I don’t believe in the concept of soulmates: the idea that there’s only one right person out there for you. I truly believe that you can find more than one “right person”. What makes a relationship work is not only being with the “right person”, but also being in the “right relationship”. I have witnessed people find someone with all of the qualities and personality they’re looking for, but still find themselves in a relationship that does not enhance their life. Why? Because the two people in that relationship have not agreed on what the dynamics and expectations are in their relationship. Every relationship is unique because each relationship has its own set of standards and norms that the people in that relationship have made a priority. One relationship might place value in being adventurous together; another relationship might place value in alone time. What a relationship looks like differs based on the people involved in that relationship. Below I will explore the standards, norms, and dynamics that defined our relationship from very early on. Here’s part two: How I knew this was the right relationship.
Andrel and I were lucky enough to be good friends before we officially started dating. We bonded over similar interests like basketball and music. We enjoyed each other’s company before any romantic inclinations. We appreciated each other’s personalities and characters without the pressure of “trying to make it work”. We didn’t force ourselves to be friends in hopes of eventually upgrading to a romantic relationship. We were friends long before we were even interested each other on that level. And I have to say, it has truly been a blessing in our lives and an asset to our relationship.
Having a strong friendship was mandatory to me in any relationship, especially in a marriage. We needed to be friends because we will literally be spending the rest of our lives together. Before kids, after kids.. It’s really the two of us. I always make fun of my parents because now that my brother and I are grown, it’s always just the two of them. They drive to work together; they go to the gym together; they go to the mall together. They do everything together and they don’t seem to mind it one bit because they’re friends. At the end of the day, they know all they have is each other.
When I changed my major in my first year of university with no idea of what I would do with it after graduation, Andrel supported me wholeheartedly. When I decided to run for student government, Andrel supported me despite his reservations. When I wanted to go to graduate school in another country, Andrel supported me with no questions asked. Andrel has shown me time and time again that he is always willing to do whatever he needs to do to support me, so that I can feel fulfilled and satisfied in all aspects of my life. It also goes vice versa. When Andrel decided to not be a lawyer and pursue real estate appraisal, I supported him with no questions asked. When he realized Edmonton was the better job opportunity amongst the options he had, I supported him with no reservations. When he wanted us to go into real estate investing, I trusted him wholeheartedly. There are so many other points in our relationship where we chose to support each other instead of tear each other down or hold each other back and I have seen how amazing our lives continue to turn out because of the simple decision we’ve made to support each other in every goal, dream, and aspiration we set out for ourselves.
Granted, there are moments in time when we might present an idea to each other and think, “Uhh.. babe, maybe you should reconsider?” But that’s also the beauty of unwavering support, it’s the dialogue, the discussion. It’s being partners in all things and making sure we’re always thinking in each other’s best interest.
In our relationship, we have been able to develop two levels of respect: respect in private and respect in public. Respect in private is how we interact behind closed doors. One of the ways we’ve been able to maintain a healthy level of respect for each other is the way in which we argue. A few years ago, we established rules for our arguments. It helps keep us in check when we’re both feeling emotionally charged. It stops us from going too far and damaging our relationship.
Respect in public for me is the way we always try to protect each other and each other’s reputation. We both recognize that how we act and what we say in public reflects the other person, whether we want it to or not. It’s understanding that because I have committed myself to this person, they have become an extension of me to the point that my actions and words will reflect on them. It’s dangerous to be in a committed relationship, yet still act as if you’re on an island. It makes us think twice about what we do or say because we never want the other person to look stupid in public. We’ve learned how to protect each other, how to watch out for each other. It makes all the difference in the world to know that Andrel isn’t out in these streets making me look dumb. It breeds another level of trust, to know that no one will ever come at me saying, “Your boyfriend’s out here making you look like a fool out in these street.”There are many other things that made me realize this was the relationship I wanted to commit to for the rest of my life. Of course, what makes a relationship right for me might not be what makes it right for you. Everyone has different expectations for their respective relationships. It’s about identifying what works for you and your significant other.