I would describe my first long-term relationship as a mixture of these adjectives: wonderful, powerful, dysfunctional and volatile.
I'm content with how things have turned out in my life but I often wonder how things would've turned out if I knew the following:
1. Just because someone loves you doesn't mean they belong to you.
Your partner was alive before you met him. It doesn't diminish your love to remember and acknowledge that the two of you have separate lives and different accomplishments. Being in love with someone doesn't mean having to spend every single minute with your partner; it means making the most of the time you want to spend together.
2. You can't force your partner to change
Your partner is either who you want him to be, or he isn't. We often lie about who people are or what they tell us because we see what we want the situation to look like, not how it really is. The truth will eventually come out, whether it's on the first date or on your tenth anniversary.
3. Only you can complete yourself.
We're often told that two halves equal a whole. Mathematically that's correct, but in a relationship this rule doesn't apply. Depending on someone else to complete you sets your relationship up for failure because you expect another, imperfect person to make up for your imperfections. Of course, love that's healthy will help you improve yourself; however, there's no need to burden your love with expectations that probably won't be met.
4. Your friends and family remember what you've told them about your relationship.
If you're constantly complaining about your partner to your friends and family, don't be surprised when they aren't rooting for your relationship. They probably want the best for you, and if they only hear what's going wrong, don't be upset with them when they don't support what you've described to them as problematic.
5. "We" and "us" aren't only used for the good times.
We have a tendency to be welcoming to our partners when things are going well in a relationship, but when things aren't going well, we seclude ourselves. Relationships will go through tough times; it's how you deal with them that makes a difference in the overall outcome. Division between the two of you won't provide clarity — communication will. Communication only happens when you are willing to involve your partner in a dialogue of what has happened. You will only be able to work through difficulty by facing obstacles together.