(Rejecting) The Seven Year Itch

I could never forget that kiss...
I could never forget that kiss…

Today is Heather and my 7th wedding anniversary. It seems like we’ve been married much longer than that. It’s probably because we’ve done a lot of crazy things since 2006. Peace Corps, Europe, moving to Washington state, getting a dog, buying a house; we’ve stuffed quite a bit of experience into our relationship. There have been many more ups than downs (the ups being quite a bit higher than the downs have been deep). To show you how cheesy we can be, we waited until midnight to go to bed last night just so we could say “I love you” at the start of our day.

We’ve known each other since 1998 when we met at KLVX PBS 10. Fifteen years of experience, friendship and love. As I mentioned before, our relationship has mellowed over time. However, I feel just as passionate now as when we met. There was something about her; maybe it was the red hair, or her kindness, or that small glint of mischievousness in the corner of her eye. I still can’t put my finger on it, but there is a feeling you get when your heart attaches to another person. Through different relationships and jobs and life choices I can honestly say I was always in love with Heather.

Adventure!!!
Adventure!!!

And I got to marry the girl who got away.

So now people are asking me about the “7 year itch.” Apparently, this is supposed to mark a low period in the satisfaction of married life. Men and women are supposed to feel “itchy” to get out and renew romance and sexual adventure after becoming bored in the daily routine. I’ll have to ask Heather at dinner tonight, but I feel very satisfied in our marriage. Yes, it’s time to spice things up in the sex department. It’s also very healthy to reevaluate roles and behaviors in any relationship over a period of time. That’s what a relationship is. But I am not going to use some stupid phrase as an excuse to lapse on my commitment to my wife.

Romance!!!
Romance!!!

I recently learned through an NPR article about a website called ashleymadison.com; a networking website for married people looking for affairs. There are a number of studies about the reasons people cheat. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been a cheater in my past. I’ve also been cheated on. I have no good reason for why I did it; sometimes it was for the thrill of doing something forbidden, sometimes it was just plain opportunity. There is no good reason; I was a selfish, immature dick.

Selfies!
Selfies!

However, Heather inspires me to be a better man than that. She inspires me to want to be the best partner to her that I can be. I fail constantly; many times I put other things at a higher priority than her, whether it’s playing computer games or watching TV. Honestly, I get lazy. Whatever the cause, it’s stupidity on my part. On our anniversary today, I’m reminded that she is the most important relationship I have in my life. This comes with the responsibility to NOT take her for granted.

More years to come!
More years to come!

Heather has given me seven years of her life and it has been filled with amazing adventures. She is well worth the time and effort of my full attention, affection and love. All I can do today is ask her forgiveness for the times I have not been the best man I could be; to trust that I will continue to become a better partner with her; and to believe in a future, years from now, where we will look back on our 7 year anniversary and know that my promises were fulfilled.

(Sometimes) Love just ain’t enough…

Expectations.
Expectations.

I recently read a blog post on Whiny Baby where the author had recently traveled abroad, come home and decided that she was going to divorce her husband and reboot her life. (please read her WHOLE blog to get the backstory) She shares some very sensitive and controversial emotions about commitment, choice and authenticity.  This got me thinking about love, relationships and happiness.

Love is a loaded gun word. It is said too often, practiced too little and misunderstood by most. It attempts and fails at capturing the wide range of experiences that we say are “love.” Currently, I love my family, which is different from how I love my friends, which is different from my love of my fellow human, which all pale in comparison to the love I experience with my partner Heather.

Aren't we adorable?
Aren’t we adorable?

I asked Heather to marry me, because out of all the women I had dated she was the first one I trusted completely. I WANTED to be vulnerable with her; something I had never experienced before. She knew about the women I’ve slept with, she knew me when I was fat and not so fat, she waited until I was ready to love her. I decided that if that wasn’t love, nothing would be. We’ve been married now for almost 7 years and our love is completely different from when we made our vows.

We no longer have crazy bunny sex (something I need to rekindle). We no longer go out to fancy restaurants, then dancing and boozing every weekend. We now fart in front of each other and no longer dress to impress. We’ve slowly settled into early nights, dinner in front of the TV, and tender rather than passionate kisses. I want need to be more romantic and sexy for Heather to rekindle some lost courtsmanship.  At the same time, the insane romantic love has grown into a deep friendship which gives support, understanding and commitment.  Our love has matured.

marriage-marriage-lol-demotivational-poster-12634797201
/truth

It was stupid of me to think it could be any other way. The expectation that love will never change is probably why so many relationships end. Over the last seven years, Heather and I have lived in a foreign country, moved four times, adopted a dog, bought a house, started new jobs and grew seven years older. I am not the same man she married and she is not the same woman I fell for. As people, we are now very different.

What I feel I have done right is allowed my love to change along with our relationship. Full disclosure; our relationship is HARD work. It requires daily communication, which sometimes feels like a chore. It needs to be nourished with affection and attention; challenging as I get up at 6:00am and sometimes come home around 7:00pm only to have community council meetings and selfish distractions like wanting to watch the latest episode of Supernatural. There have been times where we needed forgiveness, compromise and conflict resolution. When I’m angry, it is hard to love her. When I’m feeling stagnant it is hard to be committed.

What could go wrong?
What could go wrong?

It has required my putting my own happiness on the backburner for the good of the relationship. This is where I believe the making or breaking point of love and relationship exists. Heather and my marriage has accrued a net gain of happiness. This is a miracle and blessing, because it’s not something every relationship can claim.

Sometimes, a hard decision has to be made to end a relationship.  I once dated a girl who I loved more than life itself. But she made me so miserable (jealousy, emotional blackmail, unpredictability) that I’m glad she ended the relationship; something I didn’t have the courage to do. It saved my identity and self. Plenty of people would just say that I wasn’t really in love, just infatuated. I say bullshit. The problem with this girl wasn’t love; I had plenty for the both of us. It was happiness.

Going strong!
Going strong!

Intimate relationships are messy and exhausting. It’s the long term happiness they give us that makes them worth the investment. Nobody can truly say they will love somebody forever. Who knows what will happen 20 years down the road. People change; sometimes they become bitter assholes. Many times people just grow in different directions. All I know is the only way Heather and I will be together forever is by making sure our love and relationship matures and evolves along with our selves. It’s the key to the happiness in our marriage.