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Surviving conflict -- even in something like a board game -- is essential to a happy, longterm relationship

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Last month, I attended my fiancé’s mother’s wedding. Both she and her new husband knew each other for decades, each the surviving spouse of a prior marriage. Their wedding had the full works for a formal church ceremony: unity candles, live vocalists, flower girls and an off-white traditional wedding gown. Her two sons escorted her down the aisle, making a grand entrance in the sanctuary. She beamed when she pronounced her I do’s, and the guests applauded at the union. Regardless of time, the newlyweds found love again.

There is something sweet in the notion of everlasting love when we live in a society where everything is so temporal. We can go online anywhere with our smart phones, stream movies within seconds at home and can shop for dates with a few clicks. When life has so many options and so many places to go, it seems harder than ever to settle long enough to nurture a relationship.

Then again, there’s no accurate prediction of when two people will meet and hit it off. It’s like a lottery; but unlike where you must buy a ticket to play, in romance it can happen in the most surprising and unlikely of places.

Even harder than meeting a person is maintaining that romance for the long-run. Our first year was blissful, the second was the opposite. We never bitterly argued, but we noticed our differences more profoundly. Small things, like playing a game of Scattergories, were fodder for discord (and to this day, I still believe staples is an item in a catalog).  We were beyond the stage of innocence and began to see our more truthful, complete selves.

My greatest misperception about relationships before meeting Enrique was that relationships were supposed to be easy. I thought that if you met the right person, everything should “click.” Arguments were for those who weren’t compatible. Oh how wrong I was! Conflict is unavoidable and even essential for all involved. The hard part, though, is knowing how to use conflict meaningfully. It could be a moment that brings up the uncomfortable and raises awareness of our boundaries. It could also be the time to release all frustration by any means necessary.

Surviving conflict is just one part of what makes any relationship sustainable. For us, I believe the core of our relationship is our commitment to one another, our respect for each other’s separate lives, and our insatiable appetite for romance.

We can be sickeningly romantic, to the chagrin of our friends. We still send each other’s cards and take each other on dates. Just because we’re together now doesn’t mean we have to stop doing the fun things that brought us to this point. I want our relationship to last for as long as I can remember. Even in moments where it seems lost, I hope we can always trace it back.

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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