To all the girls who think there's something wrong with yourrelationship,

There we are. We look happy, don't we? But what if I told you he made me cry that same night? Or what if I told you that I wasn't sure if we were gonna make it to our 1-year anniversary the next week? What if you knew what went on *after* the picture was taken, and the smiles had faded away? Well, that's what this post is about. 

Let me make two things clear before I begin: 1- I genuinely AM blissfully happy in my relationship and 2- I am in NO way a relationship expert. I am merely a woman who's had to learn the struggles of a long-term relationship the hard way. 

I, like many of you, was naive. I had this idea that men bent over backwards all the time for their women. I thought they would cater to me whenever I asked, and shower me with flowers and gifts 24/7. I knew men were different than the ones in the movies, but I never really thought about *how* they were different. I just kind of knew they were. 

I have dated in the past, and those relationships were fine I guess, but I was happy single. I genuinely enjoy being alone- it's much easier than always worrying about somebody else every time you make a decision. But then I found Ian...

We had been friends in high school, and we had always had a great, fun relationship. And then we started dating. That's when you start to realize the things that annoy you about that person. Where's THAT in the movies? I was always finding random quirks here and there that just bugged me. But I knew I was happy, so why was that happening? Did that mean we had to break up? Was the man of my dreams supposed to piss me off sometimes, or had I simply picked the wrong man? 

Yeah, being in your "first" long-term relationship makes you second guess yourself. No, that does not make you a bad person, and no, it doesn't mean you need to beak up. All it means is that humans are by no means perfect. If two people are together long enough, they ARE going to annoy each other, or make the other person mad, or maybe be a little too honest and hurt your feelings, or maybe need some space to clear their head and be independent. But the worst part is that no matter how many people try to tell you this logically, you'll never fully understand it until you experience it *emotionally.* How emotional you get depends on you. But until your head and your heart agree to ignore the bad things and focus on the millions of good qualities, you'll never fully understand that concept. It may take two years, or it may take ten. Who knows. But I'm here to tell you this: it's NORMAL. 

It's normal to need to spend a night doing your own thing without him. I suggest a girls night out with your friends to unwind. And it's NORMAL to be hurt by him and wonder, if he loves you, why is he saying things that hurt you? 

But the best piece of advice I can give you is this: NEVER threaten to sacrifice the relationship unless you're fully ready to lose him. 

This isn't a Nicholas Sparks book; he WILL NOT come running back to you and sweep you off your feet. Breaking up is a permanent decision. I've been guilty of this, and it used to make me secretly hurt that Ian wouldn't fight for me the way I *thought* he was "supposed" to. But then it hit me: if I'm going to go far enough to END everything we have over hurt feelings or a bad argument, why would I expect him to fight when I've already made up my mind? 

So, ladies, don't do that. It'll get to a point when he's just not going to care about the relationship OR you anymore. 

So then what?

Be happy. And if you're not happy, change your attitude. Instead of assuming it's HIS fault, try turning the attention on YOU, and deal with your problems first. So many of our possible arguments have ended because one of us changed our attitude and took responsibility. You DO have control over what you say and how you feel. Nobody wants to be with an emotional, irrational person. Again, we're not perfect, and mistakes will be made. But make them few and far between. 

It's been two years now, and I wouldn't trade Ian for the world. Despite any little annoying habits or harsh words, he's an incredible man and I'm extremely lucky to have him. When I finally realized that our relationship was normal (well, as far as the emotions were concerned) and that I no longer had to second guess anything, ANYTHING about our relationship... THAT'S when the fights became minimal, the hurt feelings reduced, and we could pay more attention to the blissfully happy moments. 

So ladies, I hope you all have this realization before I did. Being in a relationship with somebody FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE can be quite daunting. Your mind will be racing with doubt and questions. But remember that nobody is perfect, including yourself. Everything can be worked through and nothing is permanent except the relationship. Hurt feelings will fade and arguments will end, but the relationship remains constant. So treat it well and never do anything to harm it. 

And when times get too hard and you're struggling, remember that there is one Father who is ALWAYS there to talk to. And I promise you He'll make you feel a million times better. 



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