DESIGN MY LIFE: be in a committed relationship

Today I’d like to continue sharing my intentions for my life in my more extended DESIGN MY LIFE series. Yesterday I explained how I work in a balanced way and today is about my relationship.

Be in a committed relationship.

I would love to say that my relationship with Mr. Lively has been a bed of thorn-free roses, but that’s a lie.

It’s not that surprising, since no relationship is perfect.

But still, I was a bit shocked to find out that someone who is as amazing as Mr. Lively didn’t leave me feeling completed, whole, and perfect.

From all that I had heard about “knowing,” I was downright confused as to what “knowing” really meant.

If things felt perfect, then I would “know,” right?

I pretty much expected that I’d hear some Charlton Heston voice announce to me one day “Mr. Lively is your guy.” Then the angels would pop out of the clouds and I would be whisked away to some magical place were reality, cellulite, and student loans didn’t exist.

But that never happened.

Disappointing as that fact might be, it was nothing compared to the time that someone looked me in the eye and said that he wasn’t the one for me. That I was supposed to be with someone five years older than myself. This person was someone I looked up to considerably but did not know Mr. Lively. That blanket statement shook me to my core and made me question everything.

What if this person was right? What if there was someone else out there named Mr. Older that was supposed to make me perfect and would then cause those angel clouds to part so I could live in Never Never Land?

It was a confusing time, for sure.

But through all of my fears, Mr. Lively stood by my side. Instead of feeling offended or angry or sad about what that person told me, he felt empathy for me because he knew that was a lot of pressure and expectation from someone who didn’t know us very well.

(Yeah, he might not be perfect, but sometimes he’s pretty darn close.)

Anyways, I say this all so that it hopefully helps someone out there. I’m not sure how, but I pray that this situation in my life is going to be used for good.

So now it’s time to come to the point: I had a lot of sorting out to do about the whole concept of “knowing.” And I have finally come to a spiritual a-ha moment which has brought me a tremendous amount of peace, joy, and even more love.

I have finally recognized that what I want more than anything is to be in a committed relationship that lasts a very, very long time. And in the past, I was approaching everything backwards.

Before, I used to think that I would find “Mr. Right” and that he would be so amazing that I would suddenly be a perfect girlfriend/partner that was ready for a more serious commitment. That by falling “in love” with someone was going to be so amazing that I would be ready for forever, amen, and “I do.”

But all that did was leave me feeling a bit empty inside. All of that expectation left me feeling like I binge ate icing rather than eating a satisfying piece of cake. It clouded all the things that were amazing about our relationship and left me scanning our life for holes, leaks, and cracks.

Ugh. You are lucky you weren’t in a relationship with me at the time.*

However, I’ve since made a discovery that has literally changed my life: I’ve finally fessed up to the fact that I really do want to be in a committed relationship. That comes first. I want to learn what that relationship will have to teach me about myself, what it will teach me about others, what it will teach me about love, and what it will teach me about having a family someday.

This also means that I have to be realistic in what a committed relationship means: unconditional, acceptance, joy, peace, mercy, forgiveness, and real love.

It doesn’t mean perfect and it doesn’t mean “Mr. Right.” 

Then, once I owned up to that fact and I accepted what that kind of relationship would be like (both good and bad), it was up to me to pick out who I wanted to be in a partnership like that.

And the obvious answer was Mr. Lively.

By allowing myself to put the spiritual side of the relationship before the humanity of myself and Mr. Lively, I stopped weighing myself down with a bunch of expectation and illusion. It allowed me to fully enjoy all the amazing traits and love we have to offer one another. It stops me from looking for flaws to indicate that we aren’t perfect.

It let’s me see all that is good without a veil of ugly selfish expectation.

So now, whether we are cuddling or arguing I have my priorities set.

It’s not about him “meeting my every whim and expectation” it’s about choosing to be together through whatever comes our way.

Though that might sound disheartening or sad, it’s actually been the most freeing and loving experience of my life.


* Except you, Mr. Lively! I love you.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Vanessa

    Great post! This has definitely made me think about my current situation and realize that “the one” fantasy is just that and it takes work on yourself as well as a couple to have a successful relationship. Thanks!

  2. Laina

    Jess, I love this post! I’ve been dating my boyfriend now for over 2.5 years, which is by far my longest relationship ever. I attribute a similar a-ha moment in myself (along with comparability, love, and his general awesomeness) to the success and happiness in our relationship. It’s not about perfection, it’s about having a

  3. Laina

    Partner through thick and thin – that is way more interesting and balancing than any perfect dream relationship could be. So glad you are in a happy place! (sorry about the first half of the comment posting prematurely – iPhone user error)

  4. Susan

    I just wanted to say that I don’t think this sounds disheartening or sad at all! I think you’re spot on – it’s about choosing to be with someone, and continually reaffirming that choice.

  5. Haha, I love this line: “I would be whisked away to some magical place were reality, cellulite, and student loans didn’t exist.” That’s how I thought life would be when I got married–everything in order with white picket fences all around.

    I completely understand what you mean when you say that you want to see what a relationship can teach you about yourself, and others, and family. I’ve been with my husband for almost a decade, starting in high school, through college, and now through a few years in “the real world” and I’m still amazed at how much we can teach each other, how much my love for him keeps growing, how there are still more things we can learn about each other even after all this time.

    I had a dream the other night that was kind of scary in a lot of ways but one thing that really stuck out to me was the comfort and security I felt when my husband was holding my hand. I think that’s what being in a committed relationship is all about. The holding on tight and feeling comfortable and secure even when things get tough, almost gripping tighter when things are hard and feeling the love that much stronger.

  6. Jill

    I love that you recognize the “choice” in staying together – I think so many people don’t actively make the choice to stick it out and so it’s not surprising when the marriage or relationship falls apart. But use the word carefully because it’s just as easy to “choose” not to stay in the relationship. There are freedoms in choosing but work to have no freedom of un-choosing. No plan B. After almost 10 (ten!?!?!) years of marriage my husband and I have definitely had the experience of having to choose one another over and over again. And it’s worth it!

  7. NVB

    Love this post. So much of our culture is overwhelmed with romanticism that we forget how raw and relentless true love and commitment really is. It reminds me of a quote I read just last week, that moved me…
    “I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.”
    When you analyze it, it is not romantic; however, it speaks truth that (I believe) many of us can recognize and understand. Sometimes simple truths are far more romantic than any fairytale.

  8. Ashlee

    Wow Jess…I honestly don’t have words for this! It touched me so much! Thank you for opening up and wearing your heart on your sleeve like this!

  9. If he totally fulfilled you, he’d be God. No human being can make us totally fulfilled, only God can do that.

  10. Jess

    Thank you so much, ladies! It was really hard to write this post (or rather, live after this post was published). It’s something that was a very recent lesson, so it’s still a work in progress. But I’m excited to see where this all leads!

  11. Wow, I totally needed this post, thank you Jess! I’ve been going through a very similar train of thought lately! This has really helped.

    And NVB’s quote was totally on the ball as well.

  12. Lyn

    Thank you for saying this! I think so many people (women especially) have unrealistic expectations about how romantic and “easy” love will be with the right person, but then when things get hard, so many people just give up. The very best part about love and relationships is the things you learn from each other when you are open, honest and give each other grace. I had the same romantic expectations as you, but have realized similar things as you through my relationship with my husband. I feel so lucky to have him and to love him in a way that I never thought possible. This is what people should know about true love and the intention in life to live with it and in it. Commitment through the good and the bad is what makes life and love so great. Thank you for saying it!

  13. kelly

    A lovely and wonderful post. I think everyone thinks these things. Thank you.

  14. Very wise thoughts! It’s very good, that you’ve finally understood, that ideal people don’t exist and we aren’t perfect too. It’s no use waiting for so-called “Mr. Right”- you may waste your life. All expectations are in vain, because it can’t be so easy as we expect it to be. Primarily, love is a a complex process, the first passion will soon pass away and here the real life starts. Many pairs can’t deal with daily routine and with each other’s flaws, and break up. But to prevent it, you both should be strong enough to handle it and if you manage to do it, then your feelings have passed the test.

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