What I’ve Learned in My First Adult Relationship

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READING TIME: 4 min.

DMB April

Dating as a single thirty-something can be a ton of fun. I wrote about it here. Being one half of a relationship can be a lot of fun too.  But it can also be brutally humbling and scary as I am faced head-on with my insecurities, my flaws, and my “baggage”.  Basically, I am often at a standoff with myself and like a lot of women, I can be my own worst enemy.

Of course, relationships at any phase in life will have difficult moments. But for me and for my now, my relationship post-divorce and with children has been the most challenging and the most revealing yet.  It has also been the most productive.

Resolving arguments cannot always be an immediate priority and I have a dependency issue with conflict resolution. Those moments of a fight that are gut-wrenchingly fierce paralyze me.  Except now, I don’t normally have the luxury or time to be being paralyzed in tears.  We have hockey today; and it is our turn to bring a special snack to school; and there is laundry to do; and a Board meeting tonight; and bills to pay and books to read and snuggles to be shared. So, time is scheduled for the next day to talk through our differences. The knot in my stomach, which is now accompanied by guilt from a short fuse with my child, will stay with me through hockey and the Board meeting and through the snuggles and will keep me awake most of the night. 

 I need more reassurance than any adult should. I fear the worst, think the worst, and need mountains of the “right words” to bring me off the ledge of sabotage. It’s a shame that I am the only one who knows the right words at the right time….that would make things too easy.

I have learned that the only thing harder than loving someone else wholly is loving myself wholly.  And the only thing harder than trusting someone else completely is trusting myself completely.  Loving myself enough to believe and trust that someone else could love me too.  And trusting myself enough to give my love away knowing it comes with risk that one day it might hurt. Trusting that history won’t repeat itself; and that I’ll be okay. And that I know better now. Those two things, Love and Trust, have never been so entwined for me before. TRUVE.

Battles should not just be chosen but chosen very methodically. Very few things really matter. This is a reminder I need daily. Bad habits can be kicked or ignored. Almost everything can be worked out with communication and the thinking that most things don’t matter. The benefit to not having immediate resolution and sidelining that ugly knot in my stomach is a renewed perspective. By the time we can focus on whatever caused it I usually realize doesn’t matter anymore anyway.

Keeping my mouth shut and responding instead of reacting saves a lot of heartache….mostly mine. This is universal.  When my feelings get hurt whether warranted or unfounded. When he wants my opinion; whether it is about parenting, work or otherwise he will ask for it. Ironically, it works the other way too.  Respond don’t React. Don’t React, Respond. Over and Over. I have carried this lesson to many other aspects of my life. 

The fights I face in my relationship are not what I expected they’d be.  They aren’t him and me standing across the room yelling nasty things at each other that we won’t be able to take back. 

I am in my mid-thirties, have a failed marriage successfully under my belt, kept a child alive and happy for 4.5  years, have thriving career and the only battles that I really face are against myself.

So, when I think back about being swept off my feet and moving away to live Happily-Ever-After with my new fiancé as a twenty-something I think it’s a great story. But that’s not what I have finally learned Love to be. Loving and knowing myself needs to come first and I am finally in the depths of both.  

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