Partners. Lovers. Boyfriends. Girlfriends. Soulmates. Better halves. Pain in the necks.
What would we do without them?
When it comes to being in love and being in a loving, committed relationships, things will not always been smooth sailing. Roads will not always be pothole-free. Ships sometimes might take on water (or seasickness may endure, if you’re anything like me). But regardless of these rough roads we sometimes must endure as couples, if you both love each other and are committed to one another, things will always work out in the long run. And in most lucky cases, that big blow out or that troubling time becomes something to laugh at later on, which is typically followed by the dismayed, “What we’re were even fighting about anyway?” question.
Being in love and spending your life committed to another person doesn’t always mean sunny skies and beautiful sunsets. The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever (I don’t care who disagrees otherwise). But the beauty of a true, loving relationship is when you fall into that sense of calm, that part of the relationship where things just “feel right”; no need to impress the other constantly, not having to act a certain way as to not cause offence, not minding your p’s and q’s, or withholding farts until they leave the room. In addition to being happy and in love, contentment is something to always strive for. That sense of them feeling like “home” the minute they walk into the room, or the way the quirk of their lip makes your heart flutter all over again. Relationships don’t always have to be sunshine and rainbows (or hot and steamy, if you know what I mean). As long as you’re both happy, there is no harm or foul.
Again, it’s common for couples to face rough roads sometimes. It’s normal to have spats and fights, and hissy fits when one of you doesn’t get your own way (or getting cranky when someone buys unripe bananas…right, Z?). While in the heat of the moment these episodes can be upsetting, they don’t last forever. Couples fight and bicker, and when the moment passes, it’s like nothing happened in the first place.
But when you’re living with several mental health issues that leave you “emotionally crippled” and sometimes “emotionally stunted”, sometimes fighting can seem like a life- or-death scenario. Sometimes those pissy moments become moments of extreme tension and triggers. When you spent your childhood being abused to the point that you didn’t learn how to properly express yourself and also having to hide your feelings, becoming an adult with mental illness can turn these tense conversations and disagreements into war zones in my head. Not only do I not know how to “argue” or “discuss” properly, I don’t always have the right emotional reactions or responses when my spouse’s mood is anything but happy and content. The minute I sense he’s tense, or moody, or grumpy, I’m instantly put into high alert. And of course my first automatic thought is, “What did I do to make him mad?”
This is why I believe that spouses (and most importantly, my husband) doesn’t get enough credit when it comes to living and loving someone with a mental health issue. Not only do with have “normal” couple problems, but we also have to deal with my mental health issue problems as well. Even though my husband has “normal” reactions when it comes bickering and hotly debating (God, can that man debate!), I know in his head, he’s also ends up being on high alert during our fights because my mood can be so unpredictable. Because I still can’t argue properly at the age of 27, even I don’t know how I’ll end up reacting when things get tense. And I can sometimes see it in his stance and his eyes when he approaches me in these moments. His posture is bracing for “Bitch Amanda” to have a complete meltdown over the stupidest criticism. The tension around his eyes is waiting for “Crybaby Amanda” to surface and have an emotional breakdown.
I know I don’t give my husband enough credit nor express my gratitude as much as I should. I know I’m not an easy person to live with all the time. I know having my mental health issues hanging over our heads (constantly waiting for the next episode to strike) takes it toll on us. My illnesses have affected our relationship over the years in many different ways. There are days I feel guilty because he doesn’t get to have a “normal” wife. He doesn’t get to always have that easy-going relationship that most couples get to have. Sometimes for us, things can be difficult. Our lives can be difficult to navigate, especially during my episodes when I’m so hateful towards myself that I have no room to feel anything else – including expressing my love for him. Even the days leading up to our wedding this past year, I had asked him several times, “Are you sure you want to marry me?” Because there are days where I believe he deserves better than me. He deserves a wife – a lover, a caregiver, a friend – who can keep her emotions in check. He deserves someone who doesn’t spend weeks trapped in a bed, fighting invisible demons. He deserves the world – and some days I know I don’t have the strength to give it to him. And that makes me sad.
But despite all this, my man deserves so much recognition and appreciation, because he has also went above and beyond when the call of duty to help care for me came early in our time together. He never once left my side, and he has done things for me that I know half the men in my life would never do. Does it hurt me to watch him be hurt by my pain? Yes, but still he constantly fights for me. I know loving someone with a mental health issue isn’t easy. I know he signed up for a lot of baggage and bad days once I told him about my past. Yet, he still never left.
I don’t know what I have done in this life to deserve someone as brave, and loyal, and loving as him, but somehow I won first prize. And while I know I don’t always express my gratitude enough, I am so thankful to have him in my life; I’m so grateful he’s my partner in crime and my best friend.
So for those of you out there who have a loving and supportive spouse like me, remember to give them credit where credit is due. We’re not the easiest to love nor the easiest people to understand, but to have someone stand by us through the good and the bad, that’s irreplaceable. I know we won’t always see eye-to-eye, and I know our fights may always be a little harder to handle than the average couple, but I still wouldn’t trade any of that for the world.
(And too bad, Z. You’re stuck with me now. ;))
So remember to give your spouse a big hug and kiss tonight. They deserve it…and so much more.
And as always,
Fight the good fight.