A few days ago, The Girlfriend and I celebrated our eighteenth mensiversary (month-anniversary). We’ve survived 18 months together! Yay!
18 months is quite a significant period of time!
Many people don’t know this, but it’s usually the eighteenth month (well, plus or minus two months) where people in a relationship suddenly begin to question and doubt their love for the other (for no real reason), or feel that they want their own space. I don’t remember where I read this (for the life of me, I’ve been trying to recall that exact article, but I can’t), but the reason why many people start feeling that way during the 18th month is because the body gets too used to the intensity of the hormones from being in love such that one feels as if there’s a huge drop in one’s love for the other.
This sudden feeling of not-feeling-in-love is a very strong experience and it does cause a lot of instability in people who are trying to make sense of this change of feeling. Unfortunately, some interpret this as a need for more personal space or to be alone, while others interpret this as a sign that they don’t actually love the person they are with or as a sign that the love has ceased to exist.
I didn’t think much of this when I first read it. I was rather skeptical about it actually. But over the months and years, I’ve come to see just how true this 18-month problem is! I went to ask the people in my social circle who had just gone through a break-up (about 8 pairs of ex-couples), and lo and behold, they’ve been together for… EIGHTEEN MONTHS! And the reason for wanting a break-up? The reasons I mentioned above!
Gosh! It’s so sad that few know about this 18 month problem. I think if they realised that what they were subjectively feeling was actually the result of a chemical change in the body, they wouldn’t have initiated a break-up. Well, maybe. I don’t know.
For those of you reading this who survived 18 months in a relationship, congratulations! You’ve survived the first (yes, the first) emotionally de-stablising chemical change in your body. Apparently, this dip in one’s hormones and subjective feelings of love will continue every 18 months or so (plus or minus two months) until you come to a point where you kinda don’t feel much.
Personally, I think this is why love has to be more than just mere feelings. I wouldn’t swing to the other extreme and say that it’s merely the act of the will to commit. The commitment of love is important, but feelings too are an important aspect to love, but it’s not the one and only aspect. Feelings are necessary but not sufficient for love. That’s why it’s important not to take those feelings for granted as being always there; that’s why it’s important to always do something romantic frequently even if it’s just a small gesture of love. But since a lasting relationship requires more than just mere feelings, more needs to be done to build a firm foundation for the relationship. I’m no expert, but what seems reasonable to me is that the relationship should be built upon a close friendship comprising of shared experiences and memories – not just happy memories, but also meaningful memories – along with shared dreams, goals, and visions, with tangible symbols and gifts as useful reminders and representations of these meaningful things.
That way, when one’s bodily chemistry changes, there will still be a strong bond. It would be a love that has matured into a very special, unique and intimate friendship like no other. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still a romantic relationship, but it’s a relationship that goes beyond mere romance.
Anyway, I realised I digressed greatly from what I wanted to say… So back to the topic… So how did The Girlfriend and I celebrate our 18 months together?
Well, we made a late breakfast together. We had toasted raisin bread…
Along with scrambled eggs, grilled tomato, and sauteed mushrooms and onions!
We then went out for a stroll and came back in the evening to do something rather unusual on our special day together.
What did we do?
Haha… You don’t usually expect to see a rose and a tool box, yeah? Well, we went back to work on the automatic dog-feeder. Not very romantic as The Girlfriend had some errands to run (which made it almost impossible to have a romantic night out). But hey, this has been a project that we’ve been trying to work on since we started out together, it’s nice that we’re finally doing something about it at last!
I think there’s something very special going on every time we work on things together. Whether we’re cooking, cleaning the house, or making stuff, when we do things together, it’s like some team-building and couple-bonding exercise. It’s a big thing for me because for the past 20+ years of my life, I’ve always been doing a lot of things on my own. It’s a new experience, and we learn a lot about each other (and ourselves too) through these activities.
Love. A process of discovery.
And even after being 18 months in a relationship, there’s still so much more yet to be discovered about each other.