My husband and I often hear that we are role models in regard to our loving relationship. Although we have no intention of being the “hip-hop Cosbys” (as our friend, Sean, calls us) we have indeed been in a happy, healthy, fulfilling union for 14 years. As we approach our 12 year wedding anniversary this year, I’ll reveal some of the “secrets” to our relationship’s success.
Friendship – One of the most important agreements in our relationship is that we are friends first. Before being lovers, before being husband and wife and before our role as parents, we are friends through and through. For us, friendship is wanting the other to be the best they can be and doing everything you can to support them without wanting anything in return. We cultivated this by being platonic friends for years before we ever dated and when we began dating, we put off sex for a year to make sure that lust didn’t deceive us. This allowed us to love and know each other as friends before becoming lovers. Our friendship is rooted in consistent, respectful, open communication. We talk about everything, with nothing being too taboo for fear of hurt feelings. We are honest, but loving in our communication. We also have great fun together and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. However, we don’t smother. We’re both fiercely independent and loners, so we give each other needed space to grow individually as we do together. We find what works for us and we go with it, adapting when necessary.
The Whole Equation – As romantic as it sounds in the film Jerry McGuire, the “you complete me” logic doesn’t quite work for us. We believe that we had to get our crap together before entering a relationship so that we could come into the relationship whole and ready to function like emotionally-stable adults. I had to work on my trust issues and learn to stop being so evil and he had to drop his nonchalance and ego. Some relationships don’t work because one of the partners wasn’t ready to be in a relationship or didn’t realize that he/she still had major unresolved issues that could kill the relationship. This is not about being perfect. It is more about getting your own house in order before dirtying up someone else’s with your mess. Neediness was also kicked to the curb. We don’t “need” each other to be whole. We simply want to be together and for us, that is enough.
PYP – This is my husband’s favorite term. We believe firmly in “playing your position”. We let each other be who we are. We don’t micromanage. We don’t try to change each other or force the other to be who he/she is not. I don’t wear heels and he wears colorful sneakers to work. I don’t wash dishes and he doesn’t clean toilets. Who cares? He eats meat; I don’t, but I cook it for him. The love and acceptance is unconditional. We also don’t try to parent each other. We respect each other’s decisions and let each other live. I don’t nag incessantly and he doesn’t do the machismo thing. When he wants to go out or ride his motorcycle, I say “see you later”. There is no guilt trip or barrage of unnecessary questions and drama. When I say I’m going to Guatemala for a month, he says, “Do you need any money?” and “I guess it’s gonna be a lonely month.” We support each other’s interests, passions and goals. We play our position.
Ego Slip – We constantly check our egos to make sure that we are being flexible and cooperative. We also compromise without making a big deal out of it. We see compromise as a win-win, not a win-lose. If we are both happy and feeling respected, then we both win. There are very few big arguments (maybe 2x a year) and more calm, quick discussions. We apologize when we hurt or offend the other. It sounds simple, but ego can make this simple act very difficult. We admit when we are wrong and quickly and sincerely apologize. Then, we let it go. There’s no need to hold on to stuff that won’t strengthen the relationship.
Love is beautiful. Ego, possessiveness, neediness, poor introspection, fractured souls, and lack of effective communication are what make love more complicated than it has to be. For those of you in love, we wish you many blissfully fulfilling days together. Please share your love tips with us as well, so that all of our relationships can continue to grow and prosper from good love, great advice, and faith that what we have is worth preserving.
Love & Light, Tina & Jashed