After more than 12 years with my partner and three kids later, I have had the opportunity to watch our relationship evolve. In the beginning and for the first several childless years, it was all work hard, travel, sex and fun! We were perhaps unhealthily the center of one another’s universe. Fast forward to a move across the country and 3 kids within three years and here we are. I ADORE my husband, but I have had to adjust my expectations. We had somehow made the other our best friend, confidant, lover etc. etc. What I’ve realized with age and becoming parents is that we can’t possibly be all of those things to the maximum capacity any longer. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Instead of expecting my husband to be the “friend” I call to chat with about work or life or kids, I started reaching out to others. There was an adjustment period for both of us where we felt a little less connected. Perhaps too many of us think our relationships are failing if we are not getting every one of our needs met by our partner. In watching some of my single girlfriends date, I realize that ALL of us have very unreasonable and unrealistic expectations about what our significant other should be able to offer. Thing is, this is real life, it’s not fucking “Jerry Maguire”. My husband does NOT “complete me”. He makes me laugh, he lets me cry, he lets me be my whacky self, he gives me support, he parents with me, he loves me unconditionally. Honestly, that’s plenty. I think we have to be willing to create our own villages as we raise ourselves through adulthood. We have to be willing to outsource some of the meeting of our needs to others. Thereby, preserving our marriages and ultimately leading happier more fulfilling lives! End preach.
I am intrigued by what I see watching my children interact with one another, their classmates and their friends. They are 6, 5 and nearly 3yrs old. At these ages, they are COMPLETELY honest about all of their feelings and express them to one another without fear of consequence or rejection. The offending party generally looks shocked that they have upset their friend and then they chat about it or decide to part ways and play with others. If the latter was decided, within 5 minutes the friends are authentically playing together again. No grudges held, no rehashing of past events, no judgment, just truly living in and enjoying the moment.
This made me wonder at what age do we start to not express ourselves for fear of what others might think or say? At what age do we become judgmental? At what age do we begin to develop a lack of trust for past offenders and hold grudges? At what age do we lose compassion? I understand self-preservation and not allowing another human to repeatedly hurt us emotionally or physically, but it seems that in society today, the slightest indiscretion can be grounds for dismissal. What is that about?
Perhaps my lack of filtration and over sensitive, expressive nature has been passed down to my children. I love to watch them be able to share exactly what is on their minds without a second of thought to how the receiver might respond. They are open, honest and vulnerable. It’s beautiful. I don’t see them say something or do something and then wish they could take it all back. They spoke what was in their hearts or minds in that moment and they own it and the receiver hears it and then it all passes. It’s such a lovely way to interact. It’s as if they all understand that everyone is just doing the best they can do on that day. In one moment, they can have really big feelings and they may behave badly. But in the next all is back to normal, life goes on. They’re just trying to have a good time. Aren’t we all?
Cheers- to honest, open, vulnerable, non-judgmental, compassionate, fun relationships!