Whats it really like, an adult relationship... minus the fantasy?
February 2, 2013 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Because I am prone to bouts of idealization and sometimes don't have my feet rooted in reality, I want to hear from those who are happily married or in a committed relationship with someone with whom they plan to build a life with. I have *not one* real life example of a healthy functioning adult relationship, and although I have periods of loneliness, I can't imagine living like any of the people around me do. Are all relationships just people fitting into each others dysfunctions? Are there real ones out there that work, or is that the fantasy ideal that we all chase after and never achieve?

You don't need to rattle though the questions, but I often wish I could ask happily paired couples things like:
Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?
Did it start off with chemistry and settle into something more comfortable or did it start off as a solid friendship and take off from there?
Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?
Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package and to what extent are flaws and shortcoming acceptable without your partners desire to improve on that?
Do you feel like you 'settled' for less than you aimed for in the desire of your youth?
Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?

Are you truly happy with this person, or do you sometimes have doubts and wonder 'what if' about another or imagine your life without them?
posted by tenaciousmoon to Human Relations (18 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
 
(I'm on the run so I can't dig them up right now, but there have been a few questions along these lines in the past few years, so search the archives if you want more input than you get to this question. Hope you get the answers you're seeking.)
posted by salvia at 2:45 PM on February 2, 2013


I'll take a whack at answering.

It absolutely started chemistry first, friendship next. We both know a lot of stuff, but it isn't usually the same stuff. That merging knowledge process is very enjoyable.

There are flaws to accept, and flaws to insist on resolving. My wife and I had a couple issues which if we hadn't worked out, we couldn't have stayed together. But we wanted to, so we did, and here we are. The other kind, the acceptable ones, are mostly just the same issues you would have with anyone you live with. She doesn't put the utensils in the dirty utensil holder, which makes it harder for me to do the dishes. Annoying as hell, and I bitch about it often, but that's nothing that would affect our underlying bond.

I feel like I got way, way, luckier than I could have hoped for as a teenager. If my teenage self met me, I'd get a Maverick/Goose windmill high-five for who I married. He'd probably be disappointed I'm not an astronaut, though.

I think being married should, in general, be relaxing. My marriage is. It is so much easier to only have to make one woman very happy, instead of worrying about so many others I might meet one day.

Can I imagine my life without her? Sure, I think almost everyone could. I think a better question is, "If you could go back in time and fix your biggest mistake, would you do it if it risked you not meeting her?" The answer to that question is no. Prior to meeting my wife, there was a ton of stuff I would have changed, given a time machine. After meeting my wife, there is nothing I would change, because all those events (good and bad) led me to her.

I wouldn't normally suggest someone should just believe something they hear from a random person on the internet, but I hope you believe this: you absolutely can have a marriage that is just where you want to be: a relationship that feels right, and a partner that you look into her eyes and you know who you are.
posted by BeeDo at 2:53 PM on February 2, 2013 [26 favorites]


Yes, they are out there. You can have a real, happy, adult relationship in which you connect with another person in every important way to the point where you can't imagine your life without someone, and in which your partner's flaws and shortcomings are not really something you spend much time thinking about. I could type a whole thing specific to my situation but I'm not sure that would be helpful - just know that yes, you can have it.

I do think it's rare, though, and it's discouraging to see people around us in situations that are less than ideal. In the happy relationships I have seen, the commonalities seem to be shared values on the big issues like money, family and division of household labor; truly open and honest communication that does not allow resentments to form; and a sort of laissez-faire attitude when it comes to how your partner chooses to spend his or her time. That is, they view the other person as the partner they want to experience life with as is, not as somebody they want to control or change or fit into some ideal of what A Spouse is supposed to be.
posted by something something at 2:54 PM on February 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


For the record: been together since 1996.

Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?

It was better. We don't do much of the flowers-and-candy stuff that stands in for romance on TV, and neither of us has much reason to make heroic sacrifices, which is how you show love in movies. But it's good and satisfying on a normal, regular-life level, and we like each other quite a lot, as well as love each other.

Did it start off with chemistry and settle into something more comfortable or did it start off as a solid friendship and take off from there?

Lots of chemistry, fueled by friendship. Both of us find people who like what we like and value what we value attractive; both of us were attracted to each other physically. Those two together were very powerful.

Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?

This is two questions. Yes; we understand each other pretty well in those four areas, though we don't always agree on, say, spirituality or how to feel about an event emotionally. That does not negate our ability or need to have friends who also understand us. It's not either/or.

Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package and to what extent are flaws and shortcoming acceptable without your partners desire to improve on that?

"Flaws" is the wrong word. It implies there is such a thing as a perfect, static mode of being. Nobody is like that, and who would want them to be? Neither of us has a template that the other either succeeds or fails to live up to.

What we have is a baseline of behavior; we will treat each other with kindness, consideration, understanding, and give support to each other. If one person is having a lot of trouble doing that all of a sudden, the role of the other person is to help out. Helping can mean just holding on until things get better, or it can mean listening and making suggestions, or it can mean you both go to counseling because it's too big to handle on your own. We have done all these things when needed.

Do you feel like you 'settled' for less than you aimed for in the desire of your youth?

No; I had assumed I would never marry, because I had never met a man I could imagine living with forever, and the idea of marrying someone who didn't understand me and love me for who I was horrified me.

Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?

I have no idea what it is supposed to be. I don't think it's any harder or easier than being single, it just has different complications. Any way you live will have ups and downs, no one way is easier or better in itself. Marriage to the right person is not hard in terms of relationship issues, but how hard it can be overall depends on what life throws at you, just like being single.

Are you truly happy with this person, or do you sometimes have doubts and wonder 'what if' about another or imagine your life without them?

I have, in the past, wondered if we wouldn't be better off apart when there were things that were too big for us to handle (see seeking counseling, above), like depression and extreme amounts of external stress. But every time I did, leaving felt worse than staying. But whether that will be true till one of us dies, who knows? I did eventually figure out that some things I hated and was blaming on being married were actually things I could change without getting divorced. So long as that remains true for both of us, there is no reason we can't stay together.
posted by emjaybee at 3:00 PM on February 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Been married for 21 years. It started as friendship and developed into love. We both feel that we've gotten more right for each other as time has gone on. That is to say, when we met there might have been other people who'd be a good match for us. Over the years we've grown towards each other, so that hasn't been true for a long time.

I would say that we primarily fulfill the needs you list for each other, but we also get some of those things outside of the relationship. Marriage takes time and effort, but I wouldn't call it work. Really, I find being married very easy.

I don't see many other relationships where I'd be happy. I certainly don't see any where I'd be as happy as I am.
posted by obol at 3:34 PM on February 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


(3-year relationship, getting married next year)


Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?

- Yes and no. The initial sparks-all-the-time do fade, and people talk about that as a bad thing, but I think it gets replaced by this very deep every-day contentment. And the sparks are still there - they just flare more brightly certain times, which makes it all the more special.

Did it start off with chemistry and settle into something more comfortable or did it start off as a solid friendship and take off from there?

Friendship first, although it progressed fairly quickly and we both sort of knew there was chemistry.

Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?

I can honestly say there is not another human, even my best friends, that I could stand being around as long and frequently as I want to be with her.

Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package and to what extent are flaws and shortcoming acceptable without your partners desire to improve on that?

I think the thing is, you start to think of each other's flaws not as flaws but just.. personality. Everyone responds to anger, sadness, stress etc. differently. You start to anticipate how they will react and use that to help solve problems. Also, any arguments about housecleaning, annoying habits etc. become things that occasionally annoy you, but you let them go because you have them too and you learn to be symbiotic with each other).

Do you feel like you 'settled' for less than you aimed for in the desire of your youth?


Definitely not. I got way better than I ever knew I wanted, and not in a fairy-tale sense. It's unbelievable to be with someone who cares about your welfare as much as you).


Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?


I haven't encountered anything that feels like hard work yet, but there's a difference in that I think we both feel like we would put in the hard work - that there's enough foundation and commitment here that we would work through a rough month or even year, instead of just breaking up if we were just dating.

Are you truly happy with this person, or do you sometimes have doubts and wonder 'what if' about another or imagine your life without them?

Truly happy. I don't really believe that there's only one "The One" for any person, but I am absolutely sure that she is the one I've met that I want to share life with. I used to be really frightened about commitment and "what if we grow apart" in a general sense. With her I feel like there is room to change, and a willingness to grow together even as we might change ourselves.
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:38 PM on February 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Does my marriage fulfill my ideas about what love is like?

I didn't have many ideals. I did have the example of my grandparents, who were sweethearts for almost 70 years. They would each sit in their favorite armchair, each doing the crossword puzzle from a different newspaper, and every now and then they'd look over at each other and smile. My marriage has lots of that.

And then my friends Andrew and Martin have a fantastic marriage (together 24 years now!) so I knew it was possible for my generation.

Did it start off with chemistry...

Yes, my husband and I were fixed up on a blind date (unbeknownst to me). I also want to say here that my husband isn't my best friend, nor am I his. My husband is my favorite person in the world and I his, but we each have a couple of best friends we knew before our marriage, and to whom we confide lots of stuff and vice versa. For me, having my spouse be my best friend wouldn't work; I know it works well for many people, but one of the things that really drew me to my husband was the intensity of his friendships with others. And him to me.

Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually

Yes, but not entirely. My husband and I like reading books about science and sociology and history and talking about them. He doesn't like literary fiction, poetry, or critical social theory, so I talk about that stuff with other friends. He's a computer research scientist in the field of AI linguistics, about which I know and care little; I presume he talks about his work primarily with his colleagues.

emotionally

Yes, though I have had to work really hard to not be all Spock like "How can we solve this problem?" and let him be sad or angry or frustrated and just vent.

physically

Yes. We have a fun sex life, and (maybe just as important) we're also big snugglers and huggers.

spiritually

Oh, holy crap, not at all. I am a fairly observant Episcopalian who is really inspired by medieval English mysticism traditions; he is a vehemently anti-religion atheist.

On the other hand, our moral compasses are well aligned.

Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package...

I guess I would think of them more as "challenges" than "flaws" or "shortcomings". My husband has issues with anxiety; he can be rigid in his habits and resistant to change; he can get overwhelmed by obstacles and sink into a sad, inert emotional state. I don't think of those as flaws, because I think they're all part of the range of human responses to life, but they can be difficult for me to deal with, either because they mirror my issues (anxiety) or are the opposite of my issues (I am all POWER THROUGH about obstacles).

I'm sure my husband has some similar challenges with my ways.

Do you feel like you 'settled'...

Absolutely not. I never planned to marry or have one life partner.

Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?

Everything worth doing is some work. But doing the right work well makes the everyday stuff seem easy. It's like playing a sport or a musical instrument.

Are you truly happy with this person, or do you sometimes have doubts...

No doubts to date (almost 13 years of marriage, almost 15 years as sweethearts).
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:38 PM on February 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?

I never really thought about it. I married the only girl I ever dated for more than about 8 weeks.

Did it start off with chemistry and settle into something more comfortable or did it start off as a solid friendship and take off from there?

It started as a blind date, so I guess it was all chemistry and lust at first. We didn't know each other at all.

Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?

One person that fulfills all that doesn't really exist. We all need friends and relationships outside of marriage.

Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package and to what extent are flaws and shortcoming acceptable without your partners desire to improve on that?

If you are focusing on your partner's flaws and shortcomings you are doing it wrong. Focus on their strengths.

Do you feel like you 'settled' for less than you aimed for in the desire of your youth?

I never aimed. Blind date and all that. It is the general opinion of my friends that I married up, way up :)

Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?

Life's challenges don't care if you are single or married. If you are going to have health issues, or money issues, or whatever, it's probably easier to deal with in most cases with a committed partner there to help. So in that sense marriage may be easier than the alternative.

I don't mean to sound glib, but I think way too many people spend way too much time worrying about this stuff. Maybe you'll meet somebody tomorrow, or next week, or never. It's mostly random. Certainly throwing yourself out there in the dating pool improves the odds, but in the end whether or not you click with somebody and take it to a legally committed relationship is mostly luck. (Married 21 years, together for 26)
posted by COD at 3:40 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Something nakedmolerats touched on is really important, in my opinion: liking to spend time with your partner. My husband and I went on an 8-week road trip around the perimeter of the US in a car with no radio, no CD player, no nothing. We never ran out of things to talk about. This is why I married him!
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:41 PM on February 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?

Yes and no. I think until you've really experienced love you don't actually know how good it is. My ideals have ranged from girlish (overnight trips to Paris) to absurd (swept off my feet by a secret prince). After I met him I felt I finally understood what love was in a way that was much richer than what my imagination had previously come up with. I will say that it is very distinctly different from previous "loves" in a way I can't describe.

Did it start off with chemistry and settle into something more comfortable or did it start off as a solid friendship and take off from there?

Started with chemistry. We met randomly but I was immediately and powerfully drawn to him. We spent some time getting to know each other but it didn't take long at all to go from first interest -> intensely great sex -> marriage & family. We just knew.

Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?

I feel like this is out-of-fashion to say and may not be true of everyone, but I feel like we fulfill most if not all of each other's needs. We also have close friends and family, but the clear center for both of us is each other.

Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package and to what extent are flaws and shortcoming acceptable without your partners desire to improve on that?

I have never felt as though I'm accepting any flaws or shortcomings. I don't think he does either. We adore and idealize each other more than is probably warranted (no one is perfect), but it's actually really wonderful; when I make a mistake I trust that he will think favorably of me and be able to forgive me. In return I give him the same. With previous partners I've felt both more critical and more criticized.

Do you feel like you 'settled' for less than you aimed for in the desire of your youth?

Never.

Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?

Being responsible for your own happiness is very different from being responsible for your happiness + a spouse + possibly children. I don't think it is hard work most of the time, but it takes maturity that I didn't always have. Sometimes I find myself still being selfish or making selfish decisions and it is some effort to course-correct in those moments.

Are you truly happy with this person, or do you sometimes have doubts and wonder 'what if' about another or imagine your life without them?

I never have and strongly doubt I ever will. I think he is the best decision I have ever made.
posted by annekate at 4:14 PM on February 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Marriage is real life, with someone you like. That's all. (Be thirty years, this upcoming August. I'd say ours works ok.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:35 PM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My mom had told me several times, "When you meet the right person, you'll just know. Not the way you feel with a crush. It will feel final, and you may not be entirely happy about that at the time."

I had been in several long-term relationships and had even been married, and I thought what my mom said was horseshit. I filed for divorce and decided that I wouldn't date until it was final and that I wouldn't be serious with anyone until a year after that.

And then six weeks after I filed for divorce, I met under_petticoat_rule, and that very night I knew he was the one. And - much like my mom said - there was a part of me that completely freaked. "But I was going to PLAY THE FIELD for a year! I was going to HAVE FUN!!!" Yeah, I got over that pretty quickly, because he is amazing and my relationship is something I never dreamed could be possible, in all the good ways.

Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?

It blows away any ideals of what love is like. We're coming up on six years and every day, I feel lucky to have this relationship. Not in the "and he could leave at any moment! Aieeeee! How do I hold on to him?" sense, which is frankly what I'd dealt with in the past. I feel lucky that I have a relationship that is so happy, with someone who is so wonderful, and I wish I could tell my past self that such a relationship was possible and that she shouldn't be burning time and energy on something that isn't working.

Did it start off with chemistry and settle into something more comfortable or did it start off as a solid friendship and take off from there?

It started off with everything! There was chemistry but there was also friendship, right from the get-go. We shared a ton of interests and have really complimentary personality quirks.

Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?

We can connect on all levels, but this does not mean that we do everything together. Our religious/spiritual philosophy is similar but he's involved in an organization and I am not - and that's OK with both of us. I like traveling more than he does, so I usually take a trip without him for each trip I take with him. He plays music and my talents are strictly limited to standing in the audience and cheering. I like shopping for shoes and handbags (no, really, it's kind of absurd) and he'd rather have his eye-teeth pulled without Novocaine, but he has no problem with me going to do it on my own. Going out and having different experiences separately allows us to have something to talk about when we come back together.

Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package and to what extent are flaws and shortcoming acceptable without your partners desire to improve on that?

I spent several relationships trying to change the people I was with. It's like the old quote says, "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig." If your romantic partner has a characteristic that really bothers you or is just flat-out bad, you're not going to fix them, and this is a lesson that took me forever to learn. under_petticoat_rule isn't perfect, but neither am I. I pick up his socks when they're on the floor in EXTREMELY random places and I roll with it when he turns our second bathroom into a workshop complete with power tools (way more often than you'd think). He in turn deals with my love of Regency romance and J.R. Ward novels (there, I admitted it) and...well, otherwise I'm perfect but I'm sure there are things he perceives as flaws that he overlooks. ;-)

Do you feel like you 'settled' for less than you aimed for in the desire of your youth?

Considering that the guy I aimed for in my youth is apparently now on the run from the FBI and driving a truck under an assumed name? Oh hell no.

Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?

Again, not married, but our relationship is the functional equivalent. I will say that the toughest day of this 5.5-year relationship would have been a good day in most of my other long-term romantic relationships, my marriage excepted. In the case of my marriage, our good days were as good as in my current relationship, but we didn't have nearly as many of them and our bad days were more numerous and much worse. At the same time, we have had times where we've had to work at our relationship and have some tough conversations. The difference is that I always feel like we're in the same boat; it's just that sometimes the paddling gets out of sync and someone gets splashed and we need to have a conversation to get things rolling smoothly again. Whereas in other relationships, it felt more like I wanted to be in the same boat while my partner wanted to take the bus, so we couldn't even get to the part where we were trying to row in synch. (Perhaps that metaphor does not extend well.)
posted by rednikki at 4:38 PM on February 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


As always, let me recommend the work of John Gottman and the work of Pepper Schwartz for two different but complementary perspectives on marriage/partnership. Both researchers have studied lots of couples.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:37 PM on February 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm in the 19th year of a great relationship. We've been married for 17 years.

Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?

It has far, far exceeded them. I had Hollywood ideas about love, and those generally end with that vague "happily ever after" thing which I couldn't quite picture. I mean, what do the prince and Cinderella actually do ten years into their marriage?

Here's what happily-ever-after has actually been like for me: I have a best friend. I have someone who I see in the morning, call a couple of times while I'm at work, and then spend all my evenings and nights with. We do pretty much everything together when we're not at our respective jobs. We often "do our own thing" together, which right now means we're sitting on a sofa next to each other, each holding laptops. I'm (obviously) on Metafilter, and she's on Facebook. Every now and then, we look up and smile at each other. She tells me about a video one of our mutual friends just posted. I tell her about this thread. It feels suffused with warmth and comfort.

We have 18 years of injokes -- almost our own language. When she calls me at work, I know if she's happy, sad, tired, or angry when she's halfway through her first word. I can't imagine being single again or dating. The thought horrifies me. Having to start all over with someone else? No thanks.

The older I get, the more important this stuff is. I'll be 50 in a couple of years. I want to grow old with my wife -- with someone who really understands me, with someone who has seen me at my best, my worse, and my most mediocre. I want to be with someone I can trust utterly, and she's the only person I can.

Did it start off with chemistry and settle into something more comfortable or did it start off as a solid friendship and take off from there?

We were (platonic) best friends for a year before we started dating. That's how most of my relationships have started, and I highly recommend it. For some reason, many people feel the opposite way: "I can't date him/her. He/She is my best friend!" I don't get it. Why would you not want to date your best friend? To me, that sounds like the ideal person to date.

Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?

Yes, except for "spiritually." I'm not a spiritual person, so I'm not sure what it would mean to connect with someone that way.

I am an introvert, and I have a small number of close friends. But I would rather be with my wife than any of them. She's the closest of the close.

She's an extrovert, so she hangs with other people more than I do.

Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package and to what extent are flaws and shortcoming acceptable without your partners desire to improve on that?

Yup, it's part of the package. To what extent is that acceptable? Again, I come back to the "best friend" thing. It's acceptable as long as we're best friends. I'll put up with a lot to be able to spend my life with someone I connect to so deeply and continually.

Do you feel like you 'settled' for less than you aimed for in the desire of your youth?


No. But I've never been a long-term goals person. When I was a kid, I didn't have some big ideal of a partner.

Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?


I'm not sure it's "supposed" to be anything. But almost any couple who have been together for over five years will go through trials: infidelity, mental or physical illness, sexual problems, differences of opinions about raising kids or some other big issue ... I'm not going to claim my marriage could weather anything, but it's weathered some stuff, and its come out the other end stronger. My wife and I both know we have a good thing, and we're both committed to making it work.

Yes, it is work, but a lot of the time it's nice work (if you can get it). I spend a lot of time thinking about things I can do to please her, things I can improve about myself to make me easier to live with ... I work at the relationship. But most of the time, it feels like a dream job.

Are you truly happy with this person, or do you sometimes have doubts and wonder 'what if' about another or imagine your life without them?

I have never been a "truly happy" person. But I'm a much happier person when I'm with my wife than when I'm not with her. And most of the happiness I do have in life is connected with being with her.

No, I have never fantasized about being single again. The thought gives me shudders. And, in 19 years, I've never fantasized about being with anyone else. But that may be because I'm an introvert. I rarely fantasize even about making new friends. I like the people I've been friends with for years, and I'm leery about starting new relationships. I have sexual fantasies about other people, but that's about it, and the older I get, the less of a big deal that is.

I'll end by noting that, by coincidence, a similar question came up on another site, recently. I posted my thoughts on happy marriages, and they got picked up by Huffpo.
posted by grumblebee at 8:16 PM on February 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Since you said we don't need to rattle through all the questions, I'll try as best as I can to answer the crux of your question:

I've actually been thinking about writing an essay on this very topic, about how I ended up in a happy marriage and I never imagined that for myself growing up. My parents had a horrible (screaming and throwing things) marriage and all of their friends were divorced, and they were the people I identified with, so I figured I'd end up divorced too.

And marriage turned out to be, a deeper, more all encompassing love than I ever thought possible. I never thought I'd trust someone this much or share every part of myself with someone and be okay with it.

My husband exceeds expectations, I absolutely don't feel like I settled.

As far as flaws that won't change, sure he has those, everyone does. But I've also seen him grow and change for the better in ways that I never would have imagined when I met him ten years ago. I mean this kind of a small thing (or maybe it will seem that way to you), but he didn't like dogs when I met him. And despite that, he got me a dog because he knew how happy it would make me. And over time he grew to love our dog. And that's not anything I ever expected, but I think that shows a generosity of spirit that I hadn't known was there.

Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?

Yes, I connect with husband intellectually emotionally, physically (were athiests so I'm not sure about spiritually), but at the same time he can't be everything to me. I love writing and reading novels and he's not as into it as I am, so I talk to other friends about that. He loves computers, I know nothing about computers, so he has other friends for that. Sometimes I just need to go out with girlfriends and have a good belly laugh. That's okay too.

Is married life supposed to be work and not easy?.


For me the hard part of being married, is that you have to make decisions for two people. So let's say one of you gets a great job offer in another city but one of you already has a great job, or let's say you got pregnant when you weren't meaning to, or let's say you were trying to have a baby but you can't and you had to decide whether to go forward with fertility treatments, or let's say one of you wants to take lavish vacations and the other wants to save for retirement, and then if you have kids, well there are a thousand parenting decisions you have to agree on. I somehow didn't really that getting two independent people to agree on all major life decisions would be hard, but it turns out it is.

The other thing that's hard is well, life. It throws shit at you: job loss, bankruptcy,death, sickness, infertility, unexpected pregnancies, you name it. And through all the shit that's thrown at you, no matter how stressful, you have to maintain a loving partnership. And I guess that's why they put the for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health stuff in the vows, to remind you that, no it's not exactly easy to keep a loving partnership through all that crap.
posted by bananafish at 8:37 PM on February 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?
Oh good lord no. That would have been exhausting.
Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?
Both. If it came down to it, we could meet most of each other's needs just the two of us. But that would be a big hassle — and also kind of limiting. It turns out it's just a whole a lot nicer to have a bunch of different interesting connections in your life instead of pouring all your energy into One True Connection.

(I mean, it's also nice to have a safety net. If all our friends abandoned us for some bizarre reason, we could hang in there as long as we had each other. That's reassuring when it's 3 AM and you're having irrational worries about all your friends abandoning you for some bizarre reason. But that sort of "us against the world" thing should be a total bizzarro long-shot worst-case scenario — on par with your contingency plan for use in event of zombie attack — and definitely not the main point or the whole basis for the relationship.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:44 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Our relationship profile: Friends first, then dating for about 6 years, now engaged.

Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?

I guess as a teenager I thought love would be more fluttery and less secure -- more about the moment when you wonder whether you're going to kiss, and less about lying together in bed talking late into the night. Turns out this is better. There are still fluttery moments and sexy moments, but the bedrock of our relationship is deeper than those.

I also had some negative expectations when I was younger: my parents fought a lot, my best friends' parents fought a lot. So I assumed you couldn't be married without a lot of shouting matches, which I didn't feel up for. It turns out that shouting matches are not a feature of all partnerships (and also that some of the members of those shouty relationships have now gotten therapy or medication and don't shout so much themselves).

So that's another way in which reality has turned out to surpass what I imagined.

Did it start off with chemistry and settle into something more comfortable or did it start off as a solid friendship and take off from there?

We met while I was with someone else and then afterward spent a while getting over that someone else. So it started off as friendship, but I think we both knew that there could be something there, under appropriate circumstances.

Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually?

Spiritually we have slightly different philosophies about what's going on religiously, but we're not that far apart. On other measures, yes.

Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?

Even though I am totally stoked to be with my partner and have no requests, do not feel I settled, and do not at all feel he "fails to meet my needs," I happen to be someone who needs a variety of contacts in my life to be happy. I have a number of other good friends both male and female, whom I spend time with both in his company and one-on-one. He is not threatened by them and this is not a problem.

Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package and to what extent are flaws and shortcoming acceptable without your partners desire to improve on that?

As people have written above, I don't really think a lot in terms of my partner's flaws per se. He has a personality, which affects how he reacts to things, and sometimes that means that I need to compensate (e.g. by reminding him to answer important email). I also have such aspects, and he deals with them gracefully. I really don't spend a lot of time growling inside my head about how I wish he were fundamentally different in some respect, though. He's an extremely stable, mature person.

Do you feel like you 'settled' for less than you aimed for in the desire of your youth?

Nope. My future husband is witty, charming, affectionate, and extremely smart; also, he really knows how to turn a sentence, and since I've had the hots for prose style all my life, that's pretty exciting.

Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?

Sometimes life is hard, but my partner is part of my team, and we get through stuff together. That includes even the times when the problem I am having has to do with him.

Also, every morning, he brings me tea to help me wake up. I cannot tell you how much this improves life over being single. Sounds trivial, but it's not.
posted by shattersock at 11:46 PM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Did it fulfill your ideals about what love was like?
Yes, but my "ideals" or even ideas about what love is like might be different than yours. My grandparents were happily, dotingly, imperfectly married and I used that as a reference.
Did it start off with chemistry and settle into something more comfortable or did it start off as a solid friendship and take off from there?
He was a co-worker/friend I was attracted to... the texts got more and more flirtatious, he came to visit (from another nearby city) more and more etc. until he said he was interested in a romantic relationship, at which point I happily agreed and then nailed him to my sheets.
Can you connect with this person on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually?
Yes BUT...
Or do you fulfill those needs though others, friends, etc?
Also yes. People are different... I connect with my husband on all levels, but that doesn't mean he meets ALL my needs ALL the time! Sometimes you just need your sister, or friend, or dad or whoever. You know? You know how "it takes a village" to raise a child? It takes a village to keep anyone happy, I think.
Is accepting another's flaws and shortcomings part of the package and to what extent are flaws and shortcoming acceptable without your partners desire to improve on that?
Yes, it's part of the package and you accept it; but we both strive to be the best versions of ourselves and we both know we're doing our best. (Things like alcoholism, disrespect, depression, etc. are not "flaws" they are either health issues of signs of an asshole. Health issues need treated, assholes need dumped.)
Do you feel like you 'settled' for less than you aimed for in the desire of your youth?
No. I feel like while I had no idea how much was possible, and I wouldn't have known to hold out for this. This is joy like the depth of the ocean... rather than the pretty/dramatic/romantic yacht sailing across the surface.
Is married life really supposed to be hard work and not easy?
I agree with Shattersock... sometimes life is hard; and sometimes marriage is work. But it's good work, that's meaningful, worthwhile, productive and I'm happy to do it.

"Friends" 6 months, started dating... moved in together at 9 months, married at 17 months - a little fast but it all turned out. Married 5 years this May, and it's incredible. =) For other examples, I like the "About Me" page on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef and the portrayal of Julia Child's marriage in Julie & Julia.
posted by jrobin276 at 12:08 AM on February 3, 2013


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