Relationships Are Supposed to be Work Sometimes

I’ve been messaging strangers online long before the days of dating apps.

In 1994, my mom got us a brand-spanking-new Apple 2GS with AOL, dial-up internet, Oregon Trail, and the entire Encarta encyclopedia on CD-ROM.

I happily created my first screenname and spent the next few years coming up with the ~coolest~ away messages and finding random chat rooms. I clearly remember being 14 and lying about my age online every time someone asked the age-old questions “A/S/L?”

Years later in 2010, I moved to NYC and didn’t know anyone.

Online Dating

So, I joined OkCupid. It was free, it was location-based, and I had no experience with online dating.

My mom had spent a lot of time telling me I shouldn’t meet strangers from online because I could and probably would be super raped and murdered.

So, that colored my thinking when it came to actually meeting a complete stranger from the internet.

I met my now-husband about 6 months after moving to NYC. We matched on OkCupid and messaged back and forth for probably a good month before I felt comfortable enough to meet him in person.

We met in a very public place (Union Square) and spent our first date at Barnes & Noble and taking a walk through the city. Luckily, he was who he said he was and I was not, in fact, murdered.

We were 24 when we met. Looking back now — we were just babies! But I know I felt fully adult and ready for a relationship at the time.

And it was very interesting to me, the idea of online dating. We both were on there to find a relationship. We went into meeting each other with the intention of dating and trying out a relationship. It was just a wholly different mindset/approach from meeting someone at a bar or through friends (at least for me).

Relationships are hard sometimes. But they’re also beautiful.

Yesterday, a Facebook friend posted a question asking how you knew your partner was “the one” and whether anyone “knew” early on in a relationship, like getting married only a few months or a year after knowing someone.

And I thought it was an interesting question.

Here is what I responded:

Personally, I don’t think a year or 2 is long enough to truly “know” anyone, at least for me, unless you’ve lived together almost the whole time. I think you don’t really know a partner until you’ve lived together and dealt with real-life issues like stress, struggle, arguments, and frustration and see how you approach those challenges. They can bring you together as a team or tear you apart.

My husband and I have been together for 9 years and got married right around our 5 year anniversary — and we still felt very young! But despite being 29 when we married, we’d been together 5 years, lived together for 4, had fights, moved homes, held each other while one of us was sick, crying, or dealing with a family member’s death. We’ve celebrated together, mourned together, and argued against each other. It’s all part of life. Everyone argues or gets snappy or stressed or has a bad day, but there is a set of core values and rules, such as never name-calling in an argument and communicating openly when there’s an issue instead of bottling it up until it explodes.

I don’t believe in “soulmates” or “the one.” I believe that the grass is greenest where you water it. When both partners are able and willing to put effort into the relationship, to communicate, to not be jerks to each other, to say “I love you” and really mean it, to put in the WORK that every relationship requires.

I believe that the grass is greenest where you water it.

Pic from my wedding day 1/23/16.

From the very beginning of our relationship, my husband and I have said, “It’s us against the world, babe.” And that’s how we approach life: as each other’s teammate — who will stand up for them against anyone else and take their side when necessary and support them when they need it. We’ve been through plenty of things that could have torn us apart if we’d let them, but instead, they’ve each been opportunities to be each other’s teammate and support.

I just turned and asked my husband how he “knew” about me and he said he didn’t know, that he “just knew.” And then teased me for asking such a mushy question. Then he gave me a kiss and went back to his video game.

As a note, all relationships are work. People change and grow and how we relate to each other and our individual needs change over time. It’s about making each other’s needs equal to your own, it’s about compromise, and sometimes, it’s a little luck.

Work isn’t a bad thing.

Saying that relationships are “work” is NOT meant be a negative or bad thing or have negative connotations.

Everything worth having in life requires work. Parenting is hard work. A job, even a very satisfying and fulfilling one, is hard work. Achieving big goals is work. Writing a book is work. Running a business is work. Going to the gym is work.

Work isn’t a BAD THING. And I think sometimes when people think about romantic relationships requiring work, they think that means that the relationship isn’t right for them.

But I think it’s the opposite. If you love someone then you’re willing to work to have a good relationship. You’re willing to work through problems and arguments and work to better yourself (for both yourself and the other person), you’re willing to help them, to put their needs at the same priority as your own (not above or below — your needs are JUST AS IMPORTANT).

When my husband and I dealt with losing a family member, we were able to be each other’s strength. When we dealt with infertility and IVF, it could have torn us apart, but it didn’t. We made a conscious decision to be a team, be on the same side, and work through it and deal with it together.

There’s a saying of “love isn’t enough.”

And that’s true. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that alone is enough to sustain a relationship or for that relationship to be successful.

Love is a base, a foundation, on which you have to be ready and willing to build a good relationship. Love doesn’t make the bad days or bad moods or bad things go away. But someone loving you can make dealing with the bad stuff a little easier.

Every single day, we wake up and make a conscious choice to continue to be a team and go through life together and do the work to be happy.

Nothing worth having in life will be easy all the time.

Love and relationships included.

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Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” & “Concept to Conclusion.” jyssicaschwartz.com

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