At the Bottom of Everything

It’s an act of love; coffee in the morning, going to work, washing the clothes, taking the dogs out—a regular life, boring love. – Jim Parsons

After nearly five years together, my boyfriend and I are beginning to watch relationships of very close friends wither down. I never imagined that at twenty years old, I would know people who were getting divorces or breaking up and having disputes over lease agreements or property.

In all honesty, it could happen to any of us. I was never shown what a successful relationship was, and I often make decisions based off irrational fears that I may be doing it wrong. With that being said, seeing years of work fall apart for other people has prompted me to ask myself what breaks it down? What are our limits? Do I have one?

About two years into my relationship I  was getting ready to leave for college, and I remember my worst fear (like many other 17 year old girls) was a long distance relationship. Now, distances are the least of my worries. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the difficulties of long distance relationships, and I’m not disputing that they can put strains on people. However, in my case, I don’t feel like it is really cause for concern. I don’t worry about him cheating (not in the slightest), I can handle being on my own if I need to be, and while I would hate having to miss him, it would always be nice having someone to miss.

At this point, you may be thinking that I probably don’t give a rats ass about my boyfriend, but you’re wrong. A close friend of mine went into the Army shortly after he started dating a girl from home. He went to boot camp, and with months of distance they decided that they would get married. Shortly after his tour in Afghanistan, his service time for the Army was up, and they moved back home for their first months of normal, married civilian life. Barely 6 months into the normal, boring life that is marriage, they are getting a divorce.

I’m not hating on the wonderful mess that is normal, boring love as Jim Parsons put it. I’m also not disputing that the issue lies in the fact that they married very early into the relationship. My point is actually that normal, boring love is hard. The distance may be difficult and it may put a wedge between you, but generally, the distance can’t be blamed on anyone, and a lot of times, it brings you closer. I know I sound like an old lady spouting old adages about absence and love, but hear me out.

I have spent the Summer working 8-5 Monday through Friday, wishing for the days when all I had to do was study for a test. The worst part of my day is kissing my boyfriend goodbye on the mornings that we don’t carpool to the train station. When I get home, I fix dinner and do laundry and watch Netflix documentaries about wildlife populations. Sometimes I’m so tired, I end up falling asleep at 8, and waking up the next morning at 6.

Finding the time to acknowledge my love during all of this gets difficult. Of course it is still there, but the immensity of that emotion from the early days fades, not just with us, but with everyone. I love my boring love. I love the days when it is not so boring; but I think that the key to making it work is not to expect a homecoming at the end of everyday. You can’t always have scripted airport hugs or long, deep conversations. Sometimes there will be nothing to talk about, and you have to accept the silence without trying to force something to be what it isn’t.

At the end of the day, you are partners. In crime, in love, in business, in emotions. Too many people have an ideal of relationships that they hold on a pedestal to look to for guidance. It’s all fake. One of my pet peeves is when people say, “marriage is hard.” Marriage isn’t hard. Being in a committed relationship is hard. Being around someone day in and day out and not starting to hate them is hard. Budgeting finances together, cleaning out junk, arguing about who did the dishes last, and who took the dog out, and who left the top off the toothpaste — these things are hard.  When you begin to view love as anything but a partnership, you’re doomed.

I have had moments of fear and doubt because I was exhausted from arguing day in and day out. I get tired of having the same arguments that always end in the same way. But at the end of the day, I spend the most private parts of my life with someone who shares my values, my ambitions, my hopes. We may not agree on how to get to those things, but we share the same fundamental drive. When I have doubts and when I get fed up, I realize that the person I just slammed the door on is my best friend, and there is very little that is worth losing that over.

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