Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Real Relationships


In response to my last post, Girl Talk, in which I asked how you feel about trying to change your mate, my good friend, NB, responded:


"God and "L" (her husband) told me it's my job. He never gets anything done unless I put on the _itch attitude. But I have retired from that job. Somehow it takes my joy away from the day."

I understand what she meant. Part of our job, in a relationship, is to be a helpmate. I guess the question then arises, how do we bring about the best in each other and not the worst?

On the surface, it seems such a simple question. Since all we are doing is trying to bring out our partner's best attributes, they should be grateful, right? What if our well intentioned attempts backfire? What if our joy is diminished at always having to take on the role the fire starter? Do you feel frustrated by always having to be the enforcer? Or the wage earner. Or the bill payer. Or the laundry picker-upper.

And if you are the partner that is always expected to change, how do you feel? Do you feel that your partner is bringing out the best in you? Do you like the constant reminders or do you resent them?

When we focus so much on changing what is wrong with the other person, is it our way of avoiding working on our selves? I don't have the answers here, folks. This is the Wonderland. I only wonder about the answers to more questions. That's why I'm asking for your opinions.

Since NB has officially retired from husband directing, I wonder, if and, how he gets to those things that need to be done left on his own? For myself, I know it is easier to see the Wonder Husband's faults than my own.
I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm perfect and don't need to change a thing. Maybe I should ask him. But, I'm not sure I want to hear the answer.

28 comments:

Elisabeth said...

I've heard it said by relationship counselors that the thing that a person likes best in their partner before marriage and a lifetime together can quickly become the thing they most hate.

This was the case with my own parents. As far as I know my father loved my mother's gregarious and talkative nature but by the time they'd been together for a number of years and a number of children later, he hated my mother's now 'garrulous' nature and said as much often. He wished she would 'shut up'.

Sad isn't it?

NanU said...

My companion used to say he wanted to change. He wanted help. He wanted reminders and corrections, he appreciated my pointing things out. He liked being taken charge of, and the order brought to his life. He wanted a helpmate in lifting him out of his chaos.

Of course, that was all nonsense. He wanted nothing of the sort.
And I didn't like it much either, when it was always the same old thing. If there was something to decide, it would sit there on the table until I decided; he would resent my bossyness, I would resent having to do all the work.

People have to compromise on changing and wanting to change, and meet where they can both be happy. And they need to realise that the meeting-point moves.

Eternally Distracted said...

A very wise person once told me that the things you dislike most about other people are the things you dislike most about yourself... scary thought!!

Dave King said...

What is wrong with the other person is often an echo back from what is wrong with ourself.

Stacy Post said...

Relationships are hard work. Nothing worth having comes easily. I know that's a bit of a cliche...but it's what helps me through the rough spots. I'm not the spouse I was at the beginning, nor will I be the same person when it's all said and done. That he's stuck with me through the changes and I've stuck with him...means we've grown together. Does it mean either of us are perfect? Of course not! Perfect would be boring,though, wouldn't it?

TechnoBabe said...

For me, I feel like I am not my hubby's babysitter or mother. I am his friend and lover. He can be messy and I have learned to live differently to accommodate that. I don't have to be OCD about things left out. If he can't find something because he left it somewhere it isn't my issue. If he asks me to help him find something I have a choice to help or not. If his having to look for something can't change his way, then all my nagging wouldn't change it either. So I take care of myself and mind my own business. I do not want or need my hubby informing me of what I need to work on. That is not to say that when we are having an honest discussion we don't share our likes and dislikes. But it doesn't do either of us any good to grind down the yukky stuff and try to change each other. Good post and one that we could really get into great discussions. Good job, Ronda.

Nessa said...

There could be trade offs. For instance, I make my husband's lunch box every day. I f I didn't he wouldn't eat until dinner time. But he cooks dinner every night.

Christina said...

Ooooh, I get it it's WONDERland! Never looked at it that way.

Ask the husband about your snoring. That's a real wake up call, literally and figuratively.


Maybe it's not so much about bringing out the best in your mate but each of you picking the right golf club...?
OMG, I'm so kidding! :-o
Sorry...

Ronda Laveen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baino said...

Oops comment got eaten. I don't have a partner ..I'd love a good nag but I have to put up with my own faults. Yeh I know hard to believe but I do have a few.

Dorraine said...

Let's just admit it-relationships can be tough. Especially after years and years of dancing around the same fire. You have to toast a few marshmallows occasionally. Keep it hot, hot, hot!

Ronda Laveen said...

OMG! Somehow my comment to everyone got posted twice and then when I deleted it, it deleted both of them. And now I don't have time to go back and redo.

Ackk! Blogger, you're a booger. I should have left well enough alone.

Well, let's see. You are all amazingly insightful and I always learn so much. Yes, this blog is called the Wonderland because I am just that kind of girl. Always wondering and learning.

And you all are some of my best teachers. Thank you all for your contributions here. By sharing, we become stronger, enlightened and lighter beings.

So maybe we can spend some time looking in our relationship mirrors and kick up our game a notch. And as Dorraine, said...keep it hot, hot, hot.

Ronda Laveen said...

This is a comment one of my friends e-mailed me after reading my post. It so belongs with all of your WONDERful words of wisdom.

My small words of wisdom (??): The things we want to change in our mate are usually the things that really don't matter.Who cares if they have messy underwear & sock drawers? who cares if he never "sees" the mud he tracked in.
As a wise person once told me, 99 percent of the things we worry about never come to fruition. I believe it is that other 1percent that we should be concentrating on and perhaps changing. And, in my humble opinion, it is usually something that I should change about myself.
Enjoying this one. The comments are great!!!

Jeanne

mouse (aka kimy) said...

enjoyed this thought provoking post and the comments.... must say i have seen evidence of the 'truth' in what elisabeth said about counselors.

have to add that as people age they only become MORE of what they are.

change....we can never change someone else... each of us is the captain of our own change.

and yes relationships are work, but life is work and i feel that for relationships to really work there must be a heavy dose of mutual play!!

Leah said...

These last two posts, and ALL the comments are so wonderful!

I have loved reading.

When Sarge and I are at our best as a couple, we're able to work together on the things that need changing...but that is truly something we aspire to and only sometimes achieve. I believe that for myself, when I'm feeling especially critical of him, it's as you hinted at--it's me actually avoiding my own self-esteem issues and anxieties about myself.

Ronda Laveen said...

Mouse: Yes, as we age, we do become more of what we really are and I love the idea of balancing the work with mutual play.

Leah: I think that most of us are like you and Sarge in that we only achieve the pinnacle of our work together as a couple on occasion. But that's what keeps us coming back, right? Those little moments of success.

Brian Miller said...

ultimately i think any relationship comes down to communication. we all have our quirks and if we honestly share with each other what they are there may be some we can work on, others we just have to accept, but if we communicate it with each other it cuts out a lot of the resentment...

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Sometimes compensating and complimenting run close together. Great thoughtful post. -J

Jai Joshi said...

I think that's one of my worst nightmares - becoming a nag. In many ways it's the men's fault for driving women to it but at the same time I can't help wondering if there isn't another way to persuade men to do what we want them too. There's got to be another way.

What a thought that they might be things about their wives men want to change. I'd be afraid to ask too.

Jai

Deanna Schrayer said...

Great, thought-provoking post Ronda. I believe it's our attitudes towards our own behavior we need to change the most, and that we hide the fear [of trying to do that] behind nagging our partners. It's always easier to blame someone else for our own problems, and who better than the one we love the most? Unfortunately, it's just plain convenient. We've learned over time what our partner will put up with and how far we can push them. Whether we realize we're doing it or not makes a big difference. I don't think, if we truly love our partner, we would purposefully try to change the person they are, the person we fell in love with in the first place.
That said, I admit that my husband's sarcastic sense of humor, which is one of the things that drew me to him to begin with, can sometimes get on my nerves now, after 13 years of marriage. However, I also know a lot of that has to do with the physical changes in me. When we met I was a very active, healthy person, and now I suffer with various chronic illnesses. The simple fact of the matter is that loud noise, (which is often exuded with that humor), physically hurts me, and it can be exhausting. I'm ashamed to say that he puts up with a lot more from me than I do from him. Honestly, I don't know how he stands to live with me sometimes.
It all comes down to balance, and without honest communication no one is ever going to find that balance. It's work, period, but it's work that's well worth it when you feel that original love shine through.

Ronda Laveen said...

Brian: I think you hit on a key point: reducing resentment by communicating. But for some reason, most of us don't know how to have a proper exchange.

Jayne: Very nice...complimenting and compensating DO go hand-in-hand in regards to relationships.

Jai: I've been a nag on occasion and it doesn't make me feel good. As I've grown older I've gotten better about being much clearer about what I need done and that has helped. I've still not asked the Wonder Husband what he would change about me but, I will soon. Now, I'm kinda curious:-)

Ronda Laveen said...

The following comment is from my friend, NB, who got me thinking about this post:


"You also hit it right on the nail...I have recogonized that when I'm focusing on the negatives of my darling man, it's really about me. For if I had on my perfect glasses, I would not be seeing the negative shadows.

Sooo, now when I become aware of what I'm doing, I ask myself what can I do first. I always remember and share this bit of wisdom with those in need. When they are complaing about mates not doing this or that, you know veggie on the couch with Ms.Tv....my therapist Ronda (she doesnt know this) said, 'What has that got to do with you and how does that stop you from doing?'

There you go, one sentence to solve an issue. My friend is sooo verrrryyy wise."

NB

Ronda Laveen said...

Deanna: Your comment is very introspective and brutally candid. We all change over time. Some things for the better. Some things not so much. The point about blaming our partners because it is convenient is so spot on. No one else is around for us to so readily bash or nag. And when you wrote about how your husband puts up with more from you than you do from him, it made me realize that no matter how imperfect they/we are, we somehow managed to catch a couple of pretty good fellas.

Yes, balance is the key.

Ronda Laveen said...

Deanna: Your comment is very introspective and brutally candid. We all change over time. Some things for the better. Some things not so much. The point about blaming our partners because it is convenient is so spot on. No one else is around for us to so readily bash or nag. And when you wrote about how your husband puts up with more from you than you do from him, it made me realize that no matter how imperfect they/we are, we somehow managed to catch a couple of pretty good fellas.

Yes, balance is the key.

VE said...

I vacuum...what more do you want???

Ronda Laveen said...

VE: The Wonder Husband vacuums too! With three dogs, it's the third thing we do every morning. Right after making the bed and showering.

JGH said...

An astrologist told me once that I would be married to my soul mate but that it wouldn't be easy because I'm a Virgo (perfectionist) and he's a Pisces (sensitive). We're still married, and she's right - it hasn't been easy for those very issues. Pretty amazing to me...

Ronda Laveen said...

JGH: That is an amazing story. But, as I've always found with astrology, forewarned is forearmed. At least the problem didn't blind side you like it might have many others. Great story.