If you have read any of my postings recently, you will notice a trend. That trend is that I am transparent in what I write and I am doing that for really just one reason…it is therapeutic for me. The funny thing is that God is changing me and it feels good to share that with people who don’t really know me because you can take what I tell you at face value without any preconceived ideas of who I am or have the baggage of having known me for 20+ years (30+ years for some unlucky souls).
Warning! Brief Tangent Ahead. This is something we all need to think about and that is that the hardest part of trying to change is not for the person doing the changing…it is the battle they fight with their friends and family who won’t allow them to change. This is not done maliciously but it happens because when someone we know and love is trying to change (good for them) it requires that we change as well (bad for us). We have mental constructs of our world and how it operates. Part of this process requires that we categorize people into, more or less, caricatures of themselves. Things like the “funny guy” or the “tough guy”…you know what I mean. Well, when someone tries to change, this may cause our construct to be altered and we are not really up for that so we (subconsciously) work to keep them in their current state instead of assisting them in their journey. OK, back to the topic at hand.
The one thing I can tell you (but cannot explain why) is that I am an extremely private and guarded person (in a face to face setting). I am not inclined to share much of myself with people and this is most likely the reason I am historically viewed as “stand-offish” and “hard to get to know”. Funny thing is that for those who do know me, they would tell you I am easy to talk to and extremely funny…quite a paradox I know. At this point you may be asking what any of this has to do with marriage and partnership but stay with me as I am preparing to tie this all together.
Lisa & I have been married for nearly 22 years and we personify the old adage that “opposites attract”. This is a woman who is going straight to heaven for having stayed by my side through all of the ups and downs (there have been quite a few of both). At this point in my life I have no problem sharing that I am a flawed human in the truest sense. Perhaps it is a because of my personality (some might argue that should be plural) that I am reserved and quite most of the time. I have often said I would not wish for anyone else to have to live in my head with my thoughts as most of them center on what I have failed to accomplish in my life and how I have let Lisa and kids down…but I digress. Lisa has said many times that she really doesn’t know much about me. She jokes that she doesn’t even know what I would get on a sub at Subway and that annoys her. The issue here is that I tend to be closed off and do for others but do not allow others to do for me. I thought for some time I might be a Puritan when I stumbled across this quote from H.L. Mencken, “Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.” You can imagine how much of a joy it is for Lisa to be married to me!
I see know that this is at the very core of marriage but see from an entirely different point of view over these past several weeks. This is not her fault but mine because for the past 22 years I thought it was my responsibility to bear the burden of running the family. For whatever reason, I did not share bad news with her and tried to make it all work out for everyone even if it meant that I had many restless nights. I never wanted her to have to worry about anything because I knew that there had been many times that our family endured hardships because of my decisions so each time I felt like I had to make up for it. (I may or may not have a minor martyr complex)
This is definitely neither what she wanted nor what should have happened. She wanted to share both the good and the bad and I was cheating her out of that and did not realize it until just this month. It is amazing what God shows you if you are willing to see and hear. I have to say that this was quite an epiphany for me and not something I take lightly. It has had a profound impact on me and I am working to change to ensure that we are partners from this point forward. She has always been a fantastic wife but she also wanted to be my partner…I just would not let her in. It’s ironic because she wanted to be a part of the very thing I was protecting her from…I immediately think of the “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry.
That is all changing now but it’s tough. It takes focus to share and communicate, especially when it has not been a part of my day-to-day activities over the past 22 years. It has been cathartic for me to really understand that I can share all of this with her. Most of all, it feels good to know we are in it together.
When does marriage become a partnership?
When you let it.