Wednesday, July 15, 2009
"It's not you, it's me"
A woman wrote in to an advice columnist recently, complaining that her husband had pulled back from the relationhip. The columnist replied that that was perfectly possible, and that the husband might be depressed. She should discuss that with his GP. BUT, the columnist noted that it was also possible that it was the woman who had changed, not her husband. If so, she needed to find other outlets for her energy (a hobby, new friends), rather than turn to her husband to make her life be more fulfilled.
This column spoke to me, because I've been feeling like Susan has been particularly absent from our relationship recently. But I've also thought... no, maybe it's me. Maybe I've become clingy and needy. How unsexy is that?!? I've realised I was unhappy with the way things were, and that she was unwilling or unable to meet my needs. So I've been reaching out to new friends, and finding excitement in new activities. I got my cello out for the first time in years, and had an excellent match of tennis with a friend.
It's felt great! So refreshing! So fulfilling! Somehow I was waiting for Sue to meet my needs, but by going out there and looking after myself, not only were my needs met, but, even better, I felt empowered in the process! I once again felt like the captain of my fate, master of my destiny... well, a little bit, anyway! (Being in a family is surely nothing if not a tradeoff between companionship and independence.)
But then I began to wonder about the endgame. Of course, I can go my own way and feel independent, happy and fulfilled. (And a bit lonely -- but that's another story.) But just as it's possible for a couple to be too clingy and codependent, so also can couples grow apart and learn to not love each other, not need each other, not want each other.
Sue and I went through just such a stage once upon a time.
So... right. Far enough apart that we meet our own needs, but close enough together that we don't lose touch.
This life business sure is a tricky one! Why is it that they teach Calculus and French in high schools, but not how to have a successful marriage? I know which is more important to me; which I want more for my children; and which will ultimately make me a more productive, happier, and more well adjusted member of society.
Yes, I can conjugate verbs with the best of them; decline nouns in my sleep; take the second derivative of binomial equations without batting an eyelash. But finding just the right balance between independence and intimacy in my marriage? Now that takes some serious effort!