When I was seventeen, a calm-looking boy offered his hand to me and introduced himself. It felt odd that someone would reach out and shake my hand when we were in a small, low-key videoke place. I took it and as expected, there were… NO sparks. Little did I know that the boy who offered his hand would someday ask for mine in marriage.
I met my fiance, Lawrence, when I was still in college. I was attending a friend’s birthday party, and I was told that a tall lanky boy decided he wanted to know me. So when I was about to go home, he asked for my number. He did not call or text–which made me curious. But through the wonderful power of the web, he was able to ask me out on a date.
That was more than a decade ago.
Being with someone for a long time made me reflect on how I grew as a person–more importantly, how I grew as a partner. Let me share some of the insights I’ve learned from my 10-year relationship.
1. The change in “relationship status” is not the end game.
When Lawrence and I first started dating, Friendster was the most popular social media network. (Yes, that’s how old our relationship is). Aside from getting a lot of testimonials, the coolest thing you can do to have a popular profile is to change your relationship status. So when I finally said yes, I was very excited to change my relationship status from “Single” to “In a Relationship.”
But after years of changing social media networks from Friendster to Multiply to Plurk to Twitter to Facebook, I realized that the relationship status
(whether it’s single, in a relationship, it’s complicated, or married) is not what’s important. The end game is not to simply change the status but it’s to spend time and grow with another person.
2. It’s okay to skip “monthsaries.”
For the past 10 years, we have celebrated less than 20 monthsaries. Of course, when we were starting out, Lawrence and I will go out and give each other gifts. But as time passed, we started doing less celebrations–and it’s okay. Once in a while, Lawrence takes me out on a date on our monthsary. It’s nice and we have a good time, but I wouldn’t require him to treat me out every 28th of the month. I realized that we would rather celebrate our day-to-day dates rather than the monthsaries.
3. Getting to know your partner takes time (and effort).
When I was in college, I hated the color pink. I use the word hate because it wasn’t a simple dislike for the color–it was utter disgust. Now, a lot of my things are colored pink. Everyone changes and it is very evident in my fiance. He used to dream of becoming an IT professional. Now, he’s working as a Trainer and has shown great skill and passion for teaching. Recently, I learned that he has a ritual whenever he drives by a church.
The key is to always ask questions–even if they’re stupid ones. In our idle time, I usually ask Lawrence hypothetical questions to know what’s his opinion on mundane things. I also have a habit of recounting past memories and asking for his perspective. I literally wish that I am telepathic just so I can know what he’s thinking of. Up to this day, I still get surprised at how little I know about my fiance. I am constantly amazed at how wonderful he is and I can’t wait to know more about him.
4. Know how to show your love to your partner.
So, I took this little online test about Love Languages. I first heard about it when I was in Sunday school back when Sunday schools were a thing. The test results say that my love language is Acts of Service. I feel love and I show my love by doing something for another person. For example, I feel loved when Lawrence carries my bag while we walk around. I show love for Lawrence by cooking sinigang.
What’s interesting is that when I asked Lawrence to take the test, his results showed that his love language is Touch. He feels love and show love through touching. Finally, I understood why it has always been important to him that we constantly hold hands. This is a must even if he’s 6’1″ and I’m 4″6′. There are times when it feels awkward to hold hands because of our height difference, but he insists on it because that’s how he feels love.
Knowing how to communicate your love to your partner is important. Of course, it doesn’t always come easily as taking an online test. For me, it took an online test and a lot of trial and errors to be able to show my love for Lawrence.
5. A number is just a number.
10 years is just, well, 10 years. I don’t think that our relationship is better than anyone. Like any other couples, we’ve had our ups and downs.
Last week, we had dinner with Lawrence’s college friends. I realized that we were the only couple who isn’t married yet. In their little group, Lawrence was the first one who had a girlfriend in college. Now, he’s the last one getting married. But what does that mean? Nothing. It’s just an interesting trivia about our lives. It does not mean that the other couples are happier than we are. It doesn’t mean our future marriage will be more successful because we were together for a decade. I learned not to take any pressure with anything concerning our relationship’s statistics.
There are so many more things I learned in the time I spent with Lawrence. Ultimately, I learned how much he has contributed to who I am today. I am lucky to say that he has influenced me for the better. He is my source of inspiration and insights. And I look forward to being with him for 10, 20, 30, infinity years more!