Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Lessons Learnt: Relationships

There are certain things in life we learn from doing and certain things we learn from other people's experience. Unlike school subjects or college classes, the topics of these lessons aren't specifically disclosed. You have to know which lesson to learn and which wisdom to take out of it all. One of the things you can do to become a successful person in life is to acknowledge the lessons you've learnt and, if possible, share them with other people. Sharing knowledge, as opposed to popular belief, can actually make you smarter, wiser and a better person. Plus, it can be so much fun! Here's to lessons learnt and me sharing them with you.

For over three years, Firu and I have been a couple. Almost four years, even. You can read how we met here, if you like. Four years might seem like a lot, it might seem like very little. This is the only actual relationships we've ever had too. And, during our time together, we have shared tears, anger and laughter. We've been through a lot and learnt a great deal from our experiences. It's not to say we've got it all figured out. Like everyone else, we've had our ups and downs - especially with the constant distance between us. But the lessons we've taken helped us a lot to cope with our situations and stress. We hope they will help you guys too.

Communication Is Key

Never underestimate the power of communication! This is true for all relationships. If you don't let each other know how you feel and what you're thinking, chances are they might not understand what you mean. Often two people actually mean well but they get into a huge fight because each fails to communicate their thoughts. The most common mistake is letting your emotions get the best of you, keeping you from conversing with a calm and open mind. It is best to make it a rule never to yell at and say hurtful things to each other. Sometimes it's just the heat of the moment and, trust me, once you say these things and you see the look on their face, you will feel really awful. Just try to talk to them normally, addressing them like they're your equal. You will appreciate it too when they do the same.

All that being said, the lack of communication is also key. There are things that are meant to be said but not meant to be heard. You need to distinguish between one and the other. Sure, now you're a couple and you share everything. But, well, not everything exactly. Sometimes holding your tongue is a wise choice, because some pain needs only time to heal and some words are too hurtful to keep. Just ask yourself three essential questions before you speak: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Learn to Let Go

Couples fight. It's just a fact. If you never fight, either your time hasn't come yet or you're in big trouble. The most common situation I stumble upon is nobody wants to apologise or offer truce first. They think they'd lose if they do so. Some of my friends can fight for days, even months, on end with their significant other. So stubborn, refusing to back down. This can lead to the inevitable breakup or, worse, the end of a friendship you once had. This rule applies to all relationships too! Look, when you fight, one thing you need to keep in mind is "Is this fight worth ruining our relationship?" If it is, then by all means, break it off. But if it's a fight over something seriously petty, why not just let it go? I mean really, would you rather lose the love of your life over what time he was supposed to call? Would you rather spend the night sulking instead of spending time together just because she didn't pick up the phone? Think about it.

See Other People

Before you start running to the hottie next door, let me tell you that is not what I mean. Okay, I admit that spending quality time together is fun and intoxicating. But it's good to hangout with other people too. Go on group dates or just hangout with a bunch of your friends. Pictured above are our closest mutual friends. We love hanging out together and going places. Man, how much I miss them. When we're all together, I get to see different sides of Firu, opinions about him from other people and I get to be a friend to him. Sure, quality times are great but hanging out with friends is priceless. It also helps our people-skill.

While it is great to have mutual friends, having individual friends is also recommended. It's healthy to have friends that are just yours and friends that are just theirs. It's not to say your friends cannot meet your significant other or vice versa. But there are obviously people who are forever closer to you than to them and the other way around. For instance, Firu and I live in different towns. We have friends in our town and, though we both met the other's friends, they are not exactly our mutual friends - plus there are some others the other hasn't met yet. Don't be afraid to have friends of your own, there's nothing wrong with that. For reasons why, see the next tip.

Separation Is Your Friend

If you want to see how healthy and functional your relationship is, try being away from each other. A good relationship can survive a little separation. You know the saying, "if you love something, let it go?" Well, it applies on a daily basis. Let your husband go to work, hang with his guys and not tell you where he's been. If he comes back, chances are, he still loves you. On the other hand, you also go to work, hang with your girls and not tell him where you were. Chances are, he won't ask. Respect each other's freedom and give each other some space. Respect yourself to distance yourself from him from time to time. It's only when you're away that you miss him, right? Being away from one another gives you space to grow both individually and as a couple.

A relationship should not corrupt you. Never lose your sense of individuality, no matter how much you love your partner. It's healthy to have something that only you love and something that only he gets. As an individual, it's only natural that you have your own interests. Don't be afraid to explore your individuality, despite of him/her. Try getting away from the other person physically and mentally, then is when you truly put your love to the test.

Remember the Good Stuff

If all else fails, if you've done all of the above and keep wondering why you're unhappy, try this. Remember the good stuff. Why do you stay in a relationship with this person? Do they make you happy? When was the last time you laughed together? Or, even, when was the last time he/she made you laugh? If you can't remember the good stuff, there's your sign. Maybe this relationship isn't meant to be. Maybe it's time you end it. This is also a good tip when you just had a big fight and you consider breaking up with the other person. Ask yourself, can you imagine your life without him/her? Is it any better? Are you willing to live without all the things they bring to your life? Often couples break up over and over, they get back together and end it all over again. When they don't get back together anymore, you know it's coming. The way I see it, if you can see yourself living life without them once, you will keep seeing it. So what is the point of getting back together? Don't put yourself through the it all over again. Also, if you can still remember the good stuff, is it all worth it compared to all the hardships the other person brings to the relationship?

Truth be told, there are probably still plenty more things you need to know in a relationship. But, trust me, you needn't read books or articles about relationships to make it work. Learning from experience is also the way to go. A relationship will (hopefully) change you. Hopefully, for the better. If it doesn't change you or turn you into someone you wouldn't want to be, maybe you should get out of the burning car. The most resounding advice I can give you: Do not forget who you are. You can change, it's inevitable. But you should be happy with who you are as you do. Also, I'm sure I'm not the only one in a relationship out there. If you guys have some wisdom to share, please do leave a comment below. It would really help everyone - including me. Thanks for reading, hope it helps!

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