So I’ve made lots of mistakes in my life: I’ve cut my own bangs, thought that 8:30 a.m. classes in college sounded like a good idea, and once I even tried to substitute sweet creamer for milk in macaroni and cheese (for the love of all that is holy, please don’t ever try that). However, one thing that I can say I did right is marrying my husband. I would have made it official within a few months of dating him, but we actually ended up dating for years before getting married, and it served us well (especially because I managed to grow out my bangs before taking those wedding photos).
Our story, like many, is full of ups, downs, twists, turns, and my girlfriends stealing my phone and texting him bold and flirtatious messages on my behalf (thanks, guys!). He and I knew each other for almost eight years before we got engaged, nearly five of which were spent dating. I’m in no way saying that a long courtship (if you want to make it sound fancy) is the only way to go since we all probably know those couples who locked it down, like, immediately are doing just fine. However, it has worked well for us, and for other couples I know, and I think there's something to that. Like, I'm pretty sure there's a special kind of magic trick that makes dating for a super long time before making it ~legal~ result in a stronger relationship. I wanted to share a few reasons why I suspect that’s the case:
They Have Probably Helped You Move, AKA Been With You Through The Worst Day Of Your Life
Speaking of moving, the longer you’re with someone, the higher the chances that at least one of you will move. Perhaps you’ll move in together, perhaps you won’t, but I think we all have that secret inner layer of personality that only shows itself when you’re in the act of moving, and you’re hungry and hot and tired and sweaty and all the forks are packed and you just need to eat something and OMG JUST ORDER A PIZZA DAMMIT.
Like A World Class Gymnast, You Become Good At Routines...
If variety is the spice of life, then routine is the bottled water of life. It’s consistent, it’s reliable, it’s flavorless, and it’s necessary. I can’t think of anything more routine than gas stations, which is one of the few places where I’m wont to buy bottled water, so that really brings the metaphor full-circle, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, my point is, that when you’re with someone for a long time, you’ve been with them through all the boring stuff, like gas stations.
...And Then You Deviate From Those Routines.
One time, like eight years ago, my husband and I went hiking in the snow to go see a frozen waterfall. I know, WTF? Why would we do that? Well, because we felt like it. We'd enough lazy weekends at home to know we wanted to experience something else, which — surprise — made for a cool experience and some pretty good pictures, too.
Perhaps They've Seen A Life Change Or Two (Shout Out To Cutting Bangs, Again)
In addition to frozen waterfalls, we both graduated college, moved cities (multiple times) and moved states together, so yeah, there were definitely a few years there where we were keeping it interesting. I mean, who needs comfort and a reliable home when you could move to a new place where you don't know anyone?
At Least One Of You Will Be Sick At Some Point, So Get Out Your Hazmat Suits
There’s a reason “in sickness and in health” makes the frequent appearance in wedding vows. Personally, I’m think it should be “in stomach flu, regular sickness, and health” because that is some next level awfulness and, if and when you make it through, you guys will be tighter than pre-baby Spanx.
They've Seen You Make Poor Decisions (And No, I'm Not Talking About Bangs Still)
Never mind that my partner knew me in college, back when I was trying (read: failing) to understand my alcohol tolerance, he also accompanied me to a Bon Jovi concert where I, for some reason, was compelled to stand on my chair and fist pump slowly...and he married me anyway.
You Have ~Plenty~ Of Time To Consider Your Decision
My partner and I spent roughly a year and a half living nearly three hundred miles apart. Many parts of the arrangement were brutal, like the fact that we weren’t able to see each other at the end of a long day, and we either had to drive across a mountain range or take a prop plane to see each other. Though, I did appreciate having those many opportunities to revisit the choice I was making in being with him, especially during those long, long, windy drives.
Nothing makes you more sure of choosing to be with someone than choosing it over and over and over again, for years.
You’ve Seen Them Through The Holidays
To each their own, but I firmly believe that surviving the holidays should be a must-do for every couple before they make it maritally official. Especially if your holidays involve travel, extended family, and alcohol. It’s best to see how that combination shakes out before you lock it down on paper.
You’ve Probably Made It Through At Least One Disagreement (Side Note: I'm Still Waiting For My Turn With The Remote, Thanks, Dear)
One of the biggest issues my partner and I faced three years in our relationship was what to do when he got into grad school two states away. Should I stay? Should I go? Ugh, I’m feeling stressed just thinking about it. Luckily, I got a job at the same school he ultimately attended, so it all worked out, but those were some ridiculously stressful weeks. Though, as cheesy at is sounds, they did make us stronger.
You Know Their Strengths And Weaknesses — And How Both Affect You
By the time you’ve spent a few years with someone, you probably know their personality inside and out. However, you’d also had a chance to notice how you feel when their moods change and shift, which is just as important.
You've Probably Reached The Annoying Nickname Stage
I would tell you what my nickname for my husband is, but I value what level of respect I imagine you have for me, so...let's just say it exists and it's the kind of shamelessly nerdy thing that two people can only call each other when they feel so, so sure the other is committed to dealing with them for life.