Being in a relationship is a responsibility, but it shouldn’t be difficult if there are two people making an effort to make it work.
Dane and I have been together for 4 years.
We get along really well. We’re our own individuals and aren’t co-dependent, but we still look forward to speaking with each other every single night. It’s not to say that we don’t fight, but we rarely do, and it’s usually about things that can be easily solved.
Dane and I speak on the phone every single day unless one of us is too tired or needs “me time.” During the start of our relationship, Dane would often fall asleep while in a call with me. For him, it was because he wants to spend as much of his time with me but unfortunately he really just falls asleep. But for me, if I won’t be able to talk to you because you’re too sleepy, you might as well just snooze. This was a recurring concern for me early on as Dane almost always refused to just go to sleep even when he’s only half awake mid-convo. His favorite lines were “I’m not yet sleepy,” or “I can still stay up,” but only to fall asleep in the next 2 minutes. It took a while for him to adjust by simply telling me that he can’t stay up anymore.
Since then, we’ve grown so much as people and as a couple, and we’ve learned a thing or two about keeping our relationship as healthy as possible.
Choosing words carefully
They say communication is one of the strongholds in a good relationship.
But aside from keeping honest communications consistent, it’s also a lot about choosing the right words when doing so.
I realized early on in our relationship that both Dane and I are used to using I-statements to convey our feelings. I-statements or I-message focus on expressing one’s thoughts while reducing hostility regardless of intention. For example, saying “I feel stressed and need help,” instead of “You’re so unhelpful!”, or saying “I feel frustrated when my feelings aren’t heard,” instead of “You don’t care about my feelings.”
Starting with “I” helps us talk about our feelings and how it’s affecting us without blaming the other party which may lead to miscommunication. Doing so lets us vent and share our concerns, without making it seem like the other person is the problem. It keeps us more aware of the situation and reminds both of us that it’s us against the issue and not him versus me.
Stop keeping scores
Communicating is a deliberate choice to keep the relationship happy and healthy. Aside from taking it as a responsibility as the other half of a relationship, not keeping tabs on who does what more is important.
Even before Dane and I became a couple, he knew about my financial responsibilities in my family as the breadwinner. That means that a part of my income automatically goes to bills, and that will keep happening even after we’re married and have our own living expenses.
On the other hand, he’s an only child living with parents who both work. Because of that, Dane never hesitated to pay for our dates because he understands. But what’s more important is that he never uses it against me.
That’s just one of the many examples of the give-and-take in our relationship. It’s two people exerting a tiny bit more effort in specific situations to make the relationship work for both. All without keeping tabs on who does it more.
Honesty and trusting each other
I remember getting mad at him in the early months of our relationship because he didn’t tell me he didn’t go to work because he was sick and only admitted it later on. To him, it was so I didn’t worry about him. But to me, it was plain lying.
As someone who comes from a broken family because of a parent cheating on the other, trusting in relationships has never been my strong suit. Fear of abandonment is a huge struggle for me and one thing that Dane learned very early on. In fact, during the first year of our relationship, Dane had to constantly reaffirm his love for me several times a day.
Aside from trusting that he’ll be faithful. It’s also about smaller things like knowing where he is or who he’s with or trusting that he’s okay when he says he’s okay.
Being honest with each other is one of the key things in maintaining a healthy relationship as a couple. It keeps us secure in the relationship and free from unnecessary worry and stress. Today, I still need occasional reassurance, but I no longer feel like he’ll cheat on me when I’m looking away. I trust him 100% and both of us know never to lie even if it means hurting the other.
A healthy relationship is easy. It may be too early for us to say this since we’re not yet married as of writing. But I stand by this statement.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard or read that being in a relationship is hard. I’m not saying it doesn’t have its ups and downs, but it’s definitely more manageable when you’re in the right relationship. There are couples who love each other but aren’t good for one another. But when you find the right one, conflicts turn into learnings, arguments become healthy discussions, and fights pave the way to the growth of two people. A healthy relationship isn’t a chore, it’s two people making a deliberate choice to stay in love, be together, and choose each other.