Today Alex and I have been married for 5 years. And together for eight. I know it because the 21st of September was also our fist date, when Alex “told me out” for lunch (using the supermodel theory of dating—tell, don’t ask), “We should have lunch together,” he said—he had never spoken to me before, he’d just come to the pizzeria and stare silently at me while waiting for his pizza.
Over the years, our relationship has taught me a great deal, but these five things have a special meaning for me, as they required changing deeply as individuals:
- Respect each other. Not the deep respect that should be at the core of every relationship between two people who share their life. I’m talking about the small things. Alex doesn’t like me saying, “You always do this”, because that always is not fair. I don’t like him asking, “Are you ready?” when I’m getting ready to leave. In a relationship, it’s not easy not to upset each other, but it’s respectful to at least try. Always.
- Hold hands. Contact is powerful. Feeling and seeing the touch of our hands reminds us why we’re traveling together on the train of life. Alex and I have a deal: when we argue and realise the situation has escalated, we hold hands, no matter how upset we are at each other or how little we feel like doing it. It’s not a magic wand, but it makes all the difference.
- Never leave angry. If we have time, we argue—even for hours, until there’s no more to say or we’ve cooled down. If we have to leave to work or to bed, though, we try and work it out before. Sometimes it’s more of a pause button, the kind that Marshall and Lily used in “How I Met Your Mother”—we’ll likely continue an hour later or on our next argument (which will happen). But in the meanwhile we leave each other with a smile and an “I love you”.
- We’re different, let’s accept it. I’m a social being, Alex is an introverted. It’s a core difference between us that we can’t change—and let’s face it, wanting things to be different day in and day out is exhausting! But we can accept the difference. So I accept that I’ll have to attend most crowded events and night parties by myself, and he accepts that he’ll have to be at some of them.
- Sex has highs and lows, and it’s OK. Sex is important, it’s necessary, but we don’t love each other less if I don’t feel sexy for my husband and “reject” him in the ninth month of pregnancy or after a sleepless night. We’re rational people, we are both—yes, even him as a man with ego, needs and blah blah blah—capable of understanding and compromising. And it makes all the difference in our relationship!
After eight years, I still wish the same for us, to grow old and grey together like this couple in my lucky picture.