangerous.
9- Reliability. Mark and I are very different in this regard. We know that we are not equal here and this is the second issue we have in our relationship.
10- Relationship Vision. An idea of what you want and where you want to be, ten or twenty years. Tomorrow might be a mystery but hey if we know what we want in life, we can face the challenges that pop up in between here and there. Mark and I have a pretty decent vision which stems from our communication.
So what were the two we had issues with? Communication and Reliability. Probably the two most destructive but our communication will improve. Until these two do improve, however, we can't plan a wedding. So we have delayed (not removed or replaced) our vision for the future.