Learning The Value Of Conflict In Relationships

Yesterday, I came across the following quote from Martha Beck:

“Conflict in close relationships is not only inevitable, it’s essential.” 

Reading this statement suddenly had me thinking about my own relationships; particularly the relationship that I have built with my fiance, AJ.

You see from the time that I was young, I always imagined that my future husband would be someone that would come and sweep me off my feet. He would love me endlessly, regardless of my flaws. With him, I would be truly complete. We would be soulmates – the perfect match.

And then I met AJ and my idea of true love changed forever.

From day one we were complete opposites. Although we shared common interests and values, our personalities were like water and vinegar. While I could sit here and list a million ways that we differed, the main point is that there were many things that caused us to challenge each other every single day.

At first, I hated this aspect of our relationship. When it comes down to it, no one wants to be called out for their bullshit. AJ was the first person that I have ever been with who was unwilling to simply accept my “flaws.” But this was NOT because he did not love me; it was because he knew that deep down, I wanted so badly to grow and be better.

Like many people, I did not want to become enslaved to my anxiety, stress or poor self-care. But – like most people – I was not doing anything to actually achieve the change… instead, I was letting my insecurities and fears fester, ultimately affecting my body and my mind. I was letting my internal conflicts run my life and keep me from being truly happy.

What AJ and I have found the last 6+ years is that true love isn’t something that just happens. Sure, you can feel that instant spark with somebody and know that they are the person for you. But to truly build a deep and meaningful relationship takes time and effort. It comes from both people learning more about who they are and what it takes to grow into the best version of themselves. A real partner is someone that helps support you in that journey. Because if you can’t learn how to love yourself, it becomes much harder to give your full love to other people.

I used to think that my soulmate was someone that would sweep me off my feet. I was looking for the love and support in my life that I was unable to give to myself. What I’ve learned is that my real soulmate wasn’t meant to hold me up but to help me learn how to stand on my own. 

I know that AJ is my true love because he has always challenged me to grow. Our relationship is not perfect but it is our differences that encourage us to communicate and adapt together. What others may see as conflicts in our relationship, we see as compliments; it is our ability to honestly challenge each other that has helped us both become better versions of ourselves. 

I am truly blessed to be able to share my life with AJ. I never imagined that I could love somebody this much. I also never imagined that I was capable of loving myself this much.

The perfect match isn’t about finding somebody else to complete you. The perfect match is about learning how to love yourself just as much as you love somebody else.

Thank you for always helping me grow, Arlan James. I cannot wait to be your wife.

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