Today, fourteen years ago, Nick and I went on our first date. And while our wedding anniversary is in November, I personally put a little more stock in this anniversary today. We were together for five years before we got married, committed to each for a lot longer to celebrate today more than the day we got married. And so today, fourteen years on, I look back and see so much in our journey together. We’ve had seasons of incredible experiences, of so much love. And we’ve also had seasons of dark lows and moments that are painful to look back on. As is the case with every relationship out there and if someone does tell you they don’t have those times, those darkest and heaviest moments when loving someone, they’re either lying to you or to themselves because love isn’t always rainbows and life changing moments. In fact, I’ve learned over fourteen years of loving someone that the rainbows and the life changing moments are often the rarities. In reality, a relationship is the daily routine, the stress of work and life, the fights about not doing chores, the moments when your heart is breaking because of something they said or did. In reality, love is often tired and exhausted from everything the world throws at us. But it’s also simple moments that mean the world, like having someone to hold you when the world is falling apart around you. It’s laying on the couch together watching one of your favorite shows, it’s a partner holding you up and pushing you to succeed. It’s someone who believes in you, someone who knows you better than anyone on the planet. Here are the fourteen things I’ve learned in fourteen years about love, some lessons heartbreaking, some exhilarating. But such is love right?
We’re all just trying to get by. For a long time, I believed that in a relationship we’d always be stronger together, and I do think that’s true to an extent, but honestly, we’re all just individual people trying to do our best on a daily basis. And we’re all just human, sometimes that means we are just ourselves and just trying to get by and that’s ok. Just because you love someone, doesn’t mean that you’re problems go away and in reality sometimes, that can make it even harder to have someone else to worry about too. Marriage and relationships doesn’t take two people and make them one, it’s just two people trying to live a life together, but each person is still themselves.
There will be seasons. Before Nick and I were together, I had always sort of thought that relationships would have their ups and downs but it would be more consistent. After a few years together though, I realized that that isn’t always the case. For us, our ups and downs have come more in seasons than consistently throughout our relationship. There are specific times in our lives together that I look back on and just feel sadness and heartbreak, remembering what we were going through at the time. And for us, it seems that our ups and downs, our highs and lows, happen all at once for a period of time and then it works itself out eventually, for whatever reasons. Going into a relationship, I would say to know that there will be seasons of your life, both good and bad, and it’s all about just riding the wave and knowing there will be light at the end of the tunnel in one way or another.
Love can be magic. When I look back our life together for the past fourteen years, I see the good and the bad. But truthfully, there is a magic in loving someone, in the experiences together. Nick and I have explored the world together and there have been intoxicating moments making those memories together. Moments that truly I couldn’t have envisioned or dreamt up. Loving someone, especially for a long period of time and going through life together can be hard but it can also be incredible.
The small moments are the best. For us, our rituals and our small moments together have always meant so much to me. Watching our favorite tv shows, enjoying a weeknight meal together or laughing so hard it hurts are all moments for me that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
You can be in love and have your heart breaking. Love won’t always be simple and in our fourteen years together, Nick and I have both broken each other’s hearts several times. We’ve said things we shouldn’t have, we’ve made decisions we shouldn’t have. And while it may not be heartbreaks that break you up, that feeling is still very real and should be felt. The fulfillment in a relationship though, is learning to forgive and finding a way back to each other even when you’ve been hurt.
Having someone to hold you is truly the best. In moments in my life when the world felt as if it was tearing at the seams around me, having Nick by my side has saved me. Having someone that you love beyond everything else, having them hold you up when you can’t do it yourself, that’s the simplest and truest form of love.
We all have issues. Don’t think that just by loving someone or marrying someone that all of your issues, or theirs, go away. We’ve all got baggage but it’s how we handle the issues that defines us.
Life is an adventure, embrace the possibilities. My journey as an adult is completely intertwined in Nick’s because we’ve been together since we were 18. And over the years, we’ve made decisions together, chasing our journey together. Have we each made sacrifices? Yes. Have we also come farther together than we would have on our own? 100% yes. Life is an adventure and doing it together is even better.
Let each other bring out the best in the other. Nick brings out things in me that no one else in the world does and I bring out things in him the same way. Loving someone that is compatible with your personality will bring out the best in each other and make you better people along the way.
If you really love someone, it doesn’t matter what happens around you, as long as you have each other. Nick and I have always said, and felt, that regardless of our situation, whether we’ve been living on a tiny amount of money in a tiny apartment or getting bonuses at our jobs and buying a house, one things has remained the same: It doesn’t matter where you are or where you live or what your circumstances are, you can deal with and face it together if you really love that person.
Love is not spoken in words. The greatest love letters aren’t letters at all, they are actions. Love is spoken in actions, in doing things for each other that mean more than words. Love is bringing something home for the person you love, just because. It’s choosing that person over something else. Love is not spoken in words, it’s what you’re doing that’s more important.
Places will evoke memories. There are places that will always evoke memories for me completely tied to Nick. Places that forever will be linked to us, that will forever bring back both good and bad moments in our life. And those places will always call out his name when I visit them.
Love takes work. It’s true what they say: “marriage is a job.” A relationship with someone does take work, that’s the honest and very unromantic truth. It does take effort and constantly needs tweaks to make it better or work well for both of you. It’s also especially true as you both grow and change, so should your relationship grow and change.
Falling in love is an amazing feeling, but loving someone for decades is even better. Falling in love is one of those feelings that you never forget and it’s a sort of high, it doesn’t last all that long but it feels like you’re on top of the world. I would argue however, that decades later, that years later, a long lasting, strong bond together is even better. When you know someone better than everyone else, when that person knows you inside and out, when you look back at the good and the bad and know that you wouldn’t trade any of it for something else, that love is more fulfilling than falling in love a million times.