In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to write a post about something I’ve never blogged about: Love and relationships. I am in a relationship, and I love talking about love, watching lovey-dovey movies, listening to love songs (especially Taylor Swift), but I didn’t think it was necessarily a feminist topic. However, most people deal with love and relationships, whether you’re a feminist or not, whether you’re a man, woman, straight, gay, bisexual, trans, or any other category that I didn’t list, so I think it counts. After attending the Married for 25+ Years Panel at the 2015 Love Talk Film Festival at JMU, I realized how important it is to talk about relationships and ask questions to the people who have made relationships work.
As stated on the promotional poster, “Have you ever wondered what makes a relationship last for decades? Well, now’s your chance to ask people who have been there & done that.”
Here are the questions that were asked by students at the panel:
- How did you know your partner was “the one”?
- What is one thing you wish you knew before you got married?
- You met so young, how did your relationship change over time?
- How did/do you overcome rough patches?
- How did having children change your relationship?
- How did distance effect your relationship?
- Do you think that religion/faith had an effect on the longevity of your relationship?
All of the answers to these questions gave a piece of advice or a life experience that someone could relate to. Some of the couples were religious, some were not. Some have been together since high school, some since college, some met in their later twenties. After every answer these couples gave, I found myself smiling and jotting down notes. Here are a few of the things I learned:
There is so much equality needed for a relationship to work. Specifically, the best relationships are when your #1 concern is for the other person, and their #1 concern is for you. Relationships require trust, respect, honesty, and a lot of hard work. Especially when going through rough patches, balance is key. It’s important to be united and by each other’s side, especially when you have children. Your relationship is never going to be perfect, but if you work hard enough, it will be perfect for you and your partner.
This panel got me thinking about my own parents, who are approaching their 27th wedding anniversary this June. I wanted to ask them the same questions from this panel, to see if they had any different answers. They’ve been together since college, so when I asked them the question about “the one”, they remembered saying “I love you” for the first time (in the laundry mat in Ithaca, NY), but that they never really had a moment where they knew they were “the one”, it just grew over time. They told me that marriage and relationships are a huge commitment, and they are harder the longer you’re in it. They told me that marriage counseling helps during rough patches. Because they met so young, they’re different people then when they first met, but they aged and changed together. The most important thing is to know yourself before you make that commitment.
These days, when so many marriages end in divorce, I think it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you put a right on your finger. I’m so glad that I went to this panel and talked to my parents about their relationship, because they gave me good advice for the future. Just talking to a variety of people about love helped me gain perspective on my own relationship, and I would recommend for other people to do the same. Ask your parents, whether or not they are still together, ask a teacher, friend, anyone who has been married long enough to know how difficult and rewarding marriage truly is. Happy Valentines Day y’all, and keep spreading the love.