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How to Survive a Hard Relationship

What is the secret to making a relationship that is seemingly cursed, become your best relationship yet?

The prince sweeps in on the white stallion as the maiden runs out of the chateau, with her perfect blond hair blowing in the breeze. They have found each other and now will ride off into the sunset for a lifetime of love.

All I can say is… bullshit.

As someone who worked for Disney, I am quite familiar with this scene, but my personal experience is worlds away. I am a romantic, I always have been a romantic. But in the total of four relationships, none have been up to the Disney standard. Three were freaking disasters, and I can’t exactly say that the current one would seem any better from the outside, seeing as we broken up currently for about the eighth time in our relationship.

Let’s start at the beginning. My most current boyfriend and I met both working at a wedding (cue the “Awwws” from anyone listening). But that’s where the cuteness ends. We lived three hours away from each other, and though we were immediately in love with each other, there was the fact that he was a stout 27, to my petite 20. Cue endless weekends spent in other cities and equally endless fights. I won’t get into our particular brands of relationship argument nonsense, but there is one thing that I have learned from having the same fight over and over again: love doesn’t have to be easy for it to be real.

I love this man.

Every time I think that he has hurt me too much, that I hate him and that I just need to move on, somehow love keeps bringing me back. Like right now, I am sitting at home writing this while the love of my life is less than 15 minutes away, but last time I went to see him he wouldn’t open the door. Most girls would now be blowing him off and pursuing other relationships. And I tried to think of it that way, but even after being asked out twice in the last two days, I cannot give up on him.

Wanna know the secret?

You have to understand each other. Because right now, just like all of the times before, I know that he is scared and triggered from past wounds, I know he didn’t mean all of it. He feels like he needs to protect himself, and after having a couple of days to reflect on it, I know what I did that made him feel that way. Now, like most humans, we often fail to act on what we know. I know to respect his personal space when he asks for more autonomy, but I didn’t. He knows that I think he is an amazing man, lover, and boyfriend, but when I questioned something, he felt like I was being a prick that didn’t appreciate him. We both felt scared and exposed, and he wanted to be anywhere that was away from me. But I know him, and all I felt was guilt and like I wanted to protect him from what was happening. He is the one I love, and no matter how mad at me he is, I still believe in him and his good heart.

I mean… don’t get me wrong, I am pissed as hell, but I still want to take care of him (I am a very strong Enneagram 2), spend time with him, and talk to him every second that we are apart. I still know that he is one of the most beautiful and complicated souls that I have ever known. I know that he still loves me. I know that with God’s help, we can be a beautiful relationship.

So maybe this is a two-part secret…

Because you can stay in love by understanding the person, but you have to act on it to stay together and create a healthy relationship. That is what I am hoping for in the future. I want for him to trust me, and vice versa. I want to have fun and not let either of our fears and damage from other relationships get in the way.

Also, I can't state enough: GO SEE A COUNSELOR!!! Even if you don’t have your eyes on marriage, counseling is the single greatest thing that my partner and I ever did. It taught us how to listen to and appreciate each other, and to understand why we act the way do in relationships (hint, hint: it’s the parent’s fault).

So, creating a good, solid healthy relationship from a really hard one requires hope. You have to keep hoping and working together.

Side note: Only do this if you are working together: never try to go back to an abusive relationship or one where the other partner cares nothing for what you want, need, and are like in your deepest self.

Find someone who loves the you that not everyone gets to see, and then fight for them. Even if that means giving them space to prove your love, once you find the soul that speaks to yours, don’t ever let them go. Be smart, know them and speak to their love languages, respect them, and let your love grow. Have fun and revel in each other’s differences.

I am thankful for this relationship that has taught me the true meaning of love. But maybe my pitfalls from not acting on what I know will help you avoid ones in your own lives.

And baby, if you are reading this: I love you, and desperately want to have you home. Thank you for being my biggest blessing.

Peace. Love. Real Life. 

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