A lot of us would like to believe that Love, that ever enduring emotion which defies concrete definition is sufficient to maintain and nurture a relationship in the long run. The more idealistic ones amongst us at least, still cling fervently to this idea of an all-conquering form of true love. Where the air that one breathes is literally all that is needed just to love and sustain a relationship.
It is hard to fault people who cherish such a misconception. After all, who in his/her right mind wouldn't want a relationship that is wholly and totally maintained and nurtured by the parties' love and affection for each other? The thought of a relationship moving forward on auto and overcoming all obstacles along the way through the sheer power of love is appealing but is alas highly unrealistic in the real world.
Don't get me wrong. Love is still important, in fact it's essential to a relationship. No one's ever heard of a relationship that's intimate and sexual without any love or mutual feelings of attraction and affection between the parties. And no, platonic relationships or sex buddies don't count no matter how you try to argue it. Someone you love and sleep with and someone you can and do have sex with are two very different things.
So while Love does form a major and important component of a relationship, it does not mean that Love is enough to see that the relationship survives. It is essential but it is not sufficient. Think of a relationship as a high maintenance car. You need lots of fuel (Love) to keep it going but you need to maintain it regularly too. And that's where your three 'C's come in: Commitment, Compromise and Communication.
You need lots of commitment to keep it going, the drive and spirit to see things through when the going gets tough and of course the basic stuff like not sleeping around and knowing the limits. Compromise is also something one will need to learn to do even if it's not always easy after being used to doing what one wants to do. A little compromise for certain non-fundamental (as in relationship wise) issues is necessary to accommodate your lover/other half because now that you are in a relationship, your actions don't only affect you, they affect your partner too. That is if you value the relationship at all.
And Communication. Which is essential and something both of you need to do, A LOT. When problems and differences/obstacles arise as they inevitably do, it is necessary to communicate with your other half to exchange opinions and work to resolve the problem together. A failure to communicate effectively and regularly inevitably leads to a breakdown of the relationship. This is something I can personally attest to and is an unpleasant experience to put it mildly.
Why? Even though you may be together for 5, 7, 10 years as a couple, the two of you aren't psychics. Sure you know the person darn well; you know when he's watching his Korean dramas while on the phone with you from the tone of his voice, you might even be able to complete each other's sentences. BUT you do not know with 100% certainty what he/she is thinking or feels on a certain issue.
So communication is downright essential, sullen silences for the sake of 'keeping the peace' do nothing to help the relationship. The issue/obstacle and corresponding unhappiness remains, like an untreated wound that festers and poisons the relationship slowly but surely. Even if the act of initiating communication of the issue with your partner is a difficult one either because you are wrong and find it difficult to admit it or you staunchly believe yourself to be justified, do it. You won't regret it.
It's something I'm still learning and constantly reminding myself to do. And given that our characters are very different, communication can sometimes be very interesting albeit in a challenging way. Sean tends to be the quieter, more reserved type when expressing his opinions in a conflict (he can be surprisingly vocal in other areas) partly due to the fact that he doesn't like unnecessary conflicts. Yours truly on the other hand is extremely vocal and has no qualms about voicing his objections or unhappiness over issues when they arise. Which can be destructive sometimes when I'm ranting and raving about a perceived wrong and I suddenly realise Sean has a very valid point after all.
So when we communicate, the results can be very varied. I know he's severely pissed when he clams up and goes, "Ya, whatever. You're right I'm wrong, ok?" then lapses into a sullen silence and when I attempt to coax him and apologise (albeit belatedly) he often responds with a grunt or "I've said everything I could, there's nothing more to say." Which results in a situation like this:
And after much persistence and some persuasion we do settle the issue. I've a personal motto and it seems to have worked well thus far: Never go to bed angry with Sean with an unsettled issue (adapted from the Bible's Never let the sun set on your Anger. One of those few handy proverbs ^^).
When I'm pissed and sore about an issue, or Sean's in the wrong, it'll be the exact opposite with me ranting and raving and him trying to cool/calm me down. Which often looks like this:
He still manages to do so somehow and we settle the issue. I guess the good thing about having a partner who is so different character wise is that you complement each other and find innovative ways of communicating and loving each other. Two yelling, raving partners would lead to very feisty showdowns and two sullen clams would just remain well sullen and stony. I dunno, I guess I like the strong silent types or just the strong, stable ones which is why I think Kurogane in Tsubasa Chronicles is so sexy ha ha. Sean's the Real Life version, strong but interesting. And most importantly, he's mine.
So I'm sorry if this seems like a very Aunt Agony kind of post but it's true. The idea that Love itself is all conquering and sufficient a misconception which many subscribe to. It's downright important and essential yes, but remember so is Commitment, Compromise and Communication. Never give up on those and never ever ever stop communicating.