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 –
- smashes things
- 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.
Here are the other posts in this series:
Step 30 - The Key to Happiness and Contentment
Step 29 -You are the master of your own destiny
Step 28 - Don't give up on a good relationship
Step 27 - Don't Judge , Live and let live
Step 26 - Don't Worry, by happy
Step 25 - Never give up
Step 24 - Get by with a little help from your friends
Step 23 - Go with the Flow
Step 22 - Enjoy the moment
Step 21 - Love what you do
Step 20 - Forgive and Forget
Step 19 - Unconditional giving
Step 18 - Smile and the world smiles with you
Step 17 - Work to live, don't live to work
Step 16 - Surround yourself with Positive People
Step 15 - Always look on the bright side of life
Step 14 - Where there's a will there's a way
Step 13 - Silence is Golden
Step 12 - Feed your Soul
Step 11 - Follow your Dreams
Step 10 - Use your time wisely
Step 9 - Don't be too hard on yourself
Step 8 - Consider what you value most
Step 7 - Find time for Yourself
Step 6 - Make time for Family and Friends
Step 5 - Don't take yourself too Seriously
Step 4 - Feel the Fear and do it Anyway
Step 3 - Love what you Hate
Step 2 - There's no such word as CAN''T
Step 1 - Find the Best in Every Day