Think about falling in love: you know you’re special when the other person remembers your favorite song, buys your favorite flower and listens for the nuances of who you are. This is a superficial elegance that gets lost over time because it is ordinary to find differences tiresome in years 6-10.

Years 6-10 become crucial because it is an opportunity to build a more genuine infrastructure. Instead of summing the other up in tidy stereotypes, stop and consider that this is an opportunity for you to grow. Did you fall in love with someone who just loves the simple parts of life and now you find that incredibly annoying? What have you lost track of that’s important about loving the simple parts of life? Ask yourself why this annoyance develops so easily.

No one ever really talks about what’s so lovely about loving over the long haul – books, songs and movies are all about those delicious beginnings. If you do the work in years 6-10 then you will¬†really develop an understanding of how to live with and work through differences. Evolution in a relationship is based upon; the true elegance of acknowledging, accepting and respecting the differences instead of fighting.

There you go again, you really do lack empathy and that means you’ll launch your lecture of how spanking is a good thing for kids. There you go again, this is one of those narcissistic moments where you talk full of excitement and drag me along without any clue as to how I really feel. Real grown up love means deciding to live with the other person’s dark side, along with the patient acknowledgement and honest insight that yes, it can be hard to live with. We ask each other to grow and be better people and every decade we improve if we’re willing to be self-aware. We will, for the most part, still make our self-indulgent mistakes in similar ways for a lifetime. (Recently they’ve discovered lack of empathy or having empathy may be loaded in the genes.)

One of the hardest things we each have to endure in life is how to live with our own humanity. In the process of learning to live with ourselves we will find it easier to learn to live with someone else. Real elegance is earned, long after love’s first blush. Understanding your partner’s dark side and acknowledging it without critical disdain. Exchange shaming for the real respect of understanding, because they come by it honestly just like you.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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