When I encounter someone new, be it a class mate, a professor or a friend of a friend, the first thing they tend to notice is my wedding band and engagement ring, leading to their horrified or happy expressions when I talk about being married.
As cliché as it sounds, my husband Joe and I are great examples of high school sweethearts. In my typical extroverted style, I befriended the new transfer student and some months later, we began dating.
For about 6 months, everything was wonderful. After graduation we went to the beach together, and I met his mom and extended family. Then he left for basic training for the US Army in early summer.
He was not there for my 18th birthday, and he was not there to help me move into college. I also was not there for his basic training graduation, or his move from Oklahoma, to Texas, to Georgia, to Florida. I never got to hug him before he left for Afghanistan nearly two months ago. I am convinced that he and I could keep Skype in business even if everyone else stopped using it.
While I was looking for advice for my freshman year of college on websites like Pinterest and Buzzfeed and HerCampus, a very common theme I found was to ditch any significant other you had in high school and start over. Thousands of blogs and articles will tell you that long-distance never works.
While I am sure that is true for some people, I know from experience that it works if both parties put in the effort to keep it working. A relationship is like a cactus. It will be a great pain if you do not treat it with care, but with proper watering and upkeep, it can blossom into something beautiful and long lasting.
And while many may think that a cactus does not need a ton of care, consistency in temperature and sunlight and enough water will ensure it will live and flourish. The comparable needs of attention, communication and understanding can help a relationship grow and thrive.
Also, there is no way of saying that there is a perfect time to get married or that your relationship must last so long before getting married for it to last. No two people are like any other, thereby making no relationship like any other. For my relationship, we were together a year and a half before getting married and we decided that it would be best for our financial situation and long term goals.
We understand that marrying is not the main goal these days among millennials. As the hilarious comedian Aziz Ansari said in his book “Modern Romance,” young people “have other priorities as well: getting educated, trying out different jobs, having a few relationships, and, with luck, becoming a more fully developed person.”
This shifting of priorities and decision making tactics is called emerging adulthood. Ansari goes into deeper discussion of the differences of this new stage of life in comparison to the previous generation’s development into adults throughout the book.
If you would like a better understanding of this great cultural and technological shift in relationships, I highly recommend his book. I got the audio book and it was hilarious hearing Aziz Ansari read it himself.
As far as this new stage in life, Joe and I are glad to have each other through this scary emerging adulthood. Knowing that there is someone that you connect deeply with and will always be by your side can be comforting in emerging adulthood and forward into crazy world of real adulthood.