Yesterday marks Owen and my two year anniversary! Of what is hard to say. I like to think of March 19 as the day that we ruined our (former) friendship. Usually we celebrate it as the day of our first kiss. When we initially started out, both of us confirmed that we didn't necessarily think that we would stay together for longer than two weeks, but we agreed to give dating "a try."
I remember Owen setting down his guidelines, "Don't always tells me about your problems; I won't be your therapist," and me setting mine, "I don't want to see you every day, and I want to keep my friends to myself." Our rules weren't exactly nice, but they were honest.
Though our honesty started out in harsher terms, it ultimately allowed us to forgo any "I'm afraid that I like him more that he likes me" type games and cut straight to the chase. The first time that I used the "L" word with Owen, it went something like this, "In that moment, I loved you. Though, at other moments, I'm not even sure that I like you."
When we exchanged solid statements of, "I love you," we immediately defined what it meant to us. We decided that it meant commitment, though we still weren't sure how long that commitment would be. Also, we determined that it meant we were ready to be emotionally open with each other, i.e. Owen wanted to hear about every up and down of my life, and I wanted him to join in on my friendships.
At the beginning of our senior year of college I told Owen, "Our relationship is going well, if it continues to go well, then we need to have a plan that will keep us together after graduation." By confronting the post-graduation problem head on, and early, we never faced the struggles that many of our other friends faced as graduation loomed ahead. Even couples that had been together three times as long as us had trouble addressing the, "What's next?" issue.
For a few couples that we knew in college, two years marked the end of their relationships. Given this, I was a little bit worried about making the commitment to get married before we even reached the time stamp when these couples faced such turbulence.
Perhaps people start to think harder about their relationships at the two year mark because it seems like a pretty serious amount of time to spend with someone. "Speak now or forever hold your peace" feels like it occurs with a time stamp more so than with a ceremony. People don't want to realize too late that they've spent too many years in relationships that aren't actually growing, so they feel the need to break them off before they get to that point.
For some reason, Owen and I didn't struggle with fear of commitment. I think this was partly because we never played games with each other's emotions, and each of us always had a clear indication of where the other stood. When neither of us were very committed, we both knew so, and when both of us were very committed, we also knew. Now that we sit at this two year mark, I don't have to wonder if Owen is committed, I know that he is, and we can unabashedly continue to build our lives together.
Though, I know that some people just have a more difficult time expressing their feelings, even with people they love. Some couples hit that commit-or-break-up point, fail to communicate their emotions, and end up throwing away good relationships.