My relationship with my partner has weathered many storms. Some nearly crushed us completely, while others we scraped by with nothing but love and sheer will to prove the naysayers wrong. Those times we almost broke, I clung to all the subtle hints that reminded me my relationship was worth fighting for. They're not always easy to spot — hell, sometimes we had to search with a magnifying glass — but they're the reasons we've come as far as we have, (almost) thirteen years and two children later.
My experience with relationships is somewhat atypical. My parents divorced when I was young and their relationships with other people post-divorce, were both rocky and unhealthy. I struggled with extremely low self-esteem and self worth, which only became more magnified as my friends in school started dating. I'd never been "the girl who had a boyfriend," so I'd stoop to occasionally making one up to fit in and find some common ground with my peers. My first real kiss wasn't until I was a freshman in high school — ages past my schoolmates — and even then, I had no idea how to maneuver around another person's feelings. Everything modeled around me was anything but unconditional love or security or healthy.
Those years out of high school, trying to understand what a relationship was or "should be," was difficult. I married at barely 18 and with a false sense of all the things I lacked growing up. Inevitably, things came crashing down just four years later when we finally parted ways. I look back on that time as a learning lesson, not just in love but in myself. Had I not been in that relationship, I might not know the signs of a committed, supportive partner I could spend my life with.
So now, as my current partner and I navigate all the highs and lows of our life together, even when all feels lost I can't deny that our relationship is what love is supposed to be. It may have taken years to fully comprehend the complicated emotion of love, and all that it entails, but with him I do. With that said, here are some of the things that remind me daily we're worth it, even if they aren't always obvious.