Yesterday I got an email from a woman asking me about her relationship. To protect her privacy, I won’t quote her here but instead give her a fake name and summarise her situation.
Mary has been with her boyfriend for eight years. She loves him more than she has ever loved anyone else, he treats her like a princess and the sex is heart-stopping. But he doesn’t look good on paper as her friends and family are quick to remind her. He’s not good with money, he’s not very responsible and doesn’t always do what he says he will. Her heart is telling her to stay and her head is telling her to go. What should Mary do?
Appreciate what you’ve got
There are many, many women in the world who would love to find a man they can connect with on a deep and intimate level. It doesn’t come along every day. Having a heart that is filled and satisfied with your lover is a rare and precious gift. It is something worth fighting for and shouldn’t be seen as easily replaced. You need to be hardcore to live life without that kind of connection and life is hard enough without making it harder.
Our partners are our teachers
It has been said that there is no relationship that teaches us more about ourselves than the one we have with our partner. We are drawn to the people who have the greatest potential to change our lives and our view of the world. Instead of seeing his faults as something he needs to fix, see them as indicators of what it is inside you that needs work.
Duckfish has an elastic view of time. He doesn’t know how long things will take or when he might be ready to move on to the next thing. He doesn’t need to be scheduled down to the last second just because I am. Together he is better at being on time and I am less likely to stress about being late. We teach each other the benefit of the opposite approach.
Who’s values are important?
Is it important to you that he is good with money? Can you have a relationship where your finances are separate and you don’t interfere in each other’s financial decisions? The values that our friends and family have aren’t necessarily your values. If you let go of the notion that everyone had to be financial successful, who would you be without that thought?
Is marriage the next logical step?
Why does marriage have to be the goal in a relationship? There is something to be said for living outside this social and legal construct. Nothing lasts forever and most marriages either dissolve or continue on in bored tolerance. There is much to be said for holding your relationship in the present moment and not putting expectations on it lasting for ever. It makes you appreciate every moment together and never take each other for granted.
You attract what you are ready for
The kind of partner we have is the type of partner we are. If you are open in love you will attract that same kind of person. If you grow and your values shift in another direction, you will no longer be attracted to the person you are with. You will find yourself wanting to be with someone who aligns with whoever you are underneath the mask you wear to fit in.
The reason I stayed with my husband for so long was because he was the same kind of person I used to be — emotionally distant, inward focused and suspicious of the world. It wasn’t until I changed that I realised he could never give me the things my new self wanted. I attracted a man who was all the things I wanted to experience — passion, risk taking, freedom and positive energy.
Identify your deal breaker
You are never going to find the perfect man. There will always be something he is or does that isn’t exactly what you hoped for. Unconditional love is the art of negotiation and compromise. I can live with the fact that Duckfish is anal about the washing and needing his hangers and shirts to all be in the same direction. I can deal with the reality that he has a high maintenance ex-wife. Everything isn’t the way I ordered it when I asked for a man in my life but I’m sure I’m not exactly what he wanted either.
It’s like you draw a line where your limits are and sometimes things get very close to that line. But as long as they stay under that line then you can deal with the issues when they arise. It’s the things that go over the line you shouldn’t put up with or compel you to leave.
That line is very personal and you might not even be able to articulate it but you’ll know when it’s been crossed. It will be a deep visceral reaction of hurt, not an intellectual assessment of the situation. I couldn’t be with a man who had no spiritual awareness or who wasn’t physically affectionate. I would have to leave a relationship if I didn’t feel like I was loved in spite of my crazy hormonal moods.
Life’s too short to waste being safe and normal
Only you can decide what’s right for you
Today’s decision might be different to tomorrow. You might make the wrong decision. All you have to do is choose — it’s living in the endless spiral of yes and no that exhausts us.
Should you follow your head or your heart?
I say follow both but make sure you are honest enough to listen to your heart’s deepest desires and open-minded enough to see that your view of the world can and will change.
What would you do in Mary’s situation?