by: Max White
Relationships are hard. I think everyone knows that, and entering into your first relationship is scary – especially when you’re 27 years old with only one past girlfriend that lasted no more than a couple of months.
I first met Carol on Fat Tuesday in 2019. She was working in a market at my job and I was struck the first time I saw her. I had to talk to her, to say something. We talked about paczki (the jelly-filled Polish pastries sold on Fat Tuesday) and I brought her one. It was the best I could do.
I never talked to women, never had the confidence to, but there was something about her. I talked to coworkers, my boss – I needed to get her phone number. I was ready to leave for the day, trying to come up with a plan to get her number when a friend walked in with a card. It had her number on it.
Fast forward to today and Carol is now living with me and we’re happier than ever. We’re incredibly happy and everyone knows it, but what they don’t know is the work it takes behind the scenes, as we come from very opposite sides of the relationship spectrum.
From the first text message to the first date, to even our latest argument, I’m constantly wondering what I’ll do to screw things up. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, yet any time something doesn’t go right, or we have an argument, I think, “Is this it? Is this the moment it’s over?”
It doesn’t help that I come from a family with a complicated history. My parents divorced when I was young, my biological father remarried and divorced again, and there have been several other divorces or failed relationships in my family. I constantly think I’ll be the next one.
Because of that, I work constantly to make sure I’m doing the right thing, and I’ve grown so much in my relationship with Carol. I’ve learned the importance of talking things through and being honest about your feelings. There has to be trust between you and your partner, and thankfully it’s there for Carol and me. But that’s something I didn’t know going in, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without her help.
I think back to the biggest fight Carol and I had. It culminated from a build-up of several different things on a date night that was supposed to be celebrating our year-and-a-half anniversary. She cried on the way home, and I had only seen her cry one other time – it wasn’t because of me. I've never before or since felt the fear I did during that night.
But we got back to the apartment, and after some minutes apart, we sat on the bed and talked. I told her what I thought, she told me what the issues were, and I explained how I thought I was going to lose her. It ended up being alright, and she reassured me it wasn’t over, but it was scary, nonetheless. I felt like I needed to walk on my toes for a little. The truth is, Carol would never make me do that, and it felt great to just talk things through.
That openness is something I need in a relationship. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I can’t keep anything in. Being open is being truthful with ourselves, and I think that’s pivotal to our relationship and any successful relationship. I honestly can’t tell you, though, because I’m not surrounded by a lot of them.
I’d like to say that I’ve overcome the fear of screwing something up and the relationship ending, but then I’d be lying to myself and to anyone reading this. Instead, I’ll say that I’m a lot better than I used to be, and I am working on it every day.
Max White is a journalist who works at WXYZ-TV in Detroit. He loves Detroit, sports, music, and news. When he's not walking around the city or playing golf, you can probably find him reading a book and drinking a Michigan beer. You can find him on Twitter at @MaxWhiteWXYZ. Also, Mrs. Claus once helped him when he dislocated his knee on Christmas Eve ice skating at Campus Martius.