I had a conversation with a friend this weekend that was really great, and over the course of the conversation, he boiled relationships down to two things: Commitment and communication. Two things I am very fond of and something I’ve been saying for a long time. Obviously, relationships are very complex and do need more than those two things to always work out, but to have longevity and life in your relationships, those are the two most important things (side note: I would also say that faith is also vital to a relationship, but if one or both parties don’t have their own faith, then it becomes different).
When I look back on past relationships, I can see where one or both of the C’s were missing and how that played into the ending of that relationship. I used to think that I had no problem with commitment, but as I look back on my life, I see that I have had a lot of lessons learning not only communication, but also commitment.
Confession time: I am ridiculously independent. Now, this may not come as a shock to people, but as odd as it may sound, it came as somewhat of a shock to myself when I began to realize just how independent I am. My independence is a combination of good and bad for me. I am extremely proud of who I am, what I’ve achieved, and the fact that I really can take care of myself, build a life, achieve whatever I set out to achieve, and, thankfully, keep an animal alive (just don’t ask me about my houseplants). But, with all of that independence comes an unwillingness to ask for help, a prideful attitude that can keep me from being vulnerable, a self-preservation reaction to hurtful events. I love that I own my opinions and thoughts, that most of the time, I’m not afraid to be myself. But that independence can be the cause of some issues in the commitment area. It can make me want to run from conflict, or get really frustrated with people who aren’t as independent as I (or sometimes, with people who ARE).
Communication is something I’ve always had a struggle with. I dislike conflict greatly, and until 6 years ago, I didn’t know how to handle it well……at all. Thankfully, I have had a lot of life lessons and patient friends that have taught me how to communicate properly and while I am definitely still not perfect, I can see how much I’ve grown and changed in that area and it makes me extremely happy.
Now, I don’t say all that stuff about myself just to pat myself on the back and say that my relationships are now perfect, because believe me, they are far from it. At the end of the day, we’re all still human, still flawed, still trying to figure it all out. But, what I have truly learned in my life with a few, very close, very hard-fought relationships is that if you have the mutual commitment, and the mutual communication, then strong relationships are possible, despite whatever life may throw at you. And they become your cornerstones in life. They hold you together when everything else tries to tear you apart. They shower upon you love, trust, and a space to just breathe. There is absolutely nothing like having someone who knows you inside and out, who loves you exactly how you are but who encourages you to grow and challenges you when you’re wrong. If I can have just a handful of those people, there is nothing more in life I could ask for.