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Love Is Not All You Need
7 Years, 7 Lessons
On May 28th, Ryan and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. Time has wings, I’m convinced. We’ve been together for ten years in total, and it’s wild to see how far we’ve come together. How much we’ve grown as individuals and as a couple has shaped how we show up in the world, parent our children, and choose to stand in our love for one another. It’s amazing to me that all these years later, we continue to find ways to deepen our friendship and love for one another. I’m so grateful.
When we met, I was 23, and he was 26. He was a Kansas City boy living in Los Angeles. Me—an East Coast girl—living in Maryland with my then 4-year-old daughter. Being long-distance wasn’t easy, but I truly believe it set the tone for our friendship and relationship. I met Ryan after what I jokingly call my healing hibernation season. I’d been working on me—learning how to take care of myself and choosing to be intentionally single. I was committed to getting my emotional affairs in order because I knew I eventually wanted a partner and family. But even more so than that, I knew I needed to learn how to love, see, and hold myself in the way I wanted my future partner to. I met Ry at a really good time in my life and healing.
Reflecting on how far we’ve come, I’ve realized how much it takes to be in healthy love with someone. This path can be challenging—and it’s absolutely a choice. We’ve walked through a lot together over the years, and I’m proud of us for the growing, healing, and changing we’ve done. Something that I’ve learned since meeting Ryan is that love is not all you need to make a partnership work. There are so many other moving parts that no one warns us about. Often we’re sold this unrealistic dream of “all you need is love,” and that’s not been the case for us. We’ve needed so much more than that since getting together in 2013. We’ve wanted much more from each other than love since we married in 2016.
In celebration of our seventh year married, I asked Ry if he’d be down to co-author some lessons with me. He agreed. We will share seven lessons/realizations we’ve learned since being husband and wife.
Love is not all you need; you also need…
Vulnerability. Ryan has taught me so much about being vulnerable—not only with him but also with others. I’ve learned that without vulnerability, connection is really hard to achieve.
Communication. Clear communication has not always been my strong suit. Sometimes it’s still not. Being with someone who encourages me to be clear with my words and what I mean has helped me immensely and has deepened our love.
Emotional Safety. This is major for me. I feel like love can feel evasive if we don’t feel safe with our partners. Learning to trust that we are safe with one another strengthens and supports our love.
Friendship. Ryan is my friend before he is my spouse. This is something I longed for in a partner during my healing hibernation. A loving friendship is a sturdy foundation.
Laughter. This keeps our connection so strong and allows our love to take deeper root. There’s nothing I love more than hysterically laughing with Ry. We can cackle, and it is life-giving.
Co-dreaming. Something I love about my marriage is our ability to dream together. We have the best creative conversations and brainstorming sessions. We support one another’s goals and intentions. And we encourage each other to dream without shame or guilt. We make space for each other, and that feels magical and necessary to my soul.
Autonomy. Remembering that we are more than just partners and parents is vital. We can love each other more deeply when we have space and time to nurture ourselves.
When Alex was leaving the house to head to the airport Friday morning, she told me that she was going to start on our joint essay. We already had the premise. I asked her how many qualities she would have, “two or three.” Cool, I can handle that. I planned on writing my contribution by the time she got back home Saturday evening. Our children had other plans. Our oldest was a little under the weather. Our two youngest clearly had a two-day undisputed championship fight scheduled that I didn’t know about but ended up having to referee (it ended in a draw, the rematch is scheduled for next weekend).
Needless to say, when the girls were resting, I was resting. When Al got back home, I hadn’t written anything. She told me that she finished her part, and her two or three qualities were now seven. No problem. We’ve been together for over 2500 days, which has taken much more than love.
Commitment. If either of us had one foot out the door, it would be easy for the other to follow. Early on, the idea of ending the relationship would be thrown out in almost every argument or disagreement. That wasn’t productive at all and would create more problems when we should’ve been focused on solutions.
Enjoyment. We spend the majority of our time together. Luckily, we truly enjoy each other’s company. Liking your partner sounds like a no-brainer. It’s not.
Space. No matter how much we enjoy each other’s company, we still get on each other’s damn nerves at times. We understand that and don’t take it personally when we need to spend time alone.
Backbone. There is compromise and sacrifice in every relationship. It was hard for me and still is, in some circumstances, to know the difference between compromise and people-pleasing. There is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself when need be.
Clear Expectations. Reality - Expectations = Happiness. I had to learn that having unexpressed expectations isn’t fair. Neither of us are mind readers. Dru Hill had it right, tell me what you want, tell me what you need!
Teammate Mindset. We may have different ideas or methods on how to do something, but we know that we’ve got each other’s backs and that we are always working together and never against each other. Knowing this goes a long way.
Gratitude. Life ain’t easy. Alone or partnered. I’m grateful that I have someone to walk through life with. I never want to take that for granted.
We hope y’all enjoy these reflections. We’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have any Love Is Not All You Need thoughts—married, partnered, divorced, or not.
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