I think I have a great relationship. All things considered and compared, I know I do. But yesterday, one of my dearest friends blew the coconut milk out of my hot chocolate with one statement: “You and Mark don’t work together like a couple, because each of you makes decisions and functions for yourselves individually. I’m sure soon you’ll both decide this is the relationship you really want to be in and that will change.”
I crumbled inside. This IS where I want to be – with Mark. But this statement gave me lots of permissions to recognize some painful truths. And isn’t that how healing really starts? With that one statement that’s like a 2×4 to the face or a bucket of ice-cold water dumped right over your head that shakes you to the very bones and demands that you take notice and do something different. You can’t unhear it once it’s been said. Growth or death must occur.
I got honest with myself about what our relationship has become. I saw clearly how Mark and I are busy with our mundane, our everyday, our figuring out how to live as and be a family and how to hold our individuality, how to navigate the doctor’s appointments and pick-ups and homework and dog-walking while having time for and to ourselves. And we’ve left our relationship outside of our everyday. Assuming it will take care of itself. That’s a dangerous thing to do to a relationship.
I’m reminded of Mrs. Banker, my highschool calculus teacher writing the word ASSUME on the board and pointing out – by underlining it in chunks – that to assume to is to make an ASS out of U and ME. Mark and I are assuming our relationship is great and that it will always be. So we’ve let up working on it. Date nights are fewer and further between. Time spent talking in the warmth of open hearts, sharing our deep secrets and our new learnings, making time to simply be in the energy of who the other one is – to absorb and drink one another in – all of those have taken a backseat to who’s figuring out dinner, who’s picking up Noah, who’s organizing the guest bedroom, cleaning out the garage and taking out the recycling.
And I miss him. I see him every morning and every night and I miss him more now than ever before. Because a relationship is meant to be a work in progress. A work that is sometimes hard, sometimes painful, sometimes fulfilling, sometimes the best thing you ever could have hoped for, and sometimes the thing you want to most run away from. And I’m guilty of not working on it. Because at night I’m tired, and I want to crawl in the bed and check out with a good book or a mindless tv show. I don’t want to bring up anything uncomfortable or challenging to talk about, because I want my relationship to simply be an ok place and a safe harbor. But that’s not who I am. I am not an “ok” type of person. And I will never settle for an “ok” relationship. Never.
My choices for my short-term comfort are impacting my dream of a fulfilling, whole-hearted relationship. So this morning I chose differently and I opened my heart fully and shared with Mark that I missed him, that I loved him, and that I wanted more connection, more thoughtful time together. And you know what? He wants the same thing. So we’ll work on it. And we’ll choose to step forward together – as partners – as a couple. Honoring each other’s individuality, desires, and vulnerabilities along the way.
A loving 2×4 can help us identify our current reality, connect with our deepest desires, and then we must be brave enough to back it all up with action.
Be brave today.
Take action on your life. For your life. For you. Because you matter.