For the sake of privacy we’ll call him Hook–because that’s one of my favorite characters on ABC’s Once Upon a Time. And while in real life, no murders have been committed, I feel like a similar amount of presumed red flags kinda go into other people’s perception of this particular relationship.
But I felt like I had to share this moment of triumph for Hook and I. We came through a hard spot, and we did it without drama or ugly scenes. That doesn’t mean we didn’t each individually feel really on edge about the issue. The issue, which I wont go into, is a super deep one that we have both been dealing with in our own ways for a few years now.
For the sake of clarity, I want to boil this down to a few lessons I want to share with my friends and family that I have learned from my time with Hook.
A. Put your relationship with the Lord first. Whatever that means to you, whether you believe in God or not, you have to be able to do you before you can be part of a “we” or an “us.” For Hook and I, that means attending to spiritual and mental needs–which are different for both of us.
I spend a lot of time serving in the LDS Washington DC temple, for example. And many of my major life decisions are made in prayer and use a lot of blind (but not un-directed) faith, and has in turn shaped a very distinct pattern of pieces that don’t necessarily immediately fit in the long term or make a lot of sense. There have been a lot of times when I’ve felt like I’ve had to choose between what would be best for my relationship with Hook versus what is best with my relationship with God–I wouldn’t say I’m 100% on making the right choices all the time, but Hook and I have never not been blessed by my choosing to honor my own relationship with God.
B. Respect the individuality of your partner. Hook and I are really different. We process things differently and we react to things in different ways. We have different tastes in pretty much everything, from movies to food to music to hobbies. We come from different cultures and even have different native languages. Between Hook and I, we have way more differences than we do similarities–but it’s one of the more attractive parts of our relationship. Hook sees things differently than I do in general, so I’ve been able to grow by listening and considering his perspective. Our relationship has become stronger by acknowledging that we are very different and resolving on my next lesson.
C. Be friends. When it comes down to it, and Hook is the worst bugger in the entire world, or I am (because it happens), and we are so angry with each other, or hurt, or being unsupportive, or just stubbornly in disagreement, we are friends. Despite where our heads are, our hearts want good things for one another. We want each other to succeed, and we want each other to be happy. Because we are friends, the small areas of commonality we do share are a lot stronger than the vast array of differences between us. It’s easier to talk things out and resolve issues because we know that no matter what the outcome, we are genuinely, or as Hook puts it, true friends.
D. Learn to communicate better. I think anyone who has had a long successful relationship would agree with me that you never stop learning to communicate better. Sometimes Hook says I talk too much. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t listen, but he’s not as much of a talker. Big communication people will tell you its a difference in behavioral tendencies. I grew up being in the front and in charge in a group of girls with a lot of personality. He’s an only child. As previously stated, we have a lot of differences–so it has been key for us to learn not just how to talk to each other, but also when to say what. We’ve also learned to really listen to each other. As my stake president puts it, “seek to understand, then be understood.” We generally try to understand where something, especially rough things, are coming from before we turn our attention to putting it behind us–which is something we grew into.
E. Keep the drama to yourselves. Hook is all about doing things for his own reasons. So am I. And if we listened to all the people who had reasons for us not to work out, we wouldn’t be where we are now. I think this lesson is the freshest for me. The moment of triumph I alluded to in the beginning of the post is really stemming from me not even giving other people the chance to hate. The rough patch that happened I kept between us, and I dealt with it spiritually. I decided on my own where my head and my heart were, and I was very aware that it was one of those times when I could think of a list of people who would disagree with my decision. In fact, it was a decision that I don’t know I would support in any other case.
But I have a long standing history of making decisions that don’t seem to make the most sense. And after discussing with Hook my thoughts and feelings, I was really glad that I made the decisions I did in handling the issue, and that I didn’t listen to what other people probably would have told me. What happens between Hook and I is between us, and other people’s interpretations of what that consists of and how it works only pale in comparison to what we know and understand about our own relationship. We know our history better than anyone else.
I learned this lesson most effectively from the example of a coworker. Usually this coworker is all about being positive and is pretty zen, but one day he was off. Not rude, not angry, but troubled and contemplative. After asking what was putting off his mood, he simply said, “I would tell you if I could, but I can’t. There are some home things going on and Pastor said when we got married to keep that between me and my wife, and that’s what I gotta do. I’m sorry and I don’t mean to offend you by not sharing, but it really should stay between me and my wife.” There was a lot of wisdom and truth that came out of his example. I never knew what the details of that experience was for him, and I don’t need to know. Just like other people don’t need to know the details of what happened with Hook and I.
I am really blessed to have Hook in my life. He’s been so supportive of me and my goals–all of them. Being a young, single adult within the LDS community, I get talked to about marriage a lot, and dating comes up all the time. My four sisters are always talking about boys and relationships, etc. Whatever opinions anyone has on the topic, I think it’s important to know and realize when you have a good thing, and Hook has been and is still a good thing. I think it’s more about the relationship and the experiences the relationship brings about than it is about finding the most qualified candidate.
Since I’ve met Hook, both of our lives have changed drastically. We have changed drastically. We are not the same Emma and Hook (get it? ha ha ha!) we were when we met, and a lot of that change has come because of our adventures together. Had I been going by a checklist of the things I wanted in a man, I would have really not considered Hook as someone I could share things with, no matter how suave and handsome he is. I mean, who really thinks that what they want is Captain Hook? The dude is a villain with a hook for a hand. (Joke. Real Hook does not have a hook for a hand.) Yet because of what we’ve been through, my heart aches at the thought of not having him be a part of my life.