News flash: Love isn’t a one-way ticket to Happily Ever After because there is no such place.
There is no magical land where everyone gets along constantly. Where clarity arrives just in time to prevent people from saying and doing nasty things. Where couples are protected from each other and from the world at large. Where no one gets hurt, acts like an asshole, or experiences pain.
But that’s okay! You don’t need a fairytale ending, let alone a fairytale life.
What you need is a partner who gets it—who understands that it’s going to be tough and who’s prepared to dive in anyway. Someone who will wade through Life’s darkest, ugliest bits right alongside you and admit that they were a shithead that time they said that thing they only half-meant, in retrospect.
There will be relationship pains no matter how much you adore each other—no matter how much money you have or how successful you are professionally or how much fun you have on weekday nights, sitting at home doing nothing in your pjs. There will be rocky patches no matter how often you laugh together or how many sacrifices you make on each other’s behalf or how many milestones you reach as a couple. There will be tough times when you least expect them, and predicaments you can actually see charging at you from miles away, snowballing in significance on their all-too-predictable path to bombardment.
Love isn’t always fun. It doesn’t matter how compatible you are, how often you make each other smile, or how wowed you are by each other’s general awesomeness.
Each and every single one of us sucks as a human sometimes, and the world is a place where things can go horribly wrong, no matter how good of a person you are. These brutal truths will impact your relationship.
There will be days when you wake up feeling wretched for no particular reason and the kind, compassionate, motivated individual who usually stares back at you in the mirror is replaced by a grumpy, bitter, intolerant shadow incapable of being a loving partner. On other occasions, the world will catapult some unwelcome crisis in your direction and the challenge of handling it will overwhelm you to the point that you just can’t deal and your relationship will suffer as a result.
You and your significant other will fail each other sometimes.
You will fail to understand each other and you will drive each other insane and you will reduce yourselves to behavior that later abhors you. You will treat each other like shit, and it might take hours or even days or months before you’re able to see clearly—before you can reach deep inside yourselves and admit that you were being total jerk-faces and finally apologize. Before you can rectify that sense of loving trust that drew you to each other in the first place—that which holds you together, sometimes just by a thread, when shit hits the proverbial fan.
The thing is, the pain you cause each other is rooted in beauty on some level. Because the more you love someone, the more vulnerable you are to them. The harder you fall for someone, the more you empower them to make you miserable. The more you treasure that truly special connection, the more likely you are to ache when it seems to unravel.
The person you promise forever to will break your heart in small but meaningful ways again and again and again.
But around the corner from every heartbreak is renewed strength—as long as you’re committed to learning from each and every misstep. If you take the time to assess what went wrong—to figure out why that massive brawl was actually inevitable—and do the work to make things right, you will me more than okay. If you trust that every mishap is an opportunity to move forward with yet more knowledge—about yourself, your significant other, and life in general—you will grow stronger, wiser, and more powerful as a couple.
So expect relationship troubles. The more prepared you are for the reality that you will experience problems, the better positioned you will be to fight for your relationship’s survival. Make no mistake: You will have to fight.