Do you think it’s possible to have freedom and be in a loving relationship? To have the best of both worlds?
When my marriage ended, I was heartbroken. It was very much a one-sided decision on my husband’s part – I thought we would be married forever. He had other plans. I (a little unwillingly) went through all of the stages of grief and then some – I was truly devastated to lose the love of my life and thought I would never feel whole again.
Then – one or two months after his departure – I started to feel different. I was still a sad and confused mess, but there was also a new feeling, a feeling that I was EXTREMELY unfamiliar with (I married at 22). I felt a liberating - and damn near intoxicating – sense of FREEDOM.
I didn't know that I hadn't felt such freedom before because - we generally don’t know what we don’t know. I was a wife, and I did all of the wife-type things. Perhaps unfortunately for my then-husband, those things included trying to change and control certain behaviours of his that I, in all probability, shouldn't have spent energy or time trying to change and control.
I wanted him to be how I thought he should be – how I thought husbands ‘should be’. And in return, I tried to make myself how I thought I ‘should be’. The result? Two people who loved each other but who felt completely stifled and were – in all probability – each seething with resentment.
This is not to say that I was the only one acting in this way (I'm sure he did it too), or that it was all bad. Reality is, it is EXTREMELY common for each party in a marriage/relationship to try and change the other – to have them fit into a mould that they NEVER had any hope of fitting into. Because we don’t know any other way to be.
Growing up, we (ESPECIALLY us women) witness what we believe are ‘happy marriages’ and we hold these images in our heads our whole bloody lives, until it is eventually OUR turn to be in one of these ‘happy marriages’. And we’re happy for a bit until we realise we feel stuck. And bored, and stifled and half-dead inside.
Yet we soldier on, believing that because we’re married (or in a committed relationship), that this is just the way it has to be. To try and ease our discontent, we continue to try and condition our partners into being the people we ‘need’ them to be. And we may seem to be winning for a while. They may do what we tell them to do, and be how we want them to be. But deep inside… the resentment is building – because - they are not living a life that is true and authentic to THEM.
This resentment, left unattended, keeps building and THIS is where the trouble begins - the partnership or marriage ends or continues as it is. Either way is not an ideal outcome, for either party.
It is not until we realise that we cannot change ANYBODY except ourselves that we begin to find the happiness and freedom that has so far eluded us (and our other halves). Once we give our partners a little space to live their best life, and we begin living OUR best lives, we realise that it ABSOLUTELY is possible to be in a loving and committed relationship AND have the freedom to be true to ourselves – a fundamental right for all humans on this planet.
I am not suggesting that we allow or tolerate infidelity OR any of the other obvious relationship destroyers. I AM suggesting that you allow him – and that he allows YOU – the autonomy and freedom to be who you are meant to be. To show consideration for the other and to remember why you fell in love in the first place.
My current partner is a little messy. And he collects junk - a LOT of it. AND he craves the freedom to get out of the city for a few days – regularly - to clear his head and be who he needs to be. He is a country boy who has chosen to live in the city to be with me. And I love him for this. I choose to look past his annoying quirks because he is the sweetest and most decent man I have EVER had the good fortune to come across.
Here’s what I do to help keep things strong - and maintain some freedom in the relationship:
The sweet irony to all of this? Once we are living OUR best life - a life that is authentic to US and in which we are free to pursue our own needs and/or creative desires – we naturally become more desirable to be around. What an empowering and beautiful way for ALL of us to live our lives.
Can you think of anything else we could do to maintain freedom whilst in a relationship? I’d LOVE to hear it!
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