age 25. You bet your face I've placed that little nugget of knowledge straight into the memory bank to be beckoned when my own children attempt to assert their 'adulthood.' You are both welcomed and encouraged to do likewise with your spawns.
Jon and started dating (unofficially) in late November/early December 2006. We made it official in February 2007. In March, Jon moved to Arizona for an audio engineering program, where he remained through November. That August, I moved to Chicago for college. Super long distance relationship + newish relationship + both of us in new cities hanging out with people the other doesn't know + youngish couple + both in first serious relationship and new at adulting does not a happy relationship make. There were a whole lot of ups but way more downs. There were breaks along the way (does anyone else hear Ross Gellar yelling "we were on a break!" when they read about relationship breaks? No? Just me?) and at one point I think we were both pretty sure we weren't going to end up together. We managed to work through it all and decided we were worth fighting for, and in June 2010 we promised to fight for one another for the rest of our lives. It's all been rainbows and unicorns ever since.
Our first major marital fight happened as we crossed the threshold into our apartment from our honeymoon. The first year challenged us in ways I never could have dreamed of. Some pretty big issues (more here and here) have plagued us throughout our nearly 7-year marriage. As time has passed, we have either a) become so worn down by our children that we've lost all will to fight, b) grown and matured further and figured out how to fight fair, c) figured out how to communicate more effectively, d) found a place of unequivocal comfort with one another (not in a bad way!) and/or e) all of the above. We don't fight nearly as frequently as we used to, and generally speaking, when we do fight now it isn't anywhere near as explosive as it was during our relationship infancy. I'm pretty confident saying that Jon and I are comfortable, but still really happy with one another. It is far from easy--relationships take so much work, energy, and patience--but I would have said "I do" all over again if I went back in time. Jon is a partner in the truest sense--he contributes to the household equally (if not more since he's the stay at home parent) and he parents equally. When Etta is up all night, Jon is up half the night (again, sometimes more) with her. My only hesitation regarding leaving the kids with Jon so I can do something fun is that I think it's wildly unfair to him since he never really gets a break from his 'job.'
If you are single and looking for a serious relationship, my advice to you would be this:
-find someone who you know will be equally committed to helping with housework and parenting - these are huge and I am absolutely floored by the number of married women I know who are basically flying this aspect of their lives solo.
-talk about all the really big important stuff (religion, whether you want children or to get married, how you plan to raise/discipline your children, how you plan on sharing holidays between your families, etc.) and do not count on one another changing dramatically on their stance - if there are fundamental differences that you cannot work out now you will not be able to magically work it out once you get married.
-find someone who is truly in it for the long haul. Trust takes a crazy long time to develop. One of the reasons I think our fights have gotten less explosive now is I have finally reached a point where I trust Jon to not leave me at the drop of a hat (not that he ever would before, I just have a lot of trust issues so I needed to work this out on my own) so I am less inclined to push those buttons and test his limits (again, a me issue). When Jon told me he loved me for the first time and I questioned him on it, he explained love as more of an action than a feeling--when he told me he loved me he told me he was committing to loving me and only me. If you think a relationship isn't meant to be merely because you have to put some work into it, you will never find a long-term relationship.
Linking up with Annie.