Stage One: Find Man, Stage Two: Live Happily Ever After

Couple in bed having relationship problems

As a woman who is constantly thinking about her future and planning ahead, some people are surprised when I tell them that stories and moments from my past tend to replay themselves over and over again in my mind. For example, the other day, I started to think about what the topic of this blog post would be, and then proceeded to strike up a one hour conversation with myself, replaying my relationships from the past ten years and remembering what went wrong. Looking back, it’s weird to say, but I’m happy that I’ve aged. I enjoy remembering the good times of the last decade, but I definitely wouldn’t want to live them out again.

However, I can’t help but think about the relationship that I have with my boyfriend Matt and how it’s evolved. Matt and I met ten years ago, and were good friends for two years before we started dating. We broke up after our first three years together, and then reconciled after 18 months. We’ve been back together for over three years, and I’ve noticed a lot of changes over the course of our time together. Thus, prompting me to write about the different stages of a relationship. What you had, what you wanted, what you might miss, what you have now, and what you hope is in store for the future. Take the journey with me!

  1. The strong, emotional bond of young love: Depending on your age, this stage can be a bit different for everyone, however, there is one, common denominator: passion. This can be physical, emotional, you name it. I remember when we first started dating, we would be together all day, then go to our separate homes, and call each other three hours later. Looking back, I wonder, what the hell was there to talk about? We had just spent 8 plus hours together? Then, I remembered, we were just beginning to figure each other out, digging deeper into one another’s likes, dislikes, etc. There was also a stronger, romantic, emotional connection. There were a lot of “I love you’s” exchanged, talk of how wonderful the other person was, planning the future together, etc. To me, the best way to describe it was being in a Disney princess movie. You’re Ariel, he’s Prince Eric. He’s ready to hurdle himself into the ocean for you, and your mind is clouded with thoughts of the other person. You never want to let go of their warm embrace, and then some.
  2. The Intellectual Stage: Next, comes the intellectual, deeper meaning stage. You’ve already figured each other out (for the most part), so there’s not a lot left to talk about on that front. So, you start discussing ideas, world news, politics, the hard stuff. It’s your time to really gage what the other person believes in, and if you can see your relationship going all the way. You’ve come to realize that looks won’t last for forever, so, you have to see if the conversation will. This is also the time when you figure out how the other person responds to shit that life throws their way. Do they come up with solutions? Do they get mad?
  3. The Mature/Grown Up Phase: Shit. Gets. Serious. You start talking about living together, and you essentially are working towards compromising all of your assets. Sometimes, this phase can make or break couples. Unfortunately, you have to put on your big girl/boy pants and deal with real life problems. Will we have enough to feed ourselves this month if we buy that new television? Finances are never a fun thing to talk about. But, it’s important to try and keep the mood light and realize this person is your best friend. You should be able to bring open and honest communication to the table. And, when all else fails, laugh.

Through all of these stages, I have learned that as people grow older and change, so do relationships. The two biggest issues with couples are expectations and communication. For example, say that during the beginning of your relationship, your significant other called you every night before bed just to say, “I love you.” But, now that you’re living together, your partner doesn’t even say, “I love you” before bed at all. You miss this, and start to wonder why he/she doesn’t do it anymore. Every night you go to bed, wishing the other person a “goodnight,” and hoping, silently expecting them to say, “I love you.” I mean, it would be nice to throw in there every once in awhile. But, it never happens. Months go by; you sit at night with this silent frustration. You may even start becoming passive aggressive, etc.

Some people hold on to that anger, and over time, little things that have changed start to piss you off. As you grow together, you may take out your frustrations on the other person instead of simply stating, “why don’t you tell me you love me before bed every night?” Your relationship becomes the question, “Why don’t you?” You forget about all of the things that he/she does for you, and you only focus on what’s slipped through the cracks.

Some of you might be like me. You might be too nervous to bring up your questions or concerns. If you’re like me, you always feel that people have enough on their minds, and you really need to pick and choose your battles. Sometimes, when I get frustrated, I ask myself, Am I going to turn this into one of those battles? I’m trying so hard to “let it go” that I’m sacrificing my opinion.

I’ve made a promise to myself over the past few weeks to start becoming more honest with Matt. If I’m upset about something, it’s time to raise my voice. If I wonder why he hasn’t done something, it’s time for me to say, “you used to do xyz for me. I miss that. I would really appreciate it if every once in awhile, we could make xyz a thing again.” It’s doesn’t pay to get mad at the other person for not meeting your “silent expectations.” If you want something, ask politely, and go after it. Men and women cannot read each other’s minds. It’s hard enough to figure out the language of the opposite sex as it is, and now we have to silently figure it out? I don’t think so.

If none of what I’ve said has made sense, or you think you’ve just wasted your precious time reading this article, I’m going to sum it up right here. “If you never ask for doggy style, all you’ll get is missionary.”

Granny Smith – over and out

A Different Kind of ‘I Miss You’

I miss you

This past week, my boyfriend Matt embarked on a journey to Hong Kong for business. I missed him A LOT, but I didn’t realize how the ‘art of missing someone’ can have many different layers.

In general, Matt and I live about 45 minutes from each other and see one another once or twice a week (depending on our schedules). When he’s not around during the week, I miss him and wonder how he’s doing and what he’s been up to. But, when he traveled to the other side of the world, I missed him in a different sense of the word.

When Matt’s 45 minutes away, we have email, text, phone calls, you name it, to help keep us connected. When he was overseas, his phone didn’t work and the only form of communication we had was with Facebook. And, seeing as how Hong Kong is 13 hours ahead of our time zone, our communication consisted of shooting a message to each other every day for the other to read during their free time.

It was hard knowing that I couldn’t pick up the phone and text, “what are you up to?” and get an instant response, let alone any response. It was especially hard if I had a bad day or wanted some advice and realized I couldn’t reach out. I was lucky that he was able to use Facebook to connect. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hear from him at all during the trip and was going to have to sit at home twiddling my thumbs until he made it home.

Needless to say when he came back, I felt a huge sense of relief. I felt a burden of worry lifted off of my shoulders, and I couldn’t wait to hear about his trip and wrap my arms around him. Knowing that he’s safe and home makes me feel amazing.

This instance also made me think about what family members of individuals in the army go through every year. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like waking up every morning knowing that your loved one is on the other side of the world facing potential danger and that you might not see them again. I give a lot of credit to those families and thank every member or our armed forces. I went a week without much contact with my significant other, I can’t imagine going for a year (or multiple years) and having the threat of danger weighing over the situation.

In what other ways have you missed someone?

Granny Smith – over and out

The Other Side Of Depression

depression

In my last post, I talked a bit about my parents and their recent struggle with one another. That post made me think about a topic that I haven’t covered but semi-relates to the previous post; depression.

However, I’m not going to write an article that articulates the warning signs of depression, or what it’s like being depressed. Many of you have probably read those articles, or, if you have a family member or friend that’s experienced depression, you’ve witnessed everything first hand. What I am going to write about is what it’s like for those on the other side of depression; the family members and friends (such as some of you reading this) who sit in the emotional sidecar and get pulled every which way. I’ve been there, and I’m hoping that if there is anyone out there with depression that this piece can help demonstrate what it’s like for those that love them.

1. My Mother: I never knew that my mother was prescribed anti-depressants until about a year ago. If you’ve ever met my mother, you’d think she was one of the sweetest, nicest people in the world. When I found out about the anti-depressants, my heart sank. Thoughts of, “am I a good enough daughter?” ran through my mind constantly. I worried that if I caused her trouble or made a rude comment that she would have an awful day and rely on her medication even more.

I felt so lost and I didn’t know what to do to make it better. Should I be spending more time with her during the week and on weekends? What if I volunteered to cook a few family meals? Do the laundry? Wash the dishes a few times a week? Would any of these make her feel less burdened, happier, healthier?

When she retired to care for my brother and the house full-time, I knew she was happy at first, but her joy quickly faded. As if she didn’t think her life was exciting or meaningful before she quit, now, her daily routine consists of household chores and running errands. She was and is lost. She wants to go back to work, but she doesn’t think she has any skills. I constantly worry that one day she will just up and leave because she’s sick of doing the same thing day-in and day-out.

I try to get her out of the house and go on adventures as much as possible, but nothing changes. She’s still lost; I’m lost. I don’t know what to do to make it better. I don’t know how to help her, and every time I ask, I get the same response, “nothing.” But, she’s living in a state of ‘nothing,’ and ‘nothing’ can be a dangerous thing.

2. My Boyfriend: Meeting Matt, you would have no idea that he used to severely suffer from depression. He was a freshman in college and I was a senior in high school. We were living in different zip codes (something we’ve gotten used to) for the first time, and he wasn’t making as many friends at school as he would’ve liked. He had also lost contact with a lot of individuals from our high school, and he felt more alone than ever before.

Almost every night of my senior year was spent sitting by my computer with a TV tray off to the side. While I did my homework on the TV tray, I would be talking to Matt via MSN messenger. The conversations went back and forth for hours. But, the conversations were the same every day. Every day he told me that he had an ‘ok’ day and was feeling worthless. He felt that he didn’t have any friends and wasn’t good at what he was doing. He would then advise a plan to get more friends, or to reconnect with the old ones, and it would fail…miserably…for no good reason!

It was hard watching him struggle. I told him over and over again how much I loved him and gave him advice on what to do about his extreme sadness, or reassured him about his plans for the future. We saw each other almost every weekend, and I even tried bringing a few of my friends to visit him..but nothing worked. On multiple occasions, he brought up suicide. Even though he said he wouldn’t do it because he loved me, I stated that I was the only thing keeping him on Earth. How could I give up on him? What could I do? I thought I’d tried everything.

This pattern continued on into my first year of college, but it got better. I was still on messenger with him every night, but it was hard to see each other every weekend. Eventually, we broke up. But, when we did break up, he was at least on his feet. Of course, we’re back together now, and he’s doing much better.

For both of these beautiful people in my life, I had no idea what I could do to make it go away. I tested multiple ideas, did what I thought was right…what THEY wanted me to do…and no matter what, meds or not, I couldn’t get through to them. It’s something that they need to overcome on their own, but they need help just as much as the rest of us do with our daily lives. Talking to specialists or reading articles can work, but only so much. To those that are depressed, we love you, and we’re hurting because we see you hurting. Communicate with us, help us help you.

Granny Smith – over and out