I know that there are millions of couples out there with way more experience than my partner and me. But we have known each other for seven years, six of which were spent in a relationship, and one of which was spent in engagement bliss.
Everyone whom I’ve encountered since the engagement, from old friends to nosey aunts to our grocer, has asked me when we’re planning to get married. I’ve been inundated with “Just seal the deal before it’s too late!” to “You’re not getting any younger!” to “What are you waiting for.”
As frustrating as it is having to explain myself to everyone, I know that it will be way more frustrating in the future if we choose to rush things in the present.
I’m not saying that we foresee a breakup in our future. On the contrary, it is because we don’t want to see any trace of divorce that we’re taking our time now. Sure, this is very subjective and will vary according to the relationship.
But I for one think that it is important to not just be on the same page but to also do our best to write the same ending to our story. [Read: 13 questions to ask yourself before you decide to get married]
Many people get into committed partnerships with the fairy-tale notion that love is enough to sustain them, and I think that’s idealistic bullshit.
Common challenges for committed couples
If you have no clue what I’m talking about, here’s a list of some of the most common challenges faced by committed couples. This should give you an idea of what to expect, should you decide that it is time for you and your partner to take your relationship to the next level.
#1 You get bored. When you have been with the same person for years, it isn’t very surprising that you will eventually get bored. I suppose listening to the same jokes and losing that sense of mystery will turn what was once pa$$ionate into something repetitive.
#2 The fire has died down. From lunch-break $ex at the office to surprise gifts, new relationships somehow boast more of these little fissures than long-term ones.
It’s not that couples in long-term relationships make less of an effort. It’s more that once you build a life together, you share more serious responsibilities and tend to have less time for the so-called frivolous things.
Even so, making time for the little things is very important and should be indulged in every so often.
#3 You want to scratch the itch. Say you meet someone at a work thing, and you hit it off. One drink leads to another, and you know that the person you’re chatting with will gladly go home with you.
Thing is, you already have someone waiting for you at home, and you know that even the thought of cheat*ng is wrong. You have too much to lose, making the itch not worth scratching. Oh, how different committed life is compared to singledom.
#4 You wonder what’s out there. After being with someone for so long, it is only normal that you think about this big, beautiful world of ours, and you wonder if you made the right choice. This usually happens when you unwittingly meet someone you click with.
It’ll have you wondering about being with A, yet you click so well with B, so who’s to say that A truly is the right one for you? The same can be said about the life choices you made together. Was settling down in the suburbs the right thing to do when you could have both traveled the world instead?
#5 You ponder on “what ifs.” There is no denying that people in committed relationships tend to let their minds drift off and entertain “what if” scenarios. What if I hadn’t proposed to her? What if I didn’t have kids with him? What if I didn’t give up my career to move to Seoul with him? What if we didn’t agree to buy the house?
Although some may argue the contrary, I believe that it is unhealthy to envision another life that somehow seems more appealing than your real one.
#6 Money overtakes love. Whether there is too much or not enough in a relationship, money undoubtedly creates a myriad of problems for everyone involved. It is no longer a matter of “my money, your money” but is now “our money.”
It is hard enough making financial decisions alone, let alone with your partner, who may have a whole different set of priorities and opinions.
#7 You stop working toward the same goal. It isn’t uncommon for people to realize midway that they don’t want what they’re striving so hard for. For example, many couples get married, buy a house, have kids, and so on.
It is not uncommon for one spouse to wake up one morning and realize that they don’t want kids or don’t want to go into debt buying a house. Once your shared goals change, that’s when problems crop up.
#8 You don’t care as much. Whether it is not being more delicate with your partner’s feelings or forgetting the little things like birthdays and anniversaries, there is no denying that what used to be super important at the start of your relationship carries less weight now.
#9 It’s now all about “us.” One of the joys of being single or in a new relationship is that you were allowed to be as selfish as you wanted to. You could move to Nepal and climb a mountain, quit your high-paying job and work for a nonprofit, or fall off the grid and live with hippies in a commune.
However, now that you’ve committed yourself to someone, you’re responsible for their feelings, all the way to their well-being. It is no longer just about you anymore.
#10 Children get in the way. Most couples in committed relationships end up having kids. Whether you wanted them wholeheartedly or just decided to be a part of convention, there is no denying that children bring on a whole other level of added stress and inconvenience.
Some relationships simply can’t take the added pressure of children, and although I’m not saying that kids will be your downfall, I’m saying that both of you need to be absolutely sure that you want them.
#11 Communication deteriorates. Another big challenge faced by those in committed relationships is communication. As the years go by, you’re probably more in tune with each other than way back in the day.
The years together have probably allowed you to read between the lines, understand your partner’s moods, and memorize their likes and dislikes. As sweet and natural as this is, this is where the problem lies. You a$$ume that you know each other so well that you inadvertently stop communicating.
#12 Lack of freedom. The thing about commitment is that you’re now a twosome instead of a single entity. You will have to accept that you will have way less privacy and “me” time.
One problem that I still can’t get over is having to explain myself every time I make plans to head out. Whether it’s going out for ladies’ night with my friends or off on a trip for work, I always have to let my partner know where I’m off to and what I’m doing.
It’s not that he doesn’t trust me. It’s more about caring for one another and wanting to know what the other is up to, which is part and parcel of being in a committed relationship.
#13 It’s hard to leave. The biggest problem that couples in committed relationships face is knowing that it isn’t easy to call it quits. After you’ve spent years building a life with this person, it is not simple packing up and walking out the door.
There are kids to think about, joint a$$ets, financial issues, and a sh*t ton of paperwork to sort out before you can legally call it quits. Not just that, the turmoil and trauma of going through a breakup with someone you chose to spend your life with is not easy to do.
That’s why many people choose to stay married even if they’re unhappy. I suppose the trick is finding someone whom you can still love and cherish even after the flames of newfound pa$$ion have died down.
Being in a committed relationship is not an easy thing to do, and even if you find the right person, challenges will keep coming your way. You just have to be grateful for the love and companionship that your partner is offering and make the most of your shared life together.
By Lianne Choo