Just typing that subject line made me sweat a little – and I’m female. I’ve been socialized to want a long-term relationship. And in terms of how I’m hardwired, there’s nothing about me that avoids commitment. So, if that subject made me uncomfortable, I can only imagine how it made you feel.
For me, the cringe-factor isn’t the idea of being with someone forever.
It’s the idea of tolerating discomfort forever. Or living in an unfulfilled relationship forever.
Never feeling that spark again – the one you feel in the beginning of a relationship. You remember... It's that period of time when you obsessively thought about your partner. That period of time when you had endless, wild sex.
My parents were never happily married – not to each other or to any of their other partners. So, I did some thinking for this post… What couple do I know who’s been together for a very long time – and is still HAPPY?
I know one of these strange couples. They are the parents of my childhood best friend, who I’ll call Jane.
Here’s what I’ll tell you about them:
- They make it look fucking effortless.
- She’s in her 70’s and still puts makeup on every day of her life, never has a visible grey hair, and looks like she just stepped out of a J-Crew catalogue.
I’ve known them since I was 19 years old and I’ve never heard him say ‘no’ to her – about anything. Anything she wants, she can have. You want pasta? Great! Feel like hanging out with your brother today? Awesome – see you tonight. You want me to wear those pants? Sure. No problem.
- I’ve never seen them fight – or even bicker.
- They look like the two happiest people on earth – and they may very well be.
You’d think coming from parents like that, Jane would have it made in the love department, right?
Jane went through her divorce just as I was marrying Steph. I think the last time I saw her ex-husband was actually at our wedding.
Turns out, we don’t necessarily learn good relationship skills even if we come from happily married parents. For her parents, good relationship skills are effortless, so when Jane ran into trouble in her marriage, she had no tools to use, because she’d never seen her parents struggle and come out the other side.
Jane’s parents aren’t normal.
What is normal is having to learn relationship skills.
Conflict is normal in relationships.
Knowing how to handle conflict isn’t.
Losing the spark in a relationship is normal.
Knowing how to keep the spark going is not.
Feeling disconnected in a relationship is normal.
Knowing how to reconnect isn’t.
No one’s born with relationship skills — not people like my friend Jane, who comes from Mr. & Mrs. Happy, and not even therapists like my wife, Steph, and me.
Steph and I had to learn relationship skills the hard way - and we've dedicated our lives to making sure you don't have to go through what we went through.
Because together forever can actually mean feeling cherished, passionate, and loved. Forever.