5 Relationship Lessons For 5 Years Together
Today (April 13, 2020) is our five year anniversary! Josh and I met in High school and started dating very near the end of our Grade 12 year. Over the past five years we have grown up together into this scary but rewarding world of adulthood. We have grown through graduating highschool, heading to college, my sister getting cancer, too many exams, graduating college, big life decisions, moving in together, and now being isolated with each other for almost a month (& counting).
Being in a long-term relationship right out of High school and into college & adulthood has taught me a lot of lessons. Like how to communicate my feelings, how to share problems and experiences, and how to balance priorities. And yes, I know we are young and we still have so many things to learn. But I am really proud of the relationship we have built. And so happy with the life we are building together.
Talking about my relationship in a public place like this blog isn’t my really my thing. But sharing the lessons that have come out of the past five years together seems like a great way to honour spending half a decade & almost 1/4 of my life loving my best friend.
Year One: Communication Station
Josh and I started dating when I was seventeen! And while looking back on the first year of our relationship is VERY cringe-worthy 99% of the time… The one thing that I am really proud of to this day is how open our communication was from day one. Finding someone that knew the value of communicating and talking through, well, everything, was a really big priority of mine and luckily Josh felt the same. As time went on we have become much more effective communicators (pro tip: NEVER try to discuss something with me when I am hungry) but the importance of communication has been there since the beginning.
Year Two: Your Relationship, Your Rules
We are both so blessed to have amazing parents and extended family members who have really shown us what a loving, long-term relationship can look like. In our second year of college, many of our friends were in relationships as well (it was a great year full of double dates and fun college life). But even with so many amazing relationships around us, we really had to learn to not compare our relationship with anyone else’s. Every relationship is different, just like every person is different, and it is so important to define and do what works for you. Distance is hard for some but amazing for others, some partners need a lot of things in common while others thrive with more differences. Understanding that my relationship, as long as it is loving and happy, doesn’t have to look the same as anyone else’s was a really valuable lesson for me.
Year Three: Learn How to Support Your Partner
In 2017 my little sister was diagnosed with luekemia and my world was turned upside down. When I heard the news, I called Josh crying. The next 10 months were the hardest months of my life. Josh was with me through it all, showing love & support to me and my family. But he admitted years later that there were times during those 10 months when he wondered if we would make it. Getting through something like that while maintaining a loving and happy relationship was so hard. Supporting a partner through a personal crisis is no small task. Especially because everyone feels supported in different ways. One way that we learned to support each other was to embrace our love languages, there are 5 and they explain how someone feels love. Find the book and quiz all about Love Languages here.
Times get tough, and hard moments really test relationships, but when you get through them you are so much stronger for it. This is what I tell myself as we head into week 5 of quarantine together LOL.
Year Four: Making Each Other Better
As we started thinking about what the next steps after college would look like, Josh said something to me that was risky. “Belle”, he said, “I think you’re shying away from your real dream.” When I entered college, I had plans to teach English abroad after I graduated. But looking back, I see now what Josh saw all along, that I made that goal because I was afraid of my real dream, to work as a photographer and chase a creative career. Being in a loving relationship makes you a better person. I have become more understanding and patient. But I also have started chasing my real dream and I really believe I can do anything I set my heart on. A big part of that was getting a much needed kick in the butt when I was selling myself short.
Year Five: We are Two Different Humans on the Same Team
So here we are, the end of year five, we are living together and currently isolating together and dealing with a global crisis together. The last lesson I’ll share is something I need to remember more. At the core, a relationship is made up of two different people. Josh and I are so, so different. I love goals and plans and Josh loves going with the flow. Josh loves video games and cars and politics and I love reading and hiking and photography. We were raised differently, we have different ideas, and feelings, and wants, and needs. We even communicate those ideas and feelings differently. And communicating those differences can of course get frustrating and difficult.
But we are also on the same team. We value each other and listen to each other and support each other. Being different is part of what makes living life together interesting and fun.
We chose to be teammates 5 years ago and I am still SO grateful every single day that I am on your team, Josh. Love you 3000.