Carly Sletten
June 25, 2016 10:00 am
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Time sure does sneak up on a person. One day you’re going on with your life and then BOOM, five years have gone by! I find this to be especially true with relationships. You’re just going along being in love and stuff, and then the next thing you know you’ve been with your partner for years.

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost seven years. How close seven is to a decade is enough to make me feel older than my 28 years, but I digress. Through the past years we’ve been through a lot together. Three college graduations, three apartments, and one dog later, we are still going strong.

We recently took a short repeat vacation. I say repeat because we went to the same city, for the same number of days, during the same month, for a concert like the time before, and we stayed at the same hotel. Almost every component of our trip was the same as the first time we went four years ago. We laughed and made fun of ourselves plenty. “We’re like an old married couple,” he said. “Going back to walk down memory lane! Nothing new here, folks! Just a couple of old timers getting all sentimental.”

However, once the trip was over and we were driving back home, I couldn’t help but think about the past few days and how they compared to four years ago. While the trip was essentially the same, we were definitely not.

It’s easy to see when I compare the two trips how much both of us have changed and grown, not only individually, but as a couple as well. It’s hard to explain with words, but this trip felt familiar and new all at the same time. We are the variable. We are what’s different.

For example, we understand each other better. Our likes and dislikes, our tendencies, our moods. We know each other better now than we ever have, and it shows. Whereas a few years ago we were still in that honeymoon phase, that love has leveled out and matured. We find comfort in each other’s company even if that company is silence. And honestly, that made this trip better than the last one.

There’s a feeling now of comfort. I can be 100% myself without even having to think about it. I’m natural, relaxed, at ease. I trust him more than I ever have. I remember years ago having this feeling that I couldn’t believe he had been my boyfriend for three years already. Like I couldn’t believe how happy I was feeling. There’s a kind of solidness to us now. We really are a team. A unit. We operate together. Seven years of fighting the good fight does that to people.

But we also are different individually. The crazy boy of a few years who would have stayed up all night drinking up the energy of the city is replaced with a solid, dependable man, who works hard to help take care of us. He can’t stay up as late as he used to, but is still just as much fun as ever.

For me, the shy, quiet girl is now a stronger, more confident woman, who feels safe, confident, and comfortable enough to say, “Nah babe, I don’t want to do that at all, why don’t you go while I take a quick nap.” That’s growth for me, and I’m proud of it.

It’s not a secret. Relationships are hard and they take a lot of work. Sometimes you make it, sometimes you don’t. The duration of our relationship has been full of ups and downs, but we’ve survived it all together and for some crazy reason, we still work.

I realized as I reflected on both trips that if we were still able to enjoy each other’s company and have fun together, even doing something we had done before, that means something special. Going home didn’t feel as sad as the last time, and I think that’s because we both felt as though we weren’t losing anything by going home. We were returning to a happy life that we have worked so hard to build together.

I also have to marvel, as I look at the man next to me, that I still feel madly in love, and that I wouldn’t want to share this experience with anyone else. We are older and wiser, and we’re still making the daily choice to be with each other. I realized our strength as a couple, how much we can make it through. Taking a break from the everyday normal was enough to make me realize how much my relationship means to me, and how much I am looking forward to our next adventure. Together.

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