I do believe in love.
But sometimes we get wrapped up loving the wrong people, ignoring the red flags and hoping like crazy they will change. Because we loooooooovvvvvvvvveeeeee them. And all you need is love…. right?
A couple of years ago I read an article about Dr. Phil and wife Robin McGraw. Written more from her side of the relationship, she explained how she talked of marriage on their first date. Not necessarily marriage to HIM, but more as marriage as a dream of hers, a goal, something that she wanted in the future.
It was a big risk to put out marriage as a possible future on the first date, especially with a man who had been married and divorced before he was 23 years old. What if he didn’t want to get married? Shouldn’t Robin just go with the flow and not rock the boat? After all, it was only their first date!
Well, you know the rest of the story. They got married, have two boys, a handful of grandchildren, and appear to be very supportive of each other personally and professionally.
Inside it all there is a valuable lesson: Figure out what you want so you can weed out the frogs and get to the prince.
I’m guilty, I spent plenty of years spinning my wheels in relationships that were heading no where. Like running on a relationship treadmill, there was lots of effort and very little forward movement.
Let me pull out the big lesson – Husband #1.
Don’t get me wrong, he had plenty of good qualities, otherwise I wouldn’t have stuck with him for 15 years (5 years of dating, 10 years of marriage). But we had vast differences when it came to something primary: sex. I like sex and touching and kissing and hand holding and wrapping myself around someone. The feel of skin against skin is so soothing to me. I’m a toucher and a passionate one at that. Sex is not just sex. It’s bonding. It’s sharing a part of me with a part of my loved one that NO ONE else in my life gets. It’s intimate and hot and funny and tender and I could have sex every day with the right partner.
Husband #1 was an amoeba. An asexual being that wasn’t into Tab A goes into Slot B activities. Sure, he’d do it (and I have a couple of kids to prove that sex did occur) but it was more of a chore than a pleasurable endeavor between two people.
I knew this going into our wedding day and like all naive women, I thought he would come around, that we could meet in the middle somewhere between my desire and his avoidance.
Sex ended up being a major power struggle in our marriage. And in the end, we went our separate ways. Had I been smart back at the beginning of our relationship, I would have saved myself 15 years of heartache and frustration.
I’m now a believer in laying it on the line, even if it means that 9 out of 10 men decide I’m too high maintenance or whatever label they decide to stick on me.
At least I’ll make it to Man #10 faster.
So here’s my list of must haves for future Marriage #3:
What I believe a relationship should be for both partners:
- Treated with respect
- Feel safe
- Feel loved the great majority of the time
- Our relationship should create more opportunities/possibilities than it takes away
- My partner’s love and support should make it easier for me to take on new challenges in my life
- Encouraged to pursue deepest dreams
- Sharing financial resources should put me in a more solid position than I am as a single person
- Our relationship should broaden our horizons, not narrow them
- We understand there are sacrifices on the part of both partners and recognize when someone takes it means the other is giving
- Our relationship should have passion and intimacy
- Sex is a joy, not a bother
- I should feel seen by my partner
- My partner wants to know me
- My partner likes me
- My partner wants to understand my dreams and ambitions
- My partner should be on my team in life. I should feel that he has my back.
- My partner should value what I give to the world
- Our relationship handles the reality of life
- Talks about the mundane minutiae of everyday living
- Plans for the future with joint goal setting
- Balance between romance and reality
- I am asked, not assumed
- Partners ask for input from each other
- Consideration of wants, desires, dreams, preferences
- We talk to each other first about our problems
- Togetherness in residence
- Living in the same house
- Living as partners, not roommates
- Shared housekeeping
- Comingled finances
- Joint decision making
Yes, I may scare off some potential dating partners, but I won’t waste 15 years on a guy who doesn’t feel the same way.