The Best Laid Plans. And A Question.

Recently I received a Facebook message from a friend telling me she was getting a divorce. This is a person I’ve known since Junior High and although we’ll comment on each other’s statuses here and there, we haven’t actually talked in many, many years.

But this is one of the unexpected results I’ve experienced from working on this blog. Because I write the way I do, people feel comfortable reaching out and telling me their stories.

It’s pretty cool.

When I received this message, I was shocked. Shocked, because to follow them on Facebook, they seemed to be the quintessential happy couple. I never would have imagined they were having troubles. I was sad. I was sad for her and sad for her young daughter. But I was also fascinated. Fascinated, because the reason she gave for divorcing her husband was one of the most unique explanations I’ve ever heard. But as she clarified further, I could absolutely understand why the marriage hadn’t worked out.  It just was a scenario I never would have thought of.

And because of this, then I was scared.

One of the benefits I’ve found from starting this relationship with My Boyfriend at the age of 43 is that both of us have not only learned many things from going through our own relationships with others, but also we’ve seen the ins and outs of our friends’ relationships for over two decades. Neither of us have ever been married, so we can’t speak directly to that,  but we’ve seen from afar – many relationships start, many relationships end, and many relationships still going strong after years and years.

My Boyfriend is an excellent communicator and I can’t shut up about most things in general, so we’ve earnestly talked at length on what we can do to safeguard ourselves from some of the common pitfalls we’ve observed. We are both extremely committed to this for the long-haul and we’ve attempted to go over every situation possible to ensure we’re prepared for whatever is thrown our way.

But the thing is, and what I learned from this message, is that that is just impossible. Situations will come up that we never imagined. We can love each other madly, we can take every preventable measure gleaned from watching our friends, and we can do our best to ward off uncertainties.  But that is no guarantee we will be each other’s Happily Ever After.

I think I can say with all certainty that when one starts a significant relationship, everyone involved is hoping for the Fairy-Tale Ending. No one wants to end up resenting or hating or leaving their partner, storming out the door seething and screaming, “I FUCKING WISH YOU WERE DEAD!”

So why is it some relationships persist and some don’t? 

I have no idea.

And that’s what I want to ask you guys – what is the the number one thing you’ve found that has made your relationship last? Or on the flip-side, perhaps ended it? What is important to remember when you meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with?

Please sound off in the comments below with your thoughts.

I’d love to hear them.

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21 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans. And A Question.”

  1. Be alone some. Learn about yourself. Be happy. Be secure. Make your own money and your own life that your willing to share. Select wisely. Then put the other person first. Don’t keep score. Don’t worry about what’s in it for you and if your getting enough. Trust that the person you fell in love with is worrying about that. Put that person first. Take that risk. You’ll know soon enough if it’s reciporcated. Accept and enjoy love. Rinse. Repeat.

    1. This is such interesting advice – thank you! I like it because it makes sense – if you take care of yourself first, you can then focus on the other person and put them first. I hadn’t thought of that…

  2. My personal opinion is, create your own “secret recipe” for your relationship that works for you guys and don’t worry what everyone else thinks or says. People are different and if you constantly let other people have input on your happiness, you might lose sight of what lies within you and your partner.

    1. Thank you SP, that is as good point. I really do feel we have a strong sense of what works for us for now & in the future – but I find it interesting & helpful to hear from those in relationships who have weathered storms, made it decades. It adds a good perspective.

  3. How well do you handle adversity together? It’s easy to stay connected when things are good but when things get hard will you have each other’s back or will one or both of you crumble and run.

  4. For me there are many important things that come into play, but the number one thing is trust. In my past relationships once that was broken, it was pretty much over. Hard to come back from that. You definitely don’t want to be second-guessing and questioning everything. If you have trust and respect for one another, I think you can make it through pretty much anything.

  5. I think one of the benefits of starting later in life is that you know who you are. The other person must respect that and not try to change you. You also have to do the same. I have always tried to make sure we remain individuals who are in a relationship. I don’t identify my self as a mother first and then wife but rather is choose to see my various roles as part of my entire identity. I don’t always invite R out with me and I encourage him to remember his interests outside of being a husband and father. You have to be happy to make the other people in your life happy. Also communication helps but I think you are fine there. The difficulty arises when you keep it bottled up inside. It’s a lot of work when it comes to being honest with yourself and then sharing that with your partner.

    1. Thank you so much, Fabi. I definitely agree that starting later in life is a benefit in the fact that we know ourselves better. Honestly, I don’t even think I was ready to be in this relationship when we first reconnected 2 years ago. I just was too out of sorts in my own life. Now I feel much more secure and therefore it prevents me from making unrealistic demands on the relationship. And I agree – you just can’t think you can change the other person. You better accept who they are now or you’re going to run into some trouble! Thanks again for the comment.

  6. Choose your battles. If you’re angry about something, give it at least 24 hours before mentioning it. If you are less mad than you were 24 hours ago, then give it another 24 hours. If you’re still mad, then bring it up. 95% of fights aren’t worth having, and this is a good way to filter out those 95%

    Prenup, prenup, prenup. Even for a relationship that doesn’t result in marriage. A contract up front on how to deal with money issues will prevent conflict in the future. And you can always revisit and revise the contract.

    Also, have some sort of provision that allows for sex outside of the relationship. It might just be a Vegas Clause, or a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, or a set period of time each year where no rules apply (what’s that film with Ethan Hawk? Kinda like that).

    Why do most relationships end? Money and/or affairs. So you may as well be rational. What’s that I hear? You don’t think you can be rational. Then I give the relationship 5 years, tops.

    1. This is fantastic advice, Paul. I especially like the idea of realizing what causes most relationships to fail and being pro-active in those areas. I suppose if you’re really in it for the long-haul, you better be prepared for those things to come up. Really interesting and helpful perspective! Thank you.

  7. Such a great question Tracey and the replies have been right on the money. I guess the only thing I could add is that we haven’t give up. Marriage is complicated and yet stupidly simple. Be loving, whether it’s to yourself, your partner, or the stranger at the grocery store. The challenge is that there are days when I’m exhausted, days when all my emotional baggage is in my face, and days when I just want to strangle the man laying next to me. We had some tough moments. Moments I’ve wanted to run away from. A lot of shit that I don’t want to stick around for. But I stay. Listen if it was a really shitty marriage I get the hell out. Our problems are gold platted issues, so for today, at this moment I’m not giving up. I love this man. He’s willing to grow, I’m willing to grow, and we work at it. One day at a time.

    Love the honesty you’re putting into your blog! Amazing! I’m usually just a voyer on the internet but this hits close to home because I’m married, we have kids, we work hard, and it’s not easy right now. It’s a lot of work. But holy crap is it worth it!!

    1. Larissa – thank you so much for this insightful & honest comment! I really appreciate it and it’s given me a lot to think about. What really struck me is there are ‘days I want to strangle the man laying next to me.’ I think that’s the #1 thing we forget when we’re in the wonderful beginnings of a new relationship. There are some times when you’re just going to really, really not like the person. And if you can accept that it will pass eventually and that you’re both still willing to grow (like you said) and work on it – well, then that’s just part and parcel of it all. And in the end it is so worth it! Thanks so much again.

  8. The hardest part is the differences we find in raising the kids, and trying to not undermine each other. We have been together since I was 21, and I still can look at him and know I want to grow old with him. Very lucky. I think reminding each other that this is life and one never knows what is around the corner so be happy in the present. This is it., life is short , there are no dress rehearsals. So be happy.

    1. Thank you so much, Julie. I think that is so important too – realizing that this is it, this is life, and it’s short. This realization I think can diffuse a lot of the discord that can occur. Just by looking at the big picture and deciding if this is really an issue that is worth being blown up. I’m thinking a lot of times it’s not 🙂 Thanks so much again for the comment!

  9. Well I can tell you, we knew that the day we stopped communicating would be the day our relationship would go to shit. And that’s exactly what happened. It’s so important to always talk even if your mad and just need a few days to simmer before you say something mad it’s important that you two talk and you don’t go to other people instead. Not only does that cause a breakdown in communication but it breaks trust because you don’t know what the other person is saying about you until the otherwise makes it known and then the respect is gone. And once trust and respect is gone in a relationship it’s really hard to rebuild that. So if I can leave you with any advice from my situation that would be it…always talk and be honest with each other, don’t hide your feelings. You each always need to know what each other is feeling. Otherwise your two ships passing in the night.

  10. When you have kids it makes it even harder to talk so you really have to make the effort to do so. I’m old fashioned in that when you take your vows it means for life, you work through your problems you don’t just bail. Unfortunately I was the only one who felt that way 😉 now we just communicate through our attorneys.

  11. Your not always going to be in love with the person or even like the person but the idea behind a great relationship is to grow yourself and together now apart. A good relationship goes in waves and that’s ok as long as you find yourself at the peak again and your not just waiting for it to get better all of the time. Sorry so much advice. No relationship is perfect you have to find your perfect and what works for you. You have to find what works for you guys as far as fighting. The idea is to do it all together. The second one is going one way and the other is left soleybworking on the marriage or relationship that’s when there will be issues. Ok I’m done. Hahah. Can you tell this is all fresh for me hahaha

    1. Thank you so much, Jenn! This is all a great perspective. I have DEFINITELY learned my lesson about going to other people. In certain circumstances and with the right people, it is okay, but most things need to be held sacred in the relationship. I also like that you and other readers have stated that you’re not going to always like each other. This is SO important and something I never thought of. Thanks so much again.

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