I am the least person I’d expect to write a relationship-related entry, but alas.
There aren’t a lot of married couples I know that are like us. Maybe that’s a good thing, because it’s not for everyone, certainly (our ways — not marriage. Although yeah, it isn’t for everyone too, lelelel). Drew and I have had many, many, many, many, many ups and downs (sometimes it surprises me how we’re still together — but I mean this in the best way), and it’s broken a lot of walls that made us (mostly me) take a bit of time before we’ve adjusted (mostly me), and accepted (mostly me) the type of couple that we are. He was the first one to be THIS self-aware, while I was still living under the standards of Society. It’s not wrong to, especially if it’s something you REALLY want and makes your relationship work, BUT if you wake up one day and you suddenly realize that your principles have changed, then I want you to know :
1.) It is completely fine.
2.) There is nothing wrong with you.
Apart from the fact that we don’t intend to have kids (which I’ve mentioned a couple of times), Drew and I aren’t also the type to celebrate Birthdays, even Anniversaries. Back in College, we would usually spend weekends at a Resort or the Beach to celebrate our Anniversary, but since we married in 2010, we’ve only celebrated once. O N C E. We aren’t big on those things. Some people I know act all aghast when they hear that Drew and I don’t celebrate basically anything. We mostly have a spur of the moment, “let’s-get-shmancy-and-eat-somewhere-nice” days, which I really love. We don’t like crowded places, we don’t like making a big deal out of certain days when it’s something we usually do out of the blue, usually (you know, like Valentines, which have on ‘normal’ days, lel). Someone once told me “but those things are important!”, and deep down I chuckled and retorted with, “says who?”.
We also aren’t very expressive around our friends and family (I think we smacked on the lips FOR THE FIRST TIME in front of my in-laws when they dropped me off at the Airport last week, lel), and through the years, we stopped being excessively expressive on Social Media. Lately, I find myself declaring my love for him directly (most of the time, all teary-eyed). I prefer it that way now, although there’s nothing wrong with a little sharing here and there sometimes. I mean, the thing is, Drew and I were together since January 2004. Our relationship didn’t start off the conventional way even then. As I said, we were never the type who’d do any form of excessive PDA, so you could imagine how pissed I was when, during a surprise Birthday celebration a few friends threw for me, we were quite ‘forced’ to give each other a kiss on the lips, and my friends ended up posting the photo on Facebook.
Is it a petty thing to get pissed about? Maybe so. But it’s our relationship, our marriage. What is ours, is ours (to be clear though, we could get pretty PDA-ish when we’re out together, we just act differently when in a group. I know we’re not the only ones).
Sometimes I think it’s because we’ve let ourselves “go” and we started to settle into the comftability (yes, this is a made-up word) of our relationship. It is true that there is a dangerous, slippery slope when you’re VERY VERY comfortable with your partner — the routine could bore you, and romance COULD die (which was the case back in 2012, we were 101% sure we were filing for an annulment, and we basically lived together as housemates for about 3 years). In relationships, there is a very thin line between comfort and death. Lately, we learned how to DANCE ON THE FREAKIN’ LINE.
I’m not here to give you a list on how you keep your relationship or marriage strong, because that defies the purpose of this entry. Personally speaking, I am very aware that I pretty much have no rights to do this, but I’m writing this to share OUR story, because I know there are quite a few out there who live like us, or could be on the path to discovering so. It’s not easy, folks. You’re going to make SO MANY mistakes but please know that if you choose to, if you decide to — you will overcome the rut you’re in.
Our marriage almost ended because I kept trying to make us live our lives by Society’s standards (I will always be blaming it on Society, because tell me — WHO ELSE PRESSURES US, REALLY? Who else makes friends and family think we should be parents before our Thirties, among other things?) We had to go through shit (understatement) just to figure out what worked for us, because it may not be true for everyone, but things really did change after marriage. It was up to us to figure those out, sort out what works, and to keep doing that. Most of our dark days was my doing, to be honest. I was the immature one, constantly comparing my own with other people’s marriages. I kept pushing him to the point that it broke him, for wanting us to live up to what people around me “advised” us. A ‘friend’ once told me that I needed a man who could CONTROL me, and that Drew just doesn’t have it in him to do so.
I know. I was shaking my head as I typed that. For starters, we were surrounded by toxic people, who followed the ways of the world, from books published in the 1800s (I was naive to actually think it’s what we needed : advise from sexists/misogynists).
THANK GOD WE BROKE FREE FROM THOSE IMBECILES (by the way — these are the people who believe that Ramsay raping Sansa on their wedding night wasn’t rape because they were married. Yes, we spent time with these people. I would like to apologize to our 2011 – 2016 selves for enduring this … there’s not even a word for those years). But then again, we wouldn’t have figured out the people we DID NOT WANT TO BE if it weren’t for them.
We’re quite content with where we are. We don’t really aspire to be #RelationshipGoals because we are so over that concept (also, there’s no such thing. We all have our own journeys in marriage and our relationships). There are too many filters on Social Media. We like the fact that we barely put out anything when it comes to us because we don’t feel the need to edit, we don’t feel the need to screen, we don’t feel the need to choose what goes out and what stays in. The good, the best, the ugly, the worst — they’re mostly just shared between us (and sometimes, MY closest friends, because I’m the one who likes to vent). OUR goal is for us to be ourselves, and I know we will continue to evolve individually, and as Husband and Wife. We take so much pride of how far we veered away from a type of category of a married couple (according to Society), because we figured it wasn’t meant for us. I mean, why must we constantly prove to others how we’re still together? A post doesn’t solidify anything. A few have shown concern because he wasn’t appearing on my Instagram (to be fair, we’ve been physically apart for nearly two years, living in different continents), but is that really *necessary?
*I may eat my words when we’re physically together again, that’s for sure. Lel.
It’s funny when I used to think how much I wanted to be treated a certain way, or how we needed to do certain things to prove our stand in our marriage (even something as simple as “to each other”), but then the independence that both he and I are currently experiencing taught us a lot about who we really are. We were basically inseparable all throughout college. The only separation we experienced then was when I started working in Jeddah while he took up a second course back home. But we’re married now.
Then again, it’s true when they say that you can’t really make a relationship work if you don’t know who you TRULY are, and when you completely LOVE YOURSELF. You have to fall in love with you first, before falling in love with and for anyone else. This is one of the few truths I believe with my entire being, in the two years I’ve lived by and with myself, and I’m pretty sure Drew feels the same way. We now feel more comfortable and confident expressing ourselves to each other, too. The most basic of things we should have learned when we were starting, we fully embrace now, especially when it comes to communicating. Really, actually communicating. We somehow had to die before we could actually start living. I will always be grateful that God blessed us with this privilege.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG with wanting to do things traditionally. Drew and I stopped wearing our wedding rings years ago, but we’ve decided to get ourselves new bands when we have the funds and start wearing them again. We might do something nice for our anniversary someday, but the whole point is (and it is worth saying over and over) : do things YOUR WAY. They have to be done wholeheartedly, and for your sake. Not for anyone else’s. At the end of the day, you’re only sharing your bed with each other.
I want you to remember that people outside your relationship mostly don’t know shit about your business (TRUST YOUR GUT. Know when it is right advise, or trash advise). Your relationship is yours. Listen to what you both need, not to what society and tradition made/makes you believe you need. People will always have opinions about how you should live your life, and trust me, most of of the time, THEY ARE WRONG. There are only a handful of people who gave me the hard truth about our situation and how to get past it, and it took awhile before they really got through to me, but it matters to know to WHOM you entrust your marriage’s / relationship’s ordeals to. It’s not for “public consumption”, as I made that mistake many, many times (I can still rant privately though, hrhrhrhrhr). When it comes to our personal relationships, it is always TRIAL and ERROR. You both have to be willing to take those steps, and occasionally miss. You know, like playing Super Mario.
And while we’re at it, may I remind you : A child does not strengthen a marriage. If you’re going to have a child for the sake of making your marriage stronger, please rethink your decision. THERE WERE COUNTLESS OF PEOPLE WHO TOLD US ON THE BRINK OF ANNULMENT, THAT A CHILD WOULD SAVE US. Like it was our child’s responsibility to make us better people. I mean, we were both broken individuals — WHY WOULD YOU BRING A CHILD IN A MESSY SITUATION TO BEGIN WITH? Why would you advise people who aren’t responsible enough to handle their own lives, to bring another to look after? How fucked up is that? While it may have worked out for other people, there is always a chance that it won’t be the same for us. Another human being added into our then unsolvable equation was too much of a risk. I AM SO GLAD WE DID NOT REACH THAT LEVEL OF STUPID to give in to “advise”. Drew would not have been able to go after what his heart truly wanted, I would not have learned to be independent, and we both would not have been able to know ourselves the way we do now. I doubt either one of us are still here if we listened to other people. Put yourselves first. Put your lives as individuals first. It is not selfish to, it is in fact the BEST thing you could do for your relationship, and your lives.
You can be inspired by people, but that’s different from setting them as goals — which is unhealthy, and unrealistic.
Staying married and strengthening what you have is a choice you make and work on achieving every single day. Just do YOU, my friends. There are only two people in a marriage / relationship.
*That is how you survive it.
*Not advise. It is essentially how marriage works.