Drop the Should

I’m just going to come out and say it: We’re struggling.

I figure this is what all couples go through when they are transitioning their lives into cohabitation, starting new jobs (him), changing schedules (both of us), and having more than one job to juggle (both of us). This does not mean the end is near. It does not mean we’re not a good couple. It just means that. . . we’re human.


Because for a girl who often constantly puts such rigid and high standards upon herself that only a super-human could achieve them, this has been and persists in being, an on-going exercise in adapting.

Last night at therapy I spent the majority of it cataloging the ways in which I am “wrong” and “unworthy” and how I will, let’s face it, inevitably fuck this great thing up. Because that’s what my old story tells me. Because that’s the line I’ve been feeding myself for ages. That old stuff is a lot of BS wrapped in old hurt. The take-away message from therapy was “stop should-ing all over myself”. As Mr. Darcy is often reminding me, life is messy and the best laid plans will probably get fucked up so we have got to learn to roll with it.

I’m just so used to beating myself up. Lately it’s as though I am under a microscope. Every fault I have is on display and there is no hiding. I feel vulnerable and embarrassed. I am like a blemish-covered face without any cover up. Eeek! Who wants to see that? Except, Mr. Darcy does want to see it. Because that’s why he is my Mr. Darcy. He likes me just as I am.

I guess I’m still trying to swallow that truth. I falter not because I question his sincerity (never) but because I question my worth. During these tumultuous times, it’s hard for me to remember that I’ve made a lot of progress. It’s hard for me to believe I deserve this and him.

Love is messy and complicated. Sometimes we inadvertently hurt each other. Sometimes we are both so stressed out we aren’t able to be supportive of the other person. Sometimes we misunderstand each other. Sometimes we laugh like crazy. Sometimes we have an idyllic day. Sometimes we argue. But I’m trying. And he is trying. We’re stumbling around trying to figure things out. Sometimes we bump into each other, head first, and it hurts like hell. Sometimes we find the other person’s hand in the dark and fumble along together.

Because we’re in this together. This is not a fluke- it’s the real deal. We want it to work. And it will only work if we work at it.


48 thoughts on “Drop the Should

  1. As long as you’re willing to work through it and not throw in the towel, then, yes, it is a perfectly normal part of a healthy relationship. And don’t ever expect plans to go as, er, planned. Like Mr. Darcy said, they rarely do.

  2. WORD. Very well put. (Time for the sports analogy). You are a team. Sometimes you will both have a great game and sometimes you will both suck. There are the times where one of you is stellar and the other is stumbling. When one is stumbling the other will help the stumbler out. AS the WOnderpets say “What kind of work? Teamwork!”.
    Keep on keeping on. You are on the right path. Thanks for sharing as always.

  3. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but I rarely question or think about my own worth. I focus on how fortunate I am to be with my wife, and being a good husband and father, and I don’t worry about being deserving of my family’s love.

    Don’t worry about your so-called faults and think about the good stuff. You’re human. You have faults. You will always have faults. Mr. Darcy is with you, faults and all.

    I like the Wonderpets quote, ostrich!

  4. You will get through it. You have the right attitude and with so much stress and upheaval in both of your lives it can’t help but spill over and affect your relationship. But it will get better, really, because you both care and you’ll make it work. Good luck!

  5. The key is being able and committed to working through it. When you get two grown people sharing space and time and emootions, its bound to hit a rough patch…and others along the way.

    Just roll with it. You’ll be fine…

  6. It really makes me sad that a wonderful, big-hearted woman like you feels so inadequate of deserving someone else’s love. That is just wrong, because you’re totally worth it, Sizz. Just believe a little harder in what Mr. Darcy is telling you 😉

  7. Anyone who doesn’t think that a relationship is work isn’t in it for the long haul. Like everything else, if you look for the quick fix it’s not going to create the firm foundation that you can build on.
    I told J the other night that life would be a lot easier without him…and it’s totally true! There wouldn’t be the same types of worries, the same stressors, the same irritants. But you give up the laughs, the companionship and the intimacy.
    That somehow makes it worth the ride. *Hug*

  8. I totally relate to and understand the not worth it part. It isn’t true of course, but I feel it too and have a hard time sometimes because of it. I never quite feel like anything I do or am is “enough”.

    The truth of it is that a relationship takes hard work and when people get careless or take it for granted, that is when the irrepairable damage is done. Luckily, you both are willing to work at this and do your best to treat each other well. I have faith in you guys, and I KNOW you deserve and good or any happiness you get.

  9. When Sweets and I were first dating, I established the four seasons rule before we could get engaged… because over the course of a year, you’re bound to see each other at your best and at your worst … and it’s important to work through those times before committing to something bigger. Job changes. Juggling busy schedules. Adjusting to new living situations. Those are all major changes. You’re bound to have a few lows in there. The idea is not that you’re supposed to be perfect all the time, but rather that you work through the difficult stuff together and come out the other end still holding hands.

  10. I have a friend that has a ranch, a working cattle ranch. I drive out there sometimes and work for a day or two, and while there is always a plan, things hardly ever go like the plan says. The first time I went out to work, my friend said remember this “The first casualty is always the plan, but we’ll get the work done anyway.” He is, of course, right, and ever since I learned that, I use it everywhere in my life. The plan is a nice thing, a necessary thing, but in many ways it is also crap, and yet we get the work done (get what we want out of the situation) anyway. I think a mature, loving relationship works the same way.

  11. I don’t know anyone who has moved in with their partner, who hasn’t gone through at least a few months of the struggle. Sometimes accompanied by, “what the hell have I done?!” and occasionally some, “I don’t even like him/her this month!”

    The good news? It’s just a transition. You’ll get there, and you DO deserve all of this.

  12. Give yourself a break…He loves you and doesn’t expect you to be perfect or want you to be perfect. He just wants you to be YOU.

  13. You DO deserve this, and I love that you’re working through everything. I’ve seen you two together and know that it’s the Real Deal. Hang in there, sweetie. 🙂

  14. Own your mistakes, own your flaws, and own your fears. Be willing to be the first person to put them on the table for the whole world to see, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they lose power over you.

    Because really? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Whatever that is, is it any worse than constantly _fearing_ that it will happen?

  15. You, Sizz, are so brave. You take risks. You fight for love. You believe in happy endings. Just be brave a little longer. Dare to imagine a world where you know you are worthy; a world where you don’t question WHY someone so wonderful wants to be with you. It’s there. It’s waiting for you. And you will get there. I know it’s hard and I know it’s a struggle. I can’t wait to see you overcome this, lady. Sending you all the brave thoughts I have. ❤

  16. Thanks for sharing this. I feel like people are embarrassed to admit that even “true love” is hard sometimes because it’s supposed to be all perfect and soul-mate-y, but it truly is. No matter how much you love someone, sometimes they hurt you, or bug you or make you doubt them or yourself. But I think it’s pretty great when you can see that objectively and know that you still want to work at it despite the dips and imperfections!:) Loves to you!

  17. Mr. Darcy is right. And he does love you for you. Besides, none of us is perfect, and the partner who we spend the rest of our lives with will love you for all of you, not just the perfect bits. And besides all of that stuff – seriously – live is no fun being perfect all the time. I’ve tried to imagine what it would look like if everyone did and said the perfect thing and everything had order, and oh my god. No one would have quirks or personal beauty or uniqueness.

    I was driving BF to the airport on Friday and he said, “Sure, there are things about you that aren’t ideal, but that’s part of the package, and I want all of you.” And he loves me for all of me, not just the goods. That is pretty cool. We have been waiting our whole lives for this, yes? 🙂

    You are so self-aware that there is no way you will fuck this up. No way. I’m so happy for you, Sizz. You have a fantastic man and you’re IN LOVE!

  18. It always amazes me that my husband puts up with all of me – the good, the bad, the ugly – trust me, there’s a lot of ugly with my moods and overachiever/perfectionist ways, etc. – but he does. He does for the same reasons that I accept him for being “him”. I think marriage and relationships are one big teeter totter. Tons of ups and downs and things are rarely balanced evenly. It’s the occasions when everything gels that remind you why you put in the effort and time to make it work. Something that good is worth it for sure.

  19. Just keep trying, sister. That’s all you have to do. I think all this is totally normal – growing pains, right? I’ve never known anyone who had a huge life transition go 100% smoothly. And is has to be about ten times harder for us perfectionists.

    I sometimes feel like if I let Mr. W love the ugly, blemishy me, it’ll make me so vulnerable I’ll crack. Because then what if after he accepts me like that (which I guess he already has) he changes his mind? Love is scary, dude.

  20. Love can be a challenge, a struggle even, but it’s a challenge that’s so worth the effort. Also so worth the effort: you.

    Wishing you the best, always…

  21. Oh GIRL. The move-in process was SO HARD for us. I bawled daily for about six months straight, before/during/after. It was brutal. Just keep your eye on the prize: you are building a life with someone you love, and who loves you. Building something always has its foibles. That doesn’t mean that it is destined to fail – and discovering the little flaws as you create often makes the end result stronger.

  22. AK and I struggled big time when we first moved in together (and we’d already been together a year and a half). The main thing I learned (thank you, therapy) was that we have really different ways of coping with stress. This summer has been stressful in some ways too, but it hasn’t felt like such a crisis because I can say, “Yep, there goes AK worrying about her friendships because she’s stressed out, and here I am, wanting to scrub the kitchen with a toothbrush. Maybe we can invite some friends over and all scrub the kitchen together.” Hang in there. It feels dark, but y’all will be fine.

  23. Hang in there! That transition is so hard! Trying to find a balance between butting heads and finding each other in the dark is, I think, the main ‘work’ involved in relationships. My husband and I still play with the balance, and we’ve been together for almost 10 years. Trudge on!

  24. Cohabitation is HARD. Especially after so many years of flying solo on the home-front, not having to compromise or adjust to another person (no matter how lovable) occupying your once-private space.

    All of that to say: You are doing GREAT. Things will get easier, but just as you know, and as has been mentioned before, even the best and truest of loves require a certain amount of maintenance, and hard work, and they take arguments, too. Disagreements help us grow and adapt, and learn about one another.

    Here’s to the sweet moments being even sweeter for the bumps you weather together along the way.

  25. I think this is all really normal. Not at all pleasant, but normal. I’m sorry that it’s hard and I hope you guys can drop the shoulds 🙂 Hold on tight when you find each other’s hands in the dark. xo

  26. i think that is what everyone goes through at some point especially with so much change going on. and as long as you are both working on it together it will all work out in the end! lots of hugs and good vibes your way.

  27. Being in love doesn’t mean the rest of your life together is a piece of cake. Life still happens, good, bad, easy, difficult, etc. The best thing is you get to go through it TOGETHER. Which is a million times better than doing it all alone, without him standing by your side.

    You worry too much. Focus on what’s good.

    I like Emerald City Weddings. Good luck with your business!

  28. Yes — EVERYONE has their struggles. Moving in together requires a crazy tango of getting used to each other’s tiny daily quirks that you don’t notice even if you’re shacking together on a regular basis. Crazy work schedules will make everyone a little crazier.

    The two of you are meant to be, despite your struggles. It’s clear from every last thing that you say about Mr. Darcy. Don’t let your brain try to convince you otherwise.

  29. Speaking as someone who has been married almost a decade and with her spouse for 12 years total I can agree with all your posters here, living together is HARD! being married is HARD but if you WANT to make it work you can. You can’t be afraid and it’s nothing like the stupid movies that is for sure!
    My biggest flaw IMO is my reluctance to talk about things, hubs has really helped me learn it’s OK to tell him when he’s being a dick and I just can’t take it anymore. Truth is there will be things that will make you want to pull your hair out and you just have to get it out, holding it in is NOT GOOD, that I know. I’ve also learned when to let things go, sometimes it’s just not worth it and that was a hard one for the Aries in me!
    Sounds like you two are on the right track and I’m very happy for you.

  30. I completely understand everything you’re feeling EXCEPT for your lack of self-worth. I just don’t get it! You are an amazing woman — we can all see it. I am going to write a blog post just for you. It might take me a few weeks, but I want to share some of the wisdom I learned at that yoga workshop I went to.

  31. A favorite of mine that seems appropriate for you today:

    From “Gift From The Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

    When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

    The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

  32. I’m not reading all of the comments…so many people have probably said the same thing. Everyone goes through this, it is hard having someone move in, it is hard moving in. Your space is invaded, he is invading. And no one can be on all of the time. This is normal. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself the same consideration you give Mr. Darcy.

  33. I read this earlier today and since I don’t know my password by heart and was in the office, I couldn’t comment. What you write is what has always scared me about cohabiting. I’ve never done it and I sure don’t know how it will turn out for me when I do. But you guys are doing it and with all the ups and downs it’s working, because you love each other, and at the end of the day that is what counts. The balance is positive, that’s what the bottom line is. You’re doing it Sizz and it will work out.

  34. My husband and I are not an argumentative couple. We get on far too well 😉 But when we first moved in together even we bickered – a lot. It calmed down after a couple of months. It’s just about learning to live with someone else in your space – it takes some getting used to. You’ll get into a routine soon and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about 😉

  35. So, I heard this quote in a movie or I read it in a book or I’ve combined a few different quotes to create this exact one( I just can’t remember–although I wish I could because proper credit is due):
    “The difference between love that lasts forever and love that lasts a season is the weight that is carried. In true love when one person is ready to give up, the other person will stand up and fight fight fight to make this something wonderful work.”
    And it’s so true. Nine point five years with my Rock Star and we’ve hit a few rough patches, but we’ve passed them all because neither of us given up at the same time.
    Good luck.

  36. Wm and I went through plenty of that when we moved in together. Don’t worry, this too shall pass. As long as you can work on it, you’re doing JUST FINE. I promise.

  37. People fight more in their first year of marriage than at almost any other time, for the sheer reason of, people are different. We were raised differently. We have different expectations. Some of us don’t share well. Some of us snore. Some of us throw our towels on the floor. Some of us didn;t realize what a temper we had…. and some of us didn;t realize how high a level of expectation that we had, for someone to meet.

    I can;t really address the control issues you have, to the point of not wanting to be seen without cover-up on your face… but I can assure you, that Mr Darcy would not care no matter what he saw, because he is bent on accepting you as you are. He accepts you, as you come. It may be you, who feels she has to keep “impressing”, or be willing to not yell about towels on the floor. All I can tell you is, it is perfectly natural that one of you DOES so. It’s ok, and you’ll work it out. 🙂 Give it time, to settle in to a new normal. A NICE new normal.

  38. OK, so as soon as I read that Mr Darcy was moving in I thought of a book that made a huge difference my love relationship with my Husband. I don’t read very many self-help type books but this one? I use what I learned in my life every single day. And we’ve just come off the most seriously challenging period of our 15 year marriage. Still very difficult times ahead, but I feel better equipped to deal with them
    “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts” by Gary Chapman
    I started this book thinking Hubby’s language was all 5, and I didn’t have one. Ended the book knowing more about myself and my husband, and like I said, I put things from this book into practice all the time.
    Just my two cents, because I really think you and Mr Darcy are so stinking cute and happy and sweet and it makes my heart glad.

  39. As long as you two are in this together – and it looks like you are – you CAN work through most anything. There are good days, bad days, boring days, awesome days, etc. Plans don’t always go as expected, just a fact of life, but you CAN do this!

  40. im tempted to send you a post i have saved in my drafts that is basically THIS EXACT POST RIGHT HERE. damn straight cohabitation is a transition. i was used to living with women for many years. the whole mars/venus thing takes some getting used to. it still does. you hit the nail on the head when you said it will only work when you work on it. AND, that you both WANT it to work is so, so paramount. kudos to you for working through the messy stuff.

  41. I love the way you put this whole “should” thing into perspective. People think things should naturally fall into place and that things will just happen. But, for those in relationships where they make it, it’s not through fate or otherwise. It’s through a lot of tears, laughters, understanding, and hard work. As is with all things in life, you have to work for things you want.

  42. Echoing what many have said here. Yes, this is normal.

    We are fed this idea that true love is perfect, and moonlight and roses all the time. It’s not like that, it has highs and lows and in-betweens. (Sometimes in the same day.)

    FWIW, accept that he loves you, don’t talk him or yourself out of it. You both deserve this and deserve each other. (And just accept his love… don’t take it apart, it won’t work. It just is.)

    “Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen, Anthem.

  43. Just remember something I have learned about relationships. The person you care deeply about can make you feel happiest and can piss you off like no other person. They can do it intentionally during a fight or because you care so much about who/what/how they are/think/do that you can get quite peeved at them. Remember this sometimes and just sit back and breathe a bit, when I remember to do this it helps Col and me.


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