1. They Know You As Well As Themselves
They become someone who knows you pretty much as well as you know yourself. You can’t wear a mask, put on airs, pretend to be something you’re not. That’s the only person, other than a close sibling, who will give you and honest and uncensored opinion about the most personal of things. They know your strengths and your weaknesses. I don’t think it changes your personality, but it certainly changes your facade, at least around that one person, you’re forced to drop the pantomime you preform when you play all of your other roles in life. It’s good for the soul really, that loss of ego, it helps ground you to have another human who knows you so intimately. Conversely, if it goes south, it can be horrible for all of the above reasons.
2. It’s A Journey From Selfish To Selfless
17 years here. 10 of them married. 3 kids.
Basically, I look at the human condition as a continuum that runs from selfish on one side, to selfless on the other side. The life of a human being is a long journey from selfish to selfless. That’s not to say you should stop caring about yourself, but I feel that a large part of maturity is understanding that your immediate gratification isn’t the most important thing in the world.
It’s been a hard road for me, but definitely worth the trip. If I got the chance to create a spouse in a computer program, I wouldn’t have created a woman like my wife. I would have done what most people would probably do, and tried to create someone with whom there would be no friction. While you need to find someone you’re compatible with, you don’t need to find someone exactly like yourself. A lot of growth will come from the disagreements you have, and maturity will come from the healthy resolution of those disagreements. It’s the rough waters of the river that turn a rough rock into a smooth, shiny stone.
We’re not as young as we were, and are bodies are a bit softer. There isn’t the same burning passion, but there is something, and I’d say it’s something stronger than passion. Relationships are like a forged blade. At first, the fire burns red hot, and everyone around can see and feel the heat. People are envious of that heat, but the truth is, a blade must be cooled and tempered to reach its full strength. The tough times in a relationship are the waters that strengthen the blade.
Our blade needs polished from time to time, and at a glance, it’s nowhere near as impressive as your red hot blade, but it’s so strong, it could probably cut through stone.
Anyway, sorry if that wasn’t specific enough, but I liked your question, and that’s my answer.
3. Don’t Let A Good One Get Away
Been married almost 6 years, together 7+. Good changes for sure!
I’ve gone from dragging her around to parties/smoke sessions to spending most nights (even weekends!) just chillin, playing with our son and hitting the sack early. I’ve widdled all the non-true friends out of my life because it isn’t right to waste precious time with those types, imo. I work harder for a good future and have learned what it means to love. Sounds sappy but this shit’s legit.
My advice to anyone who cares: don’t let a good one get away. Short term pleasures mean nothing when compared to a lifetime of happiness. From 25 to death is a long ass time to spend miserably.
4. I Don’t Remember
23 years here. I don’t remember how I was before her. Not sure if I even want to remember :)
5. Twice Married, Once Divorced
This might be a little long, but bear with me.
My wife and I have been married for 8 years, with a 1.5 year divorce in the middle.
We both grew up LDS (mormon). After coming home from a 2 year mission at the age of 21, my wife and I met. We were engaged after 3 months, and married after another 5. The first year was total bliss. Life was beautiful. We were in love. Every day was a blessing.
Around this time I was also in the beginning years of college. I began reading a lot. I read The Art of Rhetoric by Aristotle which put me on the road to learning informal logic. I studied Philosophy and world views that I had never considered. I came to study Rene Descarte and his conclusion of cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am). And, I decided I was going to follow in his footsteps. I put everything I believed on the table for examination. I came to realize how my worldview was built on faulty assumptions and premises and after struggling with myself for about a year I finally realized I no longer believed in my religion nor did I believe in anything supernatural.
This caused a huge strain on our marriage. I had made eternal commitments to my wife. I had promised a life and marriage based on the LDS faith. And now, I could no longer support these promises. I felt terrible. Long story short, eventually the strain of faith became the wedge that drove us apart. We decided to get divorced.
Our divorce was pretty typical; heated words exchanged, broken people blaming each other, people taking sides, friendships lost, etc.
After the divorce we still saw each other a couple times each week (We have a son). For the first little while it was very typical. Pick him up, drop him off, very few words. Then, over time, both of us had some pretty difficult experiences that I won’t expand too much on.
After almost a year we started chatting a little more. She had gained a very softened perspective on things. She saw that I was still the same good person she had married even though I had stopped believing. I also softened my perspective a lot on religion and no longer saw it in such a bad light.
After months of gradually becoming friends we both came to the most important realization of our lives; that love isn’t dependent on what two people have in common, but on how accepting and supportive two people can be of the things that make them different. With this new perspective we found ourselves falling back in love; not by only focusing on what we had in common, but by learning to love each other for the things that made us different.
We re-married two years ago. Life is once again a bliss. Every day feels like a blessing. We recently welcomed our second son into our lives. We’re two completely different people than we were when we first wed. But, now I feel like we truly have a love that will last a lifetime.
Over 7 years with my girlfriend, I’ve become SO much more down to earth. She’s quite adventurous and loves to live beyond her means, so I feel like I’ve become the voice of logic and reason. I don’t always feel great having that role but we definitely need that balance. If I were more like her, we’d be really adventurous and would probably have tons and tons of debt but on the other hand, if she were more like me, we’d probably have all kinds of dull savings and investments and would be thinking about retirement plans (I’m 26, she’s 24). It’s great to have that balance and you bounce off each other to make the best of everything.
I’ve learned to listen. Just listen. Sometimes echo back what I hear, just so my SO knows I’ve been listening. If I have a response, I don’t use it just yet. Then I take some time to absorb what was said, let it roll around, see if it settles in comfortably. A few hours later or the next day, if there’s still something I want to say about it, I’ll say it then.
We’ve been married 35 years.
BTW, as a result of the above, the sex is better and more frequent now than it was early on.
8. All The Changes Have Been Good
23 years with my SO. We’re both gay males. He was a work-a-holic in a non-loving, non-sexual marriage, he worked hard, life was hard, he wasn’t happy. I was a carefree, spoiled, party boy, who thought I would never be in a committed relationship ever. I wasn’t happy, but that’s what I did, and decided that is what I will continue to be. We met, moved in, played house, everything changed about me. Priorities changed, I relaxed for once, he relaxed, we combined incomes, he didn’t have to work so hard, we found out going through life together was meant to be. I cannot list all the changes we have gone through, but they are all good. I’m the same person, still fabulous, but I don’t need all the glitter.
9. My One Regret
7 Years now. I had major depression before I met her and was in a pretty bad place in my life. She pretty much cleaned me up and got me to stop dealing / taking drugs. If anything I think she’s helped better me as I was a major introvert and she’s a definite extrovert. She gets me to go out and do things I normally would have avoided and I’ve enjoyed most of it. If I have one regret its that I act more and more like my parents (married 30 years) and thats slightly creepy to me.
10. Mimicking One Another, Slowly
The most noticeable thing is that I’ve taken on certain mannerisms and speech patterns of hers, and she’s taken on some of mine. Beyond that, I don’t know that either one of us has deeply changed the other. We just take on more and different responsibilities as we get older. We’re both fairly independent, creative types, and generally respect each others’ space.
11. I’ve Matured…But I’m Still Me
7 years, just got married a few months back and expecting our first child.
Physical appearance. I was very, very scrawny for the first year or two. Then I put on some muscle. Then I got fat. Then I lost a lot of weight and grew a beard and I think I look the best I’ve ever looked. She stuck with me through it all and was honest with what physical traits she’s been attracted to or not attracted to throughout the years.
Personality-wise… it’s hard to say. I’m still a big kid, we are still big goofs to each other. We joke a lot, play a lot, laugh a lot. She used to think I could answer every question she’d ever had, she thought I was out-of-this-world smart for the first year or two, but I think some of that magic wore off. She still trusts me, but she knows I can’t answer everything on my own, and she loves me none-the-less.
Career-wise, I went through some struggles. When we started dating I was in college and didn’t have a job. I’m blessed with amazing parents, so I didn’t NEED a job in college, they had me covered. Upon graduating I got an okay job (not career). It was a contracted position and unfortunately I lost my job a few months after we rented our first apartment together. She carried us during those times. It was scary, but she was/is so strong. I got another job soon, doing something I loved, but it still wasn’t paying the bills. Finally, 2+ years ago I landed a very good solid job. Since landing that job I’ve been building my career, climbing the corporate ladder and doing pretty well. I’m confident in my abilities to support our expected child now.
I still play a lot of video games. I still love to hang with friends (though she normally tags along since all my friends love her anyway). I still like legos and other toys that I’m way too old for. I still love cartoons and anime. I still make mistakes. I still cause fights.
Despite some of my more childish traits, I’ve grown into a man. I know what comes first – my family. I know what paths I must work towards to give my family the life they deserve. I stay healthy. I pay my share of the bills. I support my wife. I let her know I love her.
To sum it all up; I’ve had my ups and downs, failures and successes. I’ve matured… but I’m still me.
12. We’ve Reversed Roles
Almost 6 years with my boyfriend. When we first started dating I was extremely independent and distant. I didn’t want to get married or have a family, just cohabitate and focus on a career (selfish I know). On the other hand, he was very sensitive and was talking marriage just a few months into our relationship. Since then, our roles have reversed. He is more distant and independent and I’m the one who wants to settle down and start a family.
I’m glad that I changed my personality, however I’m not so glad that I pushed him to change his. Overall though I think things will work out fine, we are still young and have plenty of time to get on the same page.
13. Chores, Mostly
Just celebrated 5 years a few weeks ago and we’re getting married in April.
I don’t know that I’ve changed much. My fiancé loves to argue (not like fighting, more like debating) so I’ve certainly learned and continue to learn how to structure my arguments to be more effective.
I’ve also somewhat changed from a person who would think, “I’ll just put away my stuff and he can do his on his own” to someone who would rather just suck it up and put both our dishes in the dishwasher for the sake of having a clean(er) apartment. Luckily he’s started doing this as well, so it’s more or less a 50/50 split of chores, which I like. This is probably also just part of growing up on both our parts, so there’s that.
I’ve also gotten more interested in being and staying fit–I’ve never really been overweight but I’ve never been totally happy with how I looked. Partially because of the wedding, partially for my own piece of mind, and partially because my fiancé likes to run and I’d like to be able to keep up with him, I’ve been trying to get fitter for a while now. So there’s that.
I’ve also started flossing since my fiancé is a dental student…
14. Everything Has Changed
Met my now-wife when we were 14 in middle school. We were sorta kinda friends up until high school. I dropped out a few days into my Jr year. We met up again 2 years later and have been together 13 years since. I was driven in one aspect of my life (career) and a total shit bum in everything else. I had my own house at 17 and it was’t uncommon to come home and plow threw a 20 pack 5-6 days a week. She was driven to have a family, everything else she seemed to think would just fall in line.
Everything has changed. We were 18 years old and we’re early 30s now. We’ve became adults together. We’ve basically defined our lives since we’ve been together. She’s become much more stable and less prone to letting emotion take over. I’ve become much less of an emotional stone. We’ve both become far more responsible and driven to achieve our goals.
I regret none of the above, they were all good things. There are things I used to regret about how we’ve changed, but I no longer do. It’s got us to where we are, and where we are is pretty freakin good.
15. I Try To Be Better For Him
Been with my fiancé for 8 years. I want to be the person he thinks I am. I find myself much more confident. He makes me feel beautiful and believes with every part of his being that I am the most wonderful person on the planet. How can I not try to to be that person? I make better, less self destructive decisions so that I can be better for him.
16. Statistically, We Should Have Failed
I don’t rightfully know how much of it can be attributed to the relationship and how much of it can be attributed to growing up a little. He was 16 and I was 17 when we first started dating, and we’re 21 and 22 now. We were both teenagers when we met, and we’re young adults now, and there is a lot of learning and adjustment that goes on between those years. I was a year ahead of him in school, so we did a long-distance year while I was in my freshman year of college; he moved in with me in my new apartment the day he got out of high school.
Statistically, we should not have worked out. Two kids, one fresh out of high school, renting an apartment and trying to learn how to live as adults with no practice or prior knowledge. He was jobless, while I was failing classes and working to support both of us. Life was really difficult, and we both did a fair amount of fucking up and failing at stuff. But we never took it out on each other, and we provided whatever meager support we could to each other, through good times and bad.
Now we’re on our fourth year living together, both happily employed. I’ve turned my academic habits around and am doing really well in a program I love. We’ve adopted two cats, learned how to maintain a household, and grown closer than I ever would have believed. I’ve grown up a lot, and so has he, and I can’t tell whether it’s because we’re older, or because we had each other as support every step of the way. Maybe they’re one and the same.
17. She Probably Saved My Life
My SO and I have been together for 4 years and 4 months, so not quite there… but I figured maybe it was close enough, lol.
So, our story might be a little odd in that I came from a totally fucked-up background. To keep it short, while I was not actually raised in a cult, I have a lot of sympathy for people who were… the emotional and physical abuse were there, and the near-total isolation from anyone outside of my family was also there (we lived out in the country and I was homeschooled until college). It took me the whole first year of college to even figure out the basics of functioning like a normal human being enough to begin making friends, and I had a metric fuck-ton of issues that I was carrying around from my upbringing. I had very low self esteem and was self-harming (primarily through cutting and starving myself) and had suicidal thoughts, but I was also very secretive about my problems and never confided in anyone about my past or about my feelings beyond admitting that I might be vaguely sort of depressed.
Basically, she probably saved my life, and she also taught me so much about honesty and openness. I managed to keep all of everything a secret from her until we’d been together for almost a year, but then the floodgates just opened up. I still don’t really know what she saw in me that made her decide it would be worth the risk of sticking with me in that state, but she did. We went through one hell of a process together. She was basically my unpaid psychiatrist for a while (yes, I got a paid one too, but I think she helped me more). She helped me build true self-confidence from the ground up by providing the most positive and loving environment I had ever experienced, and as an added bonus she encouraged me to finally cut my father completely out of my life.
After going through all that shit together, I think we’re about as close as two people can be, and I’m amazed every day at how well we balance either other. I’m a worrier, she’s an optimist–so she helps me to see how silly I’m being when I’m worrying about completely inane bullshit, while I try to help her to not bite off more than she can chew because she always believes things will just work themselves out somehow (especially in the area of money ;P). As emo as it sounds, I basically never had a childhood, whereas she is very much in touch with her inner child, and she’s helped me find my silly side too.
The only downside is that I’m probably entirely too co-dependent on her, haha. I try to stay conscious of that and maintain and cultivate my own interests but it’s something I struggle with… all of my friends are our friends (not that she has any friends who are ‘just hers’ anymore either), most of the podcasts I listen to are ones she recommended, my favorite video game is one she introduced me to, and I just started reading her favorite book and am really enjoying it. We’re merging.
All of this is not to say that there isn’t a single real flaw in our relationship or anything… she’s messy, like she literally just does not see mess where I do, and it sucks because I usually wind up doing the majority of the cleaning. My goal for the future is to go to graduate school; her goal is to buy a boat and sail the world (we’ll probably find a way to make both of these things happen, haha). I love pets; she likes them in theory but they usually wind up annoying her. She has a lower sex drive than I do, something that we deal with by frequent, open, and honest conversations about the subject (which sucks sometimes but also sometimes leads to sex, so, you know).
All of these problems aside, though, I really could not be happier with our relationship or with the person I’ve become in it. I am happier, healthier, more confident. I really feel like I’m a better person with her and like we could do more together than we ever could on our own.
18. I Used To Be A Criminal
11 years together, married for almost a year and a half.
Let’s just say that I was definitely on a path to either death or prison time. I was 18 when I met my wife and already had been in and out of juvi. And rehab programs since the age of 14. I look back at it now and realize that I had shown no love or affection towards anyone because I was never given that love and affection from my parents. Now all the sudden this girl was showing me love and truly meant it. Over the course of the next couple years I found myself slowing changing for the better. I would stop going out and partying as well as laying off the criminal activities and violence. First couple of years must have been hell for her cause I was still a nutcase with an attitude, but she stuck around. Now a days I feel like I am the total opposite of the person I used to be, and I owe it all to her. If you find a girl that puts up with your Shit for over 2 years, and you love and trust her…. Marry that woman. I waited 10 years before I put a ring on her finger, and if I could change anything I would have to say I would have married her long ago! Can’t imagine where I would be without her!
19. I Could Never Live The Way I Used To
So my boyfriend and I have only been together for 3 years, but I’ve changed so much since I’ve met him. I didn’t want to get married, I didn’t want kids, I didn’t want to have to answer to anyone, and I just wanted to be left alone. Whenever guys asked me out, I would just tell them I had a boyfriend. I was also very quiet and would go days without saying a single word all day to anyone.
Now, I want to get married, I want kids, I enjoy being around people WAY more than I used to. I even feel more motivated to do well in everything I do because I have someone to share my successes with. I can’t think of one downside to meeting and being with my SO. I really did like my life before I met him, but looking back now, I could never live that way again.
20. Everyone Changes But Work To Change Together
I was in a six year relationship, met at 19, dating at 20, split at 26. This is different than most answers because I’m not in it anymore obviously but I think you’ll get something out of it.
Myself I was brasher, more sure of myself (unfounded) than I am now. Quicker to anger, more insecure. She became lower energy, less willing to engage with new people, cut down on drinking to an extremely low level comparatively to when I met her. We both started and were going through (different) graduate school programs and working, being unemployed as well through our time together. We had times of vast income disparity (think 65k vs part time retail), times where we were both students. Had a dog, who died of cancer at age 3. Adopted a second dog about a year later.
My lesson is that people naturally change, you have to work to change together but it’s not always possible.
I don’t want to go back and be in a relationship with that person, I have no regrets or desire to reconnect with her now but I do think it was one of the most successful relationships a person could have had. I learned a insane amount about myself – I learned about what I wanted, what I was able to offer and what I needed to change about myself. The relationship ended and that became the motivation to get over the last of my personal issues.
Simply put – that relationship taught me everything I needed to know about myself, what I can offer, what kind of relationship makes me happy.
21. Equal Parts Fire And Flow
My SO has pretty severe, chronic depression and intense anxiety disorders, which makes patience and empathy pretty paramount over…7 years now, I think. Things are under control, now, and going very well, but it used to be that either the anxiety or the depression would always be acting up, which meant constant emotional chaos and upheaval for her, and a whirlwind persistently blowing around me. Probably sounds like hell to some, but I never even considered leaving.
Anyways, I was certainly a calm person before, but over the years it’s made me almost completely immune to stress – mostly due to prolonged exposure, I imagine. I haven’t been genuinely anxious in…God…years, and certainly not about a personal issue. I absolutely love that aspect of myself, and I wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for her. And dammit did I learn to listen, and listen well. Try being an 18 year old telling a thoroughly depressive person, “Just stop being so sad.” You learn fast; that ain’t gonna work. I got plenty of practice really hearing someone.
She kinda reminds me of Flame Princess from Adventure Time…volatile, but intensely passionate and powerful. And my character became more fluid (see what I did there?) as a result. Strong relationships are equal parts fire and flow, in my mind. She gets to be the passion, I’m more than content being the patience.