What I’ve Learned About Love

IMG_1417I had the trendiest blog all written to publish this morning.  It was legit cool.  I name-dropped some biggies, included photos filtered perfectly; there was comedy, tragedy, love, a universal theme well-suited for my girls!

It was all there. I was so proud of myself.
You know what wasn’t there? Empathy for the man I love and committed myself to.

That’s right.  I was so busy trying to establish myself as a writer, my blog, my new AP Seminar class, my new social connections, that I totally lost sight of his feelings in the process, and therefore–I could have sacrificed our relationship.

Dang that’s hard to admit.  I thought I was the kind of person who never put herself first.  I’m Meg in the Mid!

So I hit up my dear friend Google.
This caught my eye: the definition of egocentric is “thinking only of oneself, without regard for the feelings or desires of others; self-centered”.

Self-centered?  Wait a sec.  I thought women today were supposed to be self-centered. Center thyself. We are the nucleus of our families!  Put our oxygen masks on first!  I needed to process these mixed signals.

My narrative usually sounds like this:

  • I’m a good mom who tries to be better every day
  • I’m an honest and committed fiance
  • I’m a passionate teacher
  • I’m a motherless daughter
  • I’m a blogger and writer
  • I’m an aspiring fancy shoe collector
  • I’m a reader of self-help books and inspiring quotes
  • I listen to podcasts to help me grow every which way until I’m Elastigirl

Truth? That’s a whole lotta me, myself, and I right there.

Self-centered?  Egocentric?  Hmmm. That trendy blog I was so proud of definitely did not regard Matt’s feelings, until he told me.

I was stuck.  Then Rachel Hollis came to my rescue again.  Seriously, I was scrolling through my podcasts and happened upon her “Rise Together” podcast with her husband Dave Hollis dated July 18th.  I liked her book so much, why not give her podcast a shot?  I’d never listened to it before, but lately things have been finding me at the right time.

It was spot on.  It got me thinking about being an independent woman who wants to accomplish so much while also being a partner.

So where is the balance for women today between having ambition and pride, yet wanting to be a loving and committed partner? Is it okay to sacrifice some of our work, pride, ambition, for the betterment of a relationship?

I was single.  Then I was married.  Then I reclaimed my independence.  Then I played the dating game.  Then I met Matt.

Traveling through each of those phases of my life, I answer my previous question with an emphatic yes.

I’m not saying to forgo your hopes, dreams, ambition, or pride.  Go get ’em!  Earn them!  Celebrate them!  And if you’re lucky enough to have a supportive partner like I do who encourages your passions and dreams, then cheers to you, sister!

What I am saying is that if you’re partner is supportive 95% of the time, count your blessings!  But if the other 5% of the time, he shares his concerns about what you’re doing, hear him out.  Let the numbers in the support/concern ratio speak for themselves.  He is 50% of your working relationship.  Respect that.  (I’m an English teacher, but I still get math, folks.)

Matt has been so supportive of everything I’ve wanted to pursue.  I don’t give him enough credit.  He deserves it.  He makes Target runs for me when I’m swamped, he strings party lights in my classroom for ambiance, he prints pictures he’ll think I’ll like, he takes care of dinner when I’m busy, he spoils me on trips to Vail and Pine Creek, he gets me massages at the Four Seasons, he orders me things from Amazon Prime that suddenly appear on my doorstep.  But most importantly, he loves my kids.  I mean, he loves Mady and Lance.  (And by now, I can tell the difference between fake love for my kids and the real-deal.)  He’s the real deal.  Mad props right there.

And he gave me a ring.
And I said yes.

I’m no expert on anything.  Except maybe having too much righteous indignation at times.  Which in its own way, does make me an expert because I acknowledge it and learn from my mistakes.  We all should.  But first we have to be able to admit them to ourselves.  (Easier said than done, I know.  Swallow your pride with a spoon full of sugar.)

Sage elders have told me (via hieroglyphics) that a good relationship takes good communication.

I’m not so good at talking, especially if it’s a hard conversation.  It’s part of my baggage from my childhood and my marriage.  I shut down.  Walls up.  Plead the Fifth.  Defense budget Trump-style.  Ain’t nobody gettin’ in here.  No way.  See because then I protect myself from vulnerability, getting hurt, and I can push people away before I ever really let them in.

God, typing that sounds so cliche and trite, like I’m some kind of a rom-com archetype. Jimmy Fallon “Ew!”

But that was my truth.  I’m working on it.

I remember somebody giving me the book The Hard Questions by Susan Piver when I was in my twenties.  I tossed it.  (Young and dumb.)  Not to worry–with age comes wisdom.  At this point in my life, I realize that the hard questions are the very questions that make a relationship grow into something bigger and better.

I know that I want to offer the world a bigger, better version of myself.  I think that all of us should strive toward that–otherwise we’re stagnant and not fulfilling our God-given potential.  How dare us? What could the world be missing out on because you are not doing your thing?  And how boring life would be! 

You bored with life?  That’s why, right there…stagnation.

Relationships can remain stagnant; love either grows or it withers.  We have to be able to get through the icky stuff, the brutally honest, icky stuff that’s hard to talk about.  But then boom!  We can come out with bigger and better relationships as well.

Matt gives me hope there.

I now see what coming out on the other side of hard conversations looks like.  And the view from here is extraordinary!  (Way better than that chic blog I was gonna publish this morning…btw if you’re curious, just check out some hashtags and handles in future IG posts–part of our compromise!)

Pursuing my own happiness is a seminal right given to me by Thomas Jefferson et al.  I am lucky to be a woman in this country with this much freedom, independence, and opportunity.  I don’t take that lightly.

My chic, trendy blog?  Meh.

I’m still learning a lot about love and relationships in the middle of my life. I hope someday I’m an old lady in a rocking chair on a porch talking to my great-granddaughter about life.  This story will come up.  She’ll probably ask me what the heck a blog was.  But I will definitely tell her what I learned about love

*This article was submitted to hello-sunshine.com*

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