Although every 18 year old will disagree with you, we don’t know anything at that age but sometimes it’s good to make mistakes early on.

A relationship is about helping each other grow.

I was very young when I was first married. My partner influenced me and my character drastically in all aspects of life: taste in music, political views, fashion and so much more.

Only a year after meeting him I was very different from the outspoken, liberal teenager I had been but it was not a subliminal change. I was well aware of it and thought it was what I wanted at that time because, you know, we all know everything at 18.

Lots of stuff happened, we split up.

My second husband let me be me from day one. Sometimes it was difficult as he has helped me find my way only through constructive criticism when sometimes I thought it would be easier on me if someone just told me what to do but he never did, he let me find my own way. In the beginning of our relationship I rediscovered all of the things I had given up before and embraced them, punk rock music, being outspoken and sticking to my principles, my nose piercing, etc.

I felt free and still loved at the same time, loved for just being me where before I was often criticized for being outspoken. Through this I was able to grow in the direction I wanted to, not into the direction the ‘trellis’ made me.

I still think about how different I became for that guy and am still a bit ashamed. Not because of the fact that it happened, rather that in a way, I was weak and didn’t stick to the things I believed in, but I was young and so easily influenced. In the end I learned a lot from it.

The biggest lesson I learned is that you have to accept a person for who they truly are. If anyone ever expects of you to make radical changes to your character or if you ever expect the same from someone to make the relationship work, it will cause issues down the road.

I was very lucky that I found a person that accepted me for just being me with all the flaws I have. He is the biggest self esteem booster and encouragement in my life and always tells me ‘you can do what ever you put your mind to’ when I never had that before, not as a child, nor in my first relationship. The encouragement from a partner is one of the best things anyone can have because it is the sign that they love you so much that they want you to grow and in turn you want to do the same for them.

There is no better feeling in the world.