Saturday, August 25, 2007

For the Long Haul...

When does the newness fade out when being in a long-term relationship? The days of laughter, butterflies and fun have taken a break and went dormant. Or has it gone away forever? The spark has turned into smoldering coal; still hot enough to keep the intimacy going, but not as blazing as it used to be.

Do people expect too much when it comes to relationships? Do they anticipate the “excitement” that new relationships have for the long haul? Or are people getting lazier when it comes to maintaining a relationship? Some people claim that relationships should flow; that they shouldn’t have to work at it. I disagree with that though. I feel that in order to maintain a healthy relationship, there’s work involved. It’s a gratifying work that comes from love. Sex is sex, but when love in involved, there’s a whole new meaning to it. Sex is just the bonus. Who can say that they would stay with their significant other, God forbid something bad should happen, like a disability where they couldn’t perform sexually? Can you answer yes, if your partner/spouse couldn’t be intimate with you? Would you stay? Better question yet----would you stray?

I think people have false illusions when it comes to the honeymoon stage. They think that’s how it should be all the time. That’s a lot of work after the first or second year. There’s going to be conflict, disagreements and differences that you’ll find throughout the course of the relationship, where it turns into more of a different understanding. It gets deeper, much more involved and much more complicated. Communication can be tricky when dealing with someone who cannot handle certain types of information. If your other half is a little too sensitive when telling them about your emotions, then it leaves the other person holding back from telling the truth---or telling them anything that may upset them. This always leads to a lack of communication and plenty of misunderstandings. And where does that lead them? Into the world of arguments, because both parties aren’t understanding one another because they’re too scared to admit their true feelings. If you can’t handle communication, you shouldn’t be in a relationship to begin with.

In my own personal opinion, a relationship has three stages. These are just my own thoughts about it.

1. The ‘in love crazy about you can’t get my hands off you’ type of stage- also known as the “honeymoon stage”. This is a great stage where the relationship blossoms.

2. The 'getting to know you' stage. The ‘in love’ part is still there, yet it’s more of an understanding, a learning process of the relationship. Both parties are still in love, yet they are trying to learn the deeper side about one another, developing a better “friendship”. Their actions will speak louder than words sometimes. The action of “giving” or “helping” provides a long-lasting future for them.

3. A deeper love, a 'family type of love', and a companionship type of living. These people may or may not still be intimate, however, their love for one another is strong and unconditional. Their actions show the way they feel. Both take care of each other and have a mutual respect for one another. Usually, this is the stage where a married couple or partners of many years at an older age continue on living their lives together. It’s a contentment of love; a love that endures and isn’t so complicated.

Let’s get back to stage one though…the fun stage. Stage one is that search for the potential mate. It’s the trial period, where you get to see if you really want this person for the long haul. I’m not saying that ‘testing’ your mate is a good thing, but this is trial and error on both parts. The way a person treats you is a little prelude into the future. I’m not talking about financial matters, but in terms of how they care for you, their way of loving you, the way they make you feel loved, and how “open” you can be with them. It’s very important to develop a good level of communication. If you have a fear of opening up too much, due to emotional explosions, then it might be a good time to reevaluate the entire relationship. Is this someone you want to be with for the rest of your life if you can’t tell them something that may be potentially upsetting? Can you go to this person if you need help, without feeling guilt? Can you expose your true self to this person, without feeling a tinge of judgment or ridicule? Is there jealousy in the relationship?

I always say make a list of pros and cons while being in the first year of your relationship. If your list of cons is much longer, it’s time to open up that communication barrier and let all of it out. Don’t worry about emotional breakdowns or a conflict of interest----it needs to be revealed. You need to nip it in the bud and let your significant other know how you feel and what your needs are, otherwise, they’ll never know. It'll either “make” or “break” the relationship, depending on how understanding he or she is.

My mother always told me, if the person you’re with can still make you laugh after years of being with them and you still have that foundation of “friendship” alive, then it’s then you've found 'the one'. Never stay with somebody who can’t make you laugh and don’t be fooled by that first year together. Some people put their best foot forward, eventually revealing the other side to who they truly are.

The best way to go is by your gut instinct. If something inside of you is telling you it’s not “right”, make that list and of course, go with your heart. There are people who are together who have many differences and conflicts of interests, yet they work well together. I’m not sure if the whole ‘opposites attract’ is 100% true, but I do believe you have to have some sort of common ground to make it work.

Going by financial statuses will always ruin a potentially good relationship. For me, I’d rather be financially strapped with the woman I am completely in love with, as opposed to being well off, while living with someone who nags and complains all the time. It makes all the difference. Money has ruined many relationships. With love, understanding and working “as a team” together on a financial issue, nothing can go wrong between you two, other than financial stuff---which is sometimes trivial. Is this going to matter ten years from now? Look at the long term.

There is one stipulation for me to be with a person for the long haul---and that’s being with another woman who’s also a believer. I don’t judge my friends and what they believe in, but for me to live and commit to someone I love and care for, they must also love God and have faith. For me, it’s important. I can’t be with someone who lacks faith. Try picturing an ex-smoker who starts living with someone who smokes. Eventually, that person will start to pick up that cigarette again and go back to their old ways. Maybe that’s a bad analogy, but that’s how I see it. My faith is strong, but sometimes people backslide when they’re with another person who lacks faith. For me, I need somebody who will encourage my faith in Christ and keep me going strong---stronger than I already am. I need someone who can edify and lift me up, instead of being pessimistic and dreary about life. Life’s too short and you might as well enjoy it with someone who can share your love for God, your love for life and the love you have for yourself!

18 comments: said...

If you talk with some of the old timers they'll tell you that their relationships go through phases. It's the ones that stick to it through the "desert" seasons who you should ask.

Pittchick said...

I've only been married for 5 years, and it definitely takes work and compromise, but I believe it's worth it when you've found "the one".

kathi said...

100% true. I don't think there is anything more special than sharing your love for Christ in a relationship.

Robert said...

Great post! Having just gone through a relationship of three years and having it end, I can relate to much of what you've shared. Communication is soooooooo important, without it you are not only hurting yourself but hurting the one you love. The loved one is left to imagine what's real and what's going on in the relationship, but imagination and reality are NEVER the same! It is truly a sad situation when people do not communicate, or do not know how to. News flash, there is no 'know to', just do it, face the discomfort, forge into scary new know, in other words, never stop growing as an individual. Be responsible, communicate. Thanks D

People in the Sun said...

Sex? What's that?

Oh yes, it's that thing people do and then one of them gets pregnant and then doesn't want to ever do it ever again. I remember now.

In other news, we'll be together for ten years on Tuesday. Life is beautiful and all is good in the world.

awannabe said...

I think for married couples, religiously speaking, we stay together because its the right thing to do.

With or without sex you stay.

I have been wanting to blog about (hah hah) the lack of it in my marriage but I keep telling myself no, that would just be disrespectful.

He got on Prozac because of his anger problem, and well... I just keep telling myself "I'd rather go without sex than to live with a raging meanie."

I think it would b scary to be single and start dating again anyhow. When I was in high school my constant worry was whether or not a guy really loved me or if he was just using me for sex... and I got used a lot.

When someone stays with you, and you aren't having sex then at least you don't have to worry about that.

~Deb said...

Ablogaboutnothing: I think I would probably agree with that. They made it that far, you know? Thank you for your input!

Pittchick: Sometimes when things are in the way like lust and sex, “the one” becomes foggy. We sometimes confuse lust and love and then it becomes a question of, is he/she “the one”? Then, you have the mighty “Christians” who will debate that it’s love at all if premarital sex is involved…Thanks Pitt!

Kathi: That’s so important for me! Thank you!

Robert: I’ve been in relationships where the communication was next to none. They never worked out. It’s hard to be a mind reader, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing!

People in the sun: (haha) Sex is just the bonus! Sometimes a relationship gets wacky with sex involved! (At least it can seem that way!)

Awannabe: Wow. You are very patient- which is definitely described in Corinthians! When you truly love someone, sex becomes an extra added perk, and the relationship---rather----“the friendship” is what’s most important. I’d rather be with someone for their friendship rather than something that ends in 15 minutes….oops, I mean 3 hours. (That’ll get me none!) Thanks for sharing that with me!

Amy said...

Great Post as answer the question, would I stay with my partner if they could not perform, most definetly. I love her for who she is, not what she can do for me.

~Deb said...

That's definitely true love!

Amy said...

I have one question...when her faith can I help restore that, or can I? If you dont mind me asking ?'s here in your comments?

Danny said...

A good read! You have a lot to say and you say it very well. Where did you get all this wisdom? Wise beyond your years...a good attempt at dissecting a very complex subject.
Danny - Married 28 years and 1 year living in sin. ;-)

People in the Sun said...

Yikes! I just tried listening to that post for the first time. I thought it was going to be you reading your post, but instead, I get this robot from the future. (By the way, if that was you then I apologize. And you should quit smoking).

~Deb said...

Amy: In my own personal opinion, if she has lost faith somehow, the only thing you can do is share what God has done for you and how happy you are with your own faith. I’ve learned the hard way, that pushing God---or my own faith upon someone never really works, in fact, it does the opposite sometimes. So, I share my experiences without the persuasion. I quit being a salesperson and now, I just brag about the benefits of my faith.
Hope that helped a little.

Danny: Thank you for the kind words! No wisdom---just thoughts and opinions! It is a very complex subject, that’s why there are so many ways people handle it all. You must know the answer being that you’re married 28 years! Don’t get me going on that living in sin bit! (heh) Thanks for stopping by!

People in the Sun: What? You didn’t like my raspy voice? I’m offended! Some people have even compared my voice to that sexy model---what’s her name----Marge Simpson? I think you’re just jealous! ;)

Enemy of the Republic said...

I've been married and with my spouse long enough that it amazes myself. I think that business about the desert times is wise. We are trying to find an oasis as I write this. Relationships are work, and sometimes you just don't want to work.

QUASAR9 said...

I guess one has to know whether one can still carry on if the new job fails
or if the relationship fizzles out.

Most people fall in love with the thrill of it all, the newness or the unknown - and soon reality catches up, and pie in the sky dreams are soon brought down by gravity.

But - knowing that you would stay with a person if they lost their sexual drive, and knowing that person would stay with you if you lost your legs or lost their mind - I guess that is knowing you are in love and loved,
But perhaps most of us hope we will never be put to the test.

Art said...

I totally agree, Deb. I've been with my wife for 17 years and I think that mutual respect and friendship are the most important aspects of any long term relationship.

Ricardo said...

These are all razor sharp observations Deb. I love stage one but usually it's all down hill for me after that. Right now I hate relationships and may go on yet another rampage of sewing my wild oats. No time for love, just bootie.

tkkerouac said...

I've read a relationship or true love needs three stages

Number one is "Passion, the bumping like bunnies stage"

number feel a calm with this person, a comfort when around them

number three, commanilty (after the honeymoon stage is over, you better have something more than just sex in common)

Relationships are work. And sometimes we fall into the same distructive patterns or pick the same types of partners, I know, I'm guilty of this

And it doesn't matter how much councelling you get, how much knowledge,
subconciously, you can keep doing the same thing, over and over

Is there such thing as a soul mate? Or perhaps, is it just 2 people who make the better fit and effort.

Great post, I've always been baffled by "relationship"