So, this last year, whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to look for in a future partner.....I could easily make lists. Solid job. Believes education is more than a means to an end. Likes kids. Isn't a shit head. You know. The normal stuff.
But, I started to realize that it left my issues and my baggage out of the process entirely. So recently, I have started thinking about things that I would do differently next time. Ways that I could improve based on lessons I learned during this last marriage. It was a somewhat eye-opening experience, really. Now I should clarify - I'm not looking for the ways that I failed, or the things that I did that were awful. We're beyond that now. But, now that I can analyze things with a healthy dose of detachment, I found several things to be cognizant of.
I won't share some of the more intimate details. Cause....well that's none of your damn business. Some of the things - if I had to do it again would be as follows:
1) Not take my partner for granted. I did this. Especially after the honeymoon period. To be fair to myself, I think everyone does this. And I suppose to be specific, make sure that they know that I appreciate what they are doing for me and for our family. I think that showing your partner that you respect their attempts at bettering the family overall is extraordinarily important. I didn't do enough of that.
2) Don't shy away from fights and confrontations. I think it's fair to say, that as a society, we haven't quite mastered the art of ESP. And yet, I always did everything I could to keep the peace, while silently stewing about something for a long time. Only, to then have an EXPLOSION. When, in all reality, the entire thing could have been avoided if I had simply said 'Ya know, I really hate it that you leave your laundry on the floor. If I buy a hamper and put it in approximately the area that you leave your clothes, can you try using that? It would mean a lot to me.' That would probably be more well received than 'Your @#$ clothes are on the #@%$ floor again. I #%#$ hate that @#$%#@. $#$%%^#%$@$@#%.' You get the idea.
3) Remembered that my needs to feel attractive are just important to me as they are to him (even if he doesn't realize it). This actually is at the root of a bigger issue. In my attempts once again at keeping the peace, I put my Husband's and my Daughter's needs above my own. My weight swung wildly out of control because I didn't feel right taking the time to work out. I served what was requested, not what I knew would be better for all of us. I didn't want to spend the money to do the things that made me feel pretty and attractive, because I felt like I was wasting our money (when in all reality I was just sending my self esteem further into the shitter). Depression is an ugly monster. And whether you mean to or not you can often drag everyone around you down with it. My depression was at it's worst when I was at my....not prettiest. Which makes sense - it was a direct physical representation of what I felt like on the inside. But making the effort would have benefited myself, as well as my family. Asking for some time to myself to attend to the things that would make me look and feel good ARE important. And we all deserve that time and those things.
4) Date nights. They're kind of vital. You hear this advice all the time. 'Make sure you make time to nurture your relationship as husband and wife'. I don't even need to go into this one. We didn't. We should have. I'll try to do better next time.
5) My need to be right really doesn't need to supersede his need to feel my support for him. I know this sounds kind of odd. But, did I need to stand behind him and micromanage the way he was painting that wall, or cleaning that thing? Nope. I didn't. And I think the worst was probably implying that he just didn't know what he was doing. Maybe he didn't. But how many things did I bluff MY way through? ALL KINDS OF STUFF. And how unsettling - to have your partner constantly question your abilities. How about having a little faith? And even if there is 'failure' how about being the loving and supportive person you can be, instead of the 'I told you so' person? I think this one is a big deal because this one REALLY swung both ways. I was constantly being reminded, even if it was unknowingly, that I would surely fail at what I was trying to do. Not cool, dude. Not cool. So, making a conscious effort to affirm his actions, that he is doing the right things. Because, if there isn't affirmation inside your relationship, they might seek it somewhere else. Or so I'm told.
I guess those were the big ones. And I bet a lot of people can connect with a few of these, so I thought I would share. Your partner needs to hear that you appreciate them. Your partner needs to feel like you prioritize them, as well as yourself. These are issues I hope I can remind myself of when I'm having a hard time finding where the problem is. Maybe that's why I had to blog it. Either way. If one of these looks familiar, maybe today's the day you can decide to try a different approach.