Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Suddenly a Relationship Expert????

So here I am, 1 month away from marrying the man I love, my missing piece, and am absolutely over the moon! I am floored at how fast this all happened and even more floored that I FINALLY made the right decision when it came to men. I feel so lucky to have met him and even luckier that we have somehow been able to make this all work. I mean lets face it, it's not like the cards were stacked in our favor. We lived 1721 miles apart, there is a significant language barrier, and it's not like we exactly have the same background.

A funny thing has happened to me along the way, suddenly I have all sorts of people asking for relationship advice. This is funny to me for a number of reasons but the biggest is that I have NEVER been good at relationships and still don't consider myself a relationship expert. Digital, sales, and general business - definitely but relationships - not so much. So for people to all of a sudden be asking me advice on relationships seems a little funny is reminding me how hard it really was to get here.

So while I'm no expert, here is how WE got here:  we are open and honest, we don't play games, we really communicate, and we always say I'm sorry when we act like idiots. Seems obvious but think about it - how many times have you tried to pretend to be someone you thought they wanted you to be as opposed to yourself? How many times have you pretended to not want certain things because you didn't think they wanted it. Complete honesty is is a lot easier said than done and I think that's why people say relationships are work - because you not only need to be honest with them, you have to be honest with yourself. And you can't have complete honestly without communication.

Very early on in our relationship we had a tough conversation - you know the one about our past. Look, I am not proud of some of my past decisions but for some reason I didn't hold back and it was hard - for both of us. He didn't love hearing some of what he heard, but we talked about it, talked about how it was in fact the past and how my past taught me to be a better person. I learned from my past mistakes and my past helped shape who I am. Now I am not saying share every single detail of past relationships, but I am saying it's ok to admit to some past mistakes and misjudgments - pretty sure none of us are without fault somewhere.

The other conversation we had early on was what we both wanted. In the past, when conversation turned to marriage and children, I often kept what I REALLY wanted from some of the men I dated because I thought it wasn't what THEY wanted and I wanted to be loved and accepted by them. It seems obvious, but that doesn't work. Too often women pretend to be something we aren't - free spirits who don't need to get married or have kids - we are afraid to scare them away. Well here's the thing - what does that actually solve? We don't think of it as lying but it is. How can a relationship grow into something serious and committed if you pretend you don't care about that? So for the first time, when my fiance asked what I wanted I said out loud "I want to get married and have a family, which I don't think is what you want." The biggest surprise was his response that he could get married and would like another child." Say WHAT?????

Doesn't seem like a big deal, but that sentence was terrifying because I was falling hard for this man and my perception was that was not something he would want. Guess I was wrong  - I thought I was taking a huge  risk that day but I don't know that we would have gotten here if I hadn't told him what I really wanted. I told him what I wanted and he didn't say no. We were communicating, talking about what we both wanted. We weren't 100% in alignment but over the last year we have each made compromises and learned from each other.   There were deal breakers for us both - and we talked about them: I don't want to move to Florida he needs to live near the water, I always want to work he wants to make sure that there is always "us time" where the phone and the computer are not being checked perpetually.

The point is we talked about this stuff a lot and we both wanted to make this work. The last part is really important - we BOTH wanted to make it work. So we did. It hasn't been easy - weeks apart make it tough. We make every effort to speak every day, even if it's for 2 minutes. We share the most mundane details of our day as often as we share the more exciting ones. We compromise and we make sacrifices for the betterment of us. But ultimately all comes down to being honest, talking, not playing games and being yourself - and both being on the same page. It won't make every relationship a success because there may be deal breakers that you can't compromise on - if another child was out of the question we would never be getting married one month from today. But if we never had the conversation, we might not be getting married either.

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