Relationships are important in life, no matter where they are. Some are personal, some are professional, but they are all necessary. Today I want to focus more on personal relationships, particularly those of family.
I have a wonderful connection and bond with my Mother. She is someone who has supported me when I needed it, and I have supported her over the years too. We both have a similar sense of humour (definitely from her side of the family) and both are fiercely protective of our children. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, like most, but for me, Mum was my best friend for years before I could learn to trust other people again.
My stepfather and I have a common bond, and that is depression. We have both suffered from it, and understand it on a deeper level than our spouses, and while he doesn’t speak much about it, I know that he understands if I need to talk about it. He can sense when things aren’t right with me, and I appreciate that. He loves me like a daughter, and I love him like a father.
My best friend, is more like a sister to me. She has helped me through thick and thin since we first got to know each other about 4 years ago. I can honestly say I love her without flinching or getting embarrassed. I have been there for her too and while she has issues that I don’t understand, I don’t try to understand them either. I just be there for her, a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with, watch movies with, share secrets with.
My husband. Until recently, this has been a difficult relationship. All relationships with spouses can be hard, and you always compare others as having a better relationship than yours. Here’s a word of advice. Don’t.
We have had our ups and downs and until recently, we have cruised along, probably more like got stuck in the groove and just rode it out. We were both stuck in our own ways and ideas and not prepared to give up for anyone. Not even each other. Things came to a head about three or four weeks ago when we sat down and both told each other that we weren’t happy. I had even gone as far as looking at other properties that I could live in.
When we both realised that we have been feeling the same way, we were able to have open and honest communication between us. All the walls that we had built between ourselves were brought down and we listened to each other. Funny thing was, we both nodded and agreed at the same times about the same points – we felt neither listened to the other, that we weren’t being understood, or that we both thought the other was dumping on them when we had a disagreement. This was startling news to both of us. If I felt like he was dumping stuff on me, and expecting me to take it, what was I dumping on him? We both shared a lot about ourselves to each other.
The comment came up about couples that we knew that had split up. And it was something I learnt a while ago. Never judge other people’s relationships. This came about when we lived next door to the Vicar and his wife. While the Vicar is held in high esteem without our community, his relationship with his wife was completely different from what I expected. She wore the pants, not him. Another couple that we thought were extremely together and onto it, separated during this year. It surprised and shocked both of us. We thought they had the perfect relationship. But now, we both realise that there is no such thing as a perfect relationship, and it is something that constantly has to be worked on, to grow and improve.
For the first time in 9 years, I felt I was being listened to as a person. My husbands expectations of me became clearer, as my expectations dawned on him. We could see what the other wanted and didn’t want as if there were a piece of glass between us, instead of a mirror reflecting back what we wanted to see.
My husband and I both attend counselling now, and it is wonderful the journey that we are now on. While we are focusing on each other, we have also turned our attention to our children, who especially need guidance, and both of us feel able to do this now without too much complication. We also have family time, where we go out and do something as a family, as well as a date day / night once a month where we do something together, just the two of us. We also have our own separate time to ourselves, away from the other and work, so we can appreciate and fulfil our own needs as well.
So the lesson I have learnt is to be open and honest with my communication, to actively listen to my husband (try paraphrasing) and to appreciate him for who he is. Be prepared to sit down and listen to them, put aside your differences and look at the problem. I’ve stopped comparing our relationship to others, because their’s isn’t perfect, and ours never will be either, but it is the flaws that sometimes draws us together. Flaws can be strengths if your partner can help you with them.