I have had love and relationships on the brain a lot lately. I’m not sure if my upcoming wedding and healthy, happy relationship has me reflecting back on different seasons of my life or if I’m just noticing more and more young gals, on tv and out and about, who are being treated poorly, disrespectfully, and/or settling. When I was in those situations it was incredibly difficult for me to see it, but now that I’m in a different place it’s so apparent and really troubles me.
Quick call out, I’m writing this from the female perspective, because I’m a chick of course, but it absolutely happens to both men and women.
No one is perfect, let’s start there, so there’s bound to be disagreements and hard times. Everyone has bad days and faces difficulty from time to time that throws them off. Love, however, doesn’t mean endlessly picking up the tiny bits and pieces of kindness that another is willing to give you. Love, in my opinion, is kind, respectful, generous, and full of compromise on both sides to reach a greater relationship good.
I am, by no means, a relationship expert. In fact, up until about two years ago I wondered if I would ever find that special someone to live out my days with. I made plenty of mistakes. I dated for many years before getting married and found myself always cutting them loose. Sometimes for lack of chemistry or difference in interests, but they were very nice men. Sometimes for more troubling issues, like not making sure I was the only one they were interested in, too much drinking or finding out they were drug users, rude comments or putting me down in social situations, and even occasionally taking advantage of me financially. My first marriage, which lasted around a decade, had plenty of good things, but slowly overtime became a cold and lonely place filled with harsh language, shaming, and eventually physical encounters.
After that, I sought therapy and learned that I didn’t feel worthy of love. I could justify, in some way or another, every bad thing that went on between us. Worse yet, I sometimes thought I deserved it. I participated in many of the bad behaviors, tit for tat, and on it went. It took me a long time to unwind myself from all of that with the help of my therapist, friends, and family.
Dating after marriage is an interesting thing, especially when you have children. I sought out men who were completely opposite from my ex-husband. Yes, there were certainly characteristics that I wanted to avoid and this accomplished it, but there were also many positive characteristics about my first husband that were very compatible with me and I was purposely going in a different direction. The result was dating incredibly kind men, but they didn’t necessarily share my interests and beliefs and sometimes the attraction just wasn’t there.
That brings me to the present. I took a chance on a guy who seemed very generous, considerate, and kind, but is also passionate about life and success, he’s driven and hardworking, and we have a lot of interests in common. We’ve had our challenges, as every relationship does, but we’re always able to talk it through and come up with a suitable solution for both of us. It’s awesome!
Now that you’re all caught up on my history, back to the point, through all of these relationships I learned so much about myself. It wasn’t until I sat with loved ones and went to therapy after my first marriage that I was able to see that I had often been accepting things that I didn’t want in the name of love. I didn’t value myself enough to realize that I should be treated differently, yet I “loved” them so much that I was willing to suck it up and push forward even when they were continually unkind to me.
Ladies, you are worth it. You do deserve it. It can be incredibly difficult to believe that when you are in the mix of a relationship that is bad for you, but it’s true. Even after I had realized I wasn’t in the healthiest situation for myself, I would make excuses. I let fear take over. The fear of leaving and being ashamed of what our friends and families would think. The fear of whether or not I could make it on my own. The fear of being alone forever. Shut that voice down! You can do it and you will be better off for it.
If you stay the resentment toward that person will eventually overcome you and you will no longer be your joyous, authentic self. That messiness will get on all of your relationships. You will pull away from family and friends, you may gain new friends that seem enticing because they are enablers to help you “escape,” you may even find yourself in a situation where you consider cheating on your partner. What’s worse is that you are staying in a space where you, and most likely he, are very unhappy and you’re missing out on time you could be loving life. Whether it’s as a single gal who’s investing time and though into yourself and future or in a new relationship with someone better suited for you. One of my oldest, best girlfriends used to tell me, “it’s like he’s stolen your soul.” I thought she was crazy, but after it was all done and I started to come out of his shadow I knew she was right! I had become a completely different person within the confines of the time period I spent with him.
Here’s what you should be getting out of your partnership:
- Someone who loves the “real” you. You don’t have to hide any part of yourself to have complete acceptance.
- A person you can talk to about ANYTHING. It may not always be easy, but there is nothing out of bounds.
- Someone who cares when you are upset, physically or emotionally hurt, or sick and wants to comfort you and take care of you.
- Name calling, put downs, and insults are not a go to. There is a respect between you that is too great to even consider these on any sort of a regular basis. (We all get angry from time to time and I know this happens to the best of us, but it’s an exception, not commonplace.)
- Being physically violent in anyway is a deal breaker.
- Someone who wants to see you succeed in whatever you’re chasing and celebrates your successes with you.
- You have similar beliefs regarding family, friends, children, religion, pets, etc.
On the flip side, you’re providing all of these back to your partner with ease! It’s a two way street. I know in my relationship now, when one of us stumbles the other picks up the slack. If he’s having a rough week, I try to be extra sensitive and loving and he gives that right back to me when the roles are reversed. Our day to day is filled with kind and loving exchanges, laughs, cuddles, and fun. Everyone deserves this!
Don’t settle. Life is short. It’s an amazing thing to have a close bond with your partner, something I always wanted, but it can also be amazing to go it on your own for a while. Do the things that you have always wanted to do, learn new things, travel, paint that wall a new color, go out, dance, spend more time with your girls or with your family, focus on your kids if you have them. Having a joyful relationship is so much simpler when both parties arrive to it already bubbling over with happiness and a full heart.
Be true to yourself. Demand to be treated the way that you treat those you care about most. You’re worth it!