8 Hardcore Things I Learned After One Year of My Relationship

Stephanie C. Odili
Aug 9, 2019 · 5 min read
Author and boyfriend’s image shot by Buchi Okoro.

I must start by saying that I am in a happy, loving, committed relationship that is growing and satisfying. However, no one tells you about how hard it is to maintain such a relationship. You enter into a new relationship with so much excitement, love, romance, fire, and thrill. We are often mistaken by thinking it’ll continue that way without hard work and constant ‘working at it’. Towards the end of my relationship’s first year, I realized that we weren’t going to last if certain things didn't change. One of those would be to clearly understand each other. So, on our anniversary night, which he romantically and beautifully set up, I ruined it by fighting again. What specifically happened, I don’t remember, but I knew that we couldn't continue like this. So, while he ranted, I did something I’d never really done. I took notes. The notes I took, have been compiled and arranged into the below points as to what I learned, hoping that someone else can learn from it too.

What your partner believes is important should be treated as such:

Mine believed that my mindset was incapable of changing and that I was not ready for the change that I seek. After all, he said, I’d asked for this ‘change’ a million times. Those words were like a hammer being rammed into my head. Sometimes, we have an idea of what we want, but our actions prove otherwise. I genuinely wanted change but was unable to create change because my mindset wasn't set on the change I sought. I didn't know or even see that. So, I finally told him, and myself (my mindset) ‘It’s my anniversary and I really do seek this change because I don’t want us making these same ol’ mistakes in the new year or ever again’.

My partner also believed that I summarize and just put together the worst versions of things he says. I blame that on my being a journalist. A news story should answer who, what, where and why. So, when we have an argument, I instantly summarise it with key take away points which now happens to be the ‘worst of the conversation’. What was I to do? So, what I decided was not to let him think I just make a summary of his pain points or of our issue. Instead, I listen and make a wholesome statement by asking ‘are you saying XYZ…?” Try it and see.

Learn to let things go:

Honestly, the takeaway point for me, and hopefully for you would be to let things go, as well as leave things be. I am an organizer, this means that I am incapable of leaving a shoe out of place or even allowing things to stay arranged. Sentences must be corrected, shelves must be arranged, issues must be dealt with and all conversations must be over-explained. A clash of personality. Let things go! Leave things be! Don’t hold on to words! You’ll always be angry and hurting. Let go.

Accommodate:

Be willing to accommodate disorganization. If it affects me (you)that much, then do it myself (yourself).

Communicate often and effectively:

I never answered a simple question without going off. Till I eventually figured that it is possible for us to avoid argument if I just answer the questions asked when asked, and we can move on. Not answering his question makes him upset, which then gets me upset that he’s upset. Before we know it, we start a new fight, having fought over 5 different things in the space of 30 minutes. I decided to answer questions and follow through to avoid things going south. Just answering questions asked, no matter how ridiculous or offensive was a lot better than fighting for an hour. Getting angry doesn’t solve anything.

Also, don’t comment on and about everything. This was me. Everything was cause for talk. I believed everything must be spoken about, after all, how else can we live if discussions about everything didn't come up. But it's draining and absolutely not worth it. I learned that commenting on the way he held his phone because it wasn't the way I thought was right, was completely absurd and I can see why it can be annoying. I thought it was communication but can now see how its unimportant and prep for a fight. I devised a formula of: ‘Just relax and breathe. Ask yourself if what you’re about to say is necessary and kind.’

Again, I was also unable to live in silence—a form of communication on its own. I felt that we must always talk to each other. I mean, how can we be together in a room and have one minute of silence? Absurd! Until the fights surrounding it became excessive.

Understand more:

I didn't realize that I had to deal with divided attention—basically, not always being on his mind. It was crazy finding out that I was not 100% always on his mind. I complained about it so much that I saw it began to box him and made me resentful of him and questioned his feelings for me. something will suffer. Once I understood that it started getting brighter.

Listen.

Listen. Listen. Listen.

So much can be gotten from actually keeping quiet and listening so a voice that isn't yours.

Express and allow your emotions to run:

Understand that you and your partner’s mind reacts to pain and stress differently. Don’t expect them to be anything other what you met them as. Stop trying to get them to become the incredible Hulk or to become as soft as silk. Anger stems from a reaction to things/events/people. Be compassionate.

Be open-minded and carefree:

The hard way, I learned to manage expectations. Don’t expect so much and don’t hope too much. Expect nothing if we're being honest. That way, you can genuinely be happy when something awesome happens

Once you start putting standards, they’ll always fall short. And things will never get right. It’s human nature, even for you and me the ‘perfectionist’.

Finally, prove yourself and your partner wrong by challenging yourself to change, just as I have. Breathe and then act.

Stephanie C. Odili

Written by

Novelist, poet, and editor. Purchase my books here—http://stephanieodili.com/books/

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