It was bound to happen. Months and months of bliss and getting to know each other. Love letters, flowers, dinners, all the yumminess involved when you initially court.
I won't go into the boring details but will say we were both beyond overtired having driven over 14 straight hours to visit family for Thanksgiving.
My instinct when my beau Jason said something unfavorable towards me was to run.
In my past I didn't always follow my instincts. Not that anyone necessarily said or did anything terribly wrong persay, but my gut often told me that I was trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Yet I stuck things out.
For example, one guy I dated loved race car driving. I didn't. Yet on Sunday afternoons I sat and pretended to enjoy watching cars go round and round a racetrack. I also hate being cold, but in another relationship acted as if winter camping in frigid temperatures was right up my alley.
I chalk it up to insecurities, to not knowing myself enough or wanting to fit into societal norms. I had no idea who I was at 20 and often relied on the opinions and advice of others.
"You should really settle down."
"He's a great guy, you won't do better."
Or I shallowly liked the way I looked on paper with certain men. Being known as an "attractive couple" was something I enjoyed being labeled as.
At 41 I see the world a little differently. I used to think I needed a man to survive. That I couldn't do it on my own. The past two years as a single mother has taught me that I'm more than capable of being solo--that I'm stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.
I've learned it's okay to speak up. Jason loves hunting. He grew up hunting with his father and it's part of his family history. You won't see me tracking a deer in the woods anytime soon but I appreciate his need to hunt. Plus, when's he's off on a hunting trip it's time I get to do something good for myself.
I've also learned you don't have to yell and scream to get your point across if you are with the right person. Adults, just like children, typically raise their voices when they think they aren't being heard.
So instead of jumping out of the car when Jason snapped at me, I tried to explain why I was so upset. It took a few bleary-eyed hours for us to settle our argument, but it was constructive and healing. We both recognize that neither of us deliberately tries to hurt the other, that our intentions come from a place of caring and love.
Look, Jason and I aren't perfect. Not even close. We are both very stubborn, my son likes to say it's because we are both former athletes and our competitive nature takes over.
But we do respect each other. We recognize that while we have many things in common, there are also differences that we have to accept in order to be a healthy couple.
The fireworks aren't going to be as bright and strong as they were in the beginning, but what is emerging is something even better. A foundation of trust, love, and open communication to build from.
This Holiday season, that foundation is by far my most favorite gift.