Many people have called my relationship unconventional. But what is conventional anyway? Is there even such a thing anymore in this day and age? Actually, yes. People still have the idea that “normal” is two people in a long-term committed monogamous relationship, in which they are married. My relationship with my partner Reid should fit into conventional standards by that definition, but somehow it doesn’t. There are three qualities that make our relationship a little bit outside of a standard one.
One of the qualities that sets us apart from a conventional relationship is that we are mixed race/ethnicity. Reid is from fourth generation American Caucasian and I am from an East Indian background. My looks have been termed as exotic whereas Reid is normal. The second thing that puts us a little bit outside of convention is that we’re not married. Many just assume that we are married because we’ve been together for so long. After 11 years together, I’m not really sure why I would get married at this point anyway. We already live together, we share stuff, and we have a child together. Marriage wouldn’t change any of that, so it’s not something we’re considering. However, many people feel that a legitimate long-term relationship is a married one. I couldn’t believe it when someone close to me said ,”Well yeah, but you’re not married.” When talking about certain decisions I could make in regard to Reid, I automatically assumed she would see me as the natural second in making decisions, but she didn’t. So I was rudely awakened to the fact there are those who say they are “progressive in thought” but very traditional in action. The last quality that really sets us apart above all others is our age difference. Reid and I are 32 years apart in age. Many people feel that that is way too much for a relationship to work. I also thought back at the beginning of our relationship that maybe him being older would be a problem, but it turned out that it really wasn’t. After 11 years both of us have changed in different ways. It’s a matter of choosing what kind of changes you’re going to accept into your life and your attitude towards those changes.
When we first got together, Reid was going on the 1000 Day voyage and I would accompany him on that voyage. I didn’t think our relationship would last very long. Fast forward to after the voyage and we still wanted to be together. Also, we had a son and Reid wanted to be as good a father as he could be. So we ended up together again.
Age hasn’t really affected how we relate to each other. Our feelings are still the same as they were in the beginning if not deeper, more profound and connected than they’ve ever been. Age has nothing to do with how someone treats you. It has nothing to do with how you feel for one another or how you act when you’re in their company.
I know that there are challenges ahead for us and that our relationship may change because of those challenges. That’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we get there. In the end, I think I a relationship is about living joyfully with sensitivity towards the other, which fosters a sense of closeness and companionship that makes you enjoy each other’s company. If that ever starts to fade, I would have to ask myself why. What can I do to get it back or is there some area I have not been paying attention to, or some area where I felt I’ve not been heard. It takes honest communication stating exactly what you want, what you need, and what you mean because our partners are not mind readers all the time. Sometimes we just have to say what we want or we need so that they can figure out how to make it so that we’re happy. Each person in the relationship wants to make the other person happy while finding their own happiness and sometimes that means the other person’s happiness is your happiness. Other times it means you need to put your foot down and say, “no this is what I need right now” and the other person has to be open to hearing it. Those who can be open to change, to reforming their own behaviors, to seeing themselves reflected back in unpleasant ways, are the people who are going to be really successful in their relationship.
I don’t know what the future holds for us. I know that it’s going to be beautiful whatever it is. All of life is a learning experience, Some of its hard. Some of it is easy, but all of it is beautiful.