Monday, November 28, 2011

Step 28 - Don't give up on a good Relationship


Day 28 of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) where we're taking a journey to Happiness and Contentment and today I’m going to tackle relationships with our nearest and dearest.  Difficult to sum up in one blog post I know, but I thought I should at least mention it.  

Our relationship with our significant other (if we currently have one) is one of the most important relationships we have.  If we don’t have a partner, most of us are looking for one.  That’s not to say we can’t be happy and content without one, just most of us want and need to share our lives with someone.

I was fortunate to meet my Mr right at 18 and so I suppose you could say ‘What can you tell us about relationships as you were just lucky from the start’.  Well, I do consider myself lucky, he is a good man, hardworking, supportive (usually) and would do anything for his family, but it’s not been easy.  No relationship is easy, it’s something you really have to work at all the time. 

What I can tell you is that there are many times when we could both have given up on our relationship.  Times when I’ve questioned my feelings for him (and I’m sure this works both ways) and could easily have walked away. 

I’m going to share one of our darkest moments to illustrate how things can look so bad and yet can turn around so quickly.  In the late 90’s when we only had 2 children (8 and 4), we were going through a particularly bad time in our relationship.  It was strange really, because we ‘d just gone through several years of great hardship and stress and were now just coming out the other side.  Things were looking up financially, we both had quite good jobs and could start looking forward to the future.  My husband was going through a bit of mid-life crisis (he was about 35 at the time).  I think he was starting to question what he’d done with his life and started wanting more.  We got a sporty car, which he loved (I thought it was OK, but cars don’t really do it for me) and he started taking flying lessons (which was something he'd always dreamed of doing).  I went along with it in the beginning (I'm not really sure why), but it was getting to stage where we just couldn’t afford it.  We were living in rented accommodation and going without things so that he could satisfy his boyish dreams of being a pilot.  It got to a point where I’d just had enough of going without.  He does get a bit carried away sometimes and unfortunately because it's me that handles the finances, I have to be the big bad spoil sport at times and put a stop to things. 

I confronted him and he wasn’t happy at all (he can get a bit sulky sometimes to say the least).  We had some big rows, which is unlike us because we don’t really argue much - I tend to shout and he ignores me.  Anyway, the situation was spiraling.  I started questioning if I really loved him anymore and when I thought about it I didn’t feel anything at all.  I think the lack of feeling at the time was mutual, so we decided to have a trial separation. 

It wasn’t until we were apart for a while that I realised that this wasn’t what I wanted at all.  I was desperately miserable.  I’m a comfort eater and usually when I’m down I tend to eat, but this was different.  For the first time in my life I went completely off food altogether – I couldn’t eat.  I've never felt so desperately lost and alone.  I lost a lot of weight and just felt awful.  It gave me lots of time to think though and as I thought I realised that I had been feeling nothing for years.  Not just about my husband, but about anything.  The financial difficulties we had experienced in the early 90’s had taken it’s toll and it had actually affected us both more than I had realised. 

I came to the realisation that it wasn’t all my husband’s fault, I was tending to blame him for everything.  I feel his wanting to get out and do other things was partly to escape the depressing rut we’d got into.  I had taken charge of things with the children and the house and because I was depressed and not particularly loving towards him, I think he’d felt as though I didn’t need him anymore.  The separation helped me to realise that in fact I did need him and the children needed him.  Anyway, luckily we realised that we didn’t want to split up and that we had to start pulling together and finding a way out of the rut we’d got ourselves into.  We started making plans and goals for the future together and that helped us both enormously. 

When we got back together after only 2 weeks apart, I distinctly remember wondering how my feelings towards him could change so drastically in a matter of weeks.  The loving feeling was back. It was frightening to think how easily we could have given it all away and yet all those feelings were still there, just hidden under the stresses and pressures of everyday life. 

Going through this time definitely made us stronger.  Things could so easily have been different.  If I’d continued to turn the cold shoulder we would have gone our separate ways and I would, no doubt, have gone through the difficult task of trying to find another partner who would love me and accept and love my children the way I do.  Looking at people around me in similar situations, I think I probably would be still searching for that person.  Luckily I came to my senses in time and realised that person was there all along and was my own dear husband!

It’s too easy to give up on a relationship when you hit tough times, but if you ride the storm it’s really worth it when you get to the other side.  Difficulties can push you apart, but if you try to support each other through the rough times, it brings you closer.  Every relationship goes through peaks and troughs - we still get times where we're closer than others.  We try to have maybe a day or two away on our own a year if possible to just help us get back on track. 

It's important to remember that nobody's perfect, there are always things about another person that irritates us, but you have to weigh up the good and the bad.  Let me just add though, it’s worth trying to save your relationship if your partner is a basically good person and you’ve had a strong and supportive relationship in the past.  There are of course people out there who are not worth wasting your time and energy on.  A friend of mine who has unfortunately had a string of bad relationships sent me a list she was given to remind herself not to get into another one.  Here’s a list of  Mr Wrong’s (or lets not be sexist maybe Mrs Wrongs) characteristics –
  • Shouts
  • Sulks
  • smashes things
  • glares
  • calls you names,
  • makes you feel ugly and useless
  • cuts you off from your friends
  • stops you working
  • never admits he/she is wrong
  • Turns the children against you and use them to control you,
  • Never looks after the children
  • expects sex on demand,
  • controls the money
  • threatens or wheedles to get his/her own way
  • seduces your friends
  • expects you to be responsible for his/her welfare
  • Blames you for drinking/drugs etc
If you recognise many of these, then do yourself a favour and don’t bother trying to make this relationship work, because they are never going to change and you're worth more.

Thankfully, there are plenty of Mr/Mrs Rights out there, you just have to be careful to avoid the wrong ones and learn to recognise the right ones.  Easier said than done I know and when I come up with the winning formula I'll let you know.

So, the moral here is don’t give up too easily on what was a good relationship.  We all go through rough times, but these can make our relationships stronger.  Just stick in there and it’ll be worth it in the long run.

11 comments:

  1. Great post! Me and my Hubby have been married 22 yrs and at times it has been a real struggle to stay together, in fact we separated for 12mths and like you I realised we were better together than apart.

    I really relate to what you are saying, Fab blog x

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  2. As I'm single this doesn't apply atm but as I'm doing NaComWriMoonN'sBlo and I haven't missed a day, I wanted to leave a comment anyway. (Next time I'm in a realtionship I'll use the check listh though).

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  3. Thanks The Syders - glad it made sense to you :)

    Lol MS, thanks for the comment and support - I'll have to post the check list for Mr/Mrs Right ;)

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  4. a very timely post for me as my OH and I are going through what can only be described as a rocky patch at the moment and I have been feeling much as you described. On the whole I think you are right and I hope that we can get through it. Thank you for confirming what I think we should be doing - you have given me a renewed determination to try and make it work. Now going back to reread your sage advice - it's always helpful to know that other people have managed these things and have gone on to be happy. Really really great post x

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  5. Thanks for sharing that Rollercoaster Mum - I really hope you and you're partner manage to work it out. Glad you enjoyed the post and hope it helps :) x

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  6. Great post Nikki, and a really important one when often it seems we're the only ones battling through to make things work and wondering if we're just doing it for the kids. I tend to take a philosophical approach and reckon that most people with young kids are not having it easy.... mine are 6 and 4 and we're rocky, but we'll ride the storm and some day soon they'll need less looking after and we'll get more of our lives back!

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  7. Yes I suppose many couples do go through rocky patches and it most often coincides with when the children are young. It does become easier to have more time to yourselves as a couple as they get older, but then you could go and have another set of children like we did!

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  8. I've walked in your shoes a couple of times and the path was extremely dark. My hubby and I have had lots of stressors at different points in our relationship...both before marriage and during marriage (money problems, the loss of my mom when I was 24, his parents separating for a year, and I could go on and on) that just frankly pushed us over the edge (and it doesn't help that we are both extremely stubborn). But we mutually chose to make our relationship work each time. There isn't a marriage manual (if there was, everyone would have perfect relationships), and there are lots of ways to model your relationship, but it comes down to communication and respect and honesty and appreciation for the other person. The honeymoon phase doesn't last forever and your love for your spouse will have a different "face" through the years and as you grow. I recently came across a great blog called The Dating Divas (www.thedatingdivas.com). They have tons of ideas about different date activities. Their moniker is Strengthening Marriages, One Date at a Time. Finding something to reconnect with your spouse is key, whether it be a movie night in (or out) or whatever you prefer. You both have to work at it and invest in it, or it just won't work...and you have to be honest with yourself and partner at all times. Your friend's list is fantastic. You can't change someone that doesn't want to change. Those behaviors are ingrained from a long time ago and without help and wanting to get help, won't change any time soon. Great post! Thanks!

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  9. Thanks Taylor for taking the time to comment and for the web link - I'll have to check it out. I knew relationships was a rather big one to tackle in one blog post, but I feel so sad when I see relationships break up that could possibly have been saved had they both tried a little harder. I know how easy it seems to walk away from difficult situations and having stuck it out and found the great benefits there are on the other side, I just wanted to share that in the hope that it might strike a chord with someone out there.
    Seems like you and your husband have worked through your difficulties, but you're right you have to work at it and continue working at it. Maybe I'll make relationships my theme next year for NaBloPoMo... What am I talking about? How could I even consider next year! We'll have to wait and see!

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  10. So true! Lovely to read such a beautifully honest piece. So many people put up a front and pretend that it's all OK when really it isn't. After 8 years in France we too have had some very dark days and some fantastic times too but that IS life and growing up is a continual process. Without the bad we can never appreciate the good.

    Good to hear.

    Sue x

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  11. Thanks Sue, it's a shame we have to experience the bad to appreciate the good, but that's just part of living and learning it seems. :)

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