I wrote a few days ago a blog called “why would he want me?”. A good friend took offense and told me so. She pretty much said…your husband isn’t mr. perfect. He has his issues. . . .And it made me think…what the hell am I always putting myself down for? Why do I never feel that I measure up to him? Why do I get the sense that I completely lucked out when I married him and he ended up getting screwed? Read more . . . you is smart, you is kind, you is important.
I just read this post from one of my favorite bloggers, The Sober Party Girl. In it, she discusses how her husband, in her mind, has a need for “all of us to be together every second that is possible.” She describes using alcohol and cigarettes for years as a signal for her family to just leave her alone. She reflects that she’s always felt wrong for needing alone time sometimes.
I read this post with interest, because this is very likely how My Love views me – as having a need for togetherness every second possible (my words, not his). Now, this is not my need, and it’s probably not Party Girl’s husband’s need either. It’s fascinating, because she seems to have a bent toward black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking, just as My Love and I do. Oftentimes in our world, if he and I have different needs or wants, one of us has to be right and one of us has to be wrong. It’s impossible for us to reconcile having different needs, with both sets of needs being valid.
How that translates sometimes in daily life: I have more of a need for togetherness, and he has more of a need for solitude. If we are wrapped up in our codependency, that looks like me having an unhealthy need to monopolize his time, and him having an unhealthy need to isolate. However, most of the time, we are working our programs, we are healthier than not, and we are not wrapped up in codependency…yet we still have disparate views regarding the ideal amount of time together.
Why do we always have to believe someone is right and someone is wrong? Why did the Sober Party Girl believe for so many years she was wrong for needing solitude, and her husband was right for needing togetherness? Why have I allowed myself to be convinced that my need to regularly share experiences with My Love is something I would not need if I were emotionally healthy? What is it about alcoholics, addicts, and codependents that we must frame everything as right or wrong, black or white, all or nothing, his needs or my needs?
I suspect that the dysfunction in our families of origin comes into play in this matter, making it difficult to know what “normal” looks like. I was taught that I must earn all love and acceptance–to prove myself worthy–in essence, to manipulate loved ones into loving me. While wrestling with this issue, I actually did some quite extensive research to determine what the “range of normal” togetherness would be during the early stages of a relationship.
I believe the antidote to the problem is our Higher Power, Father God, who meets all our needs. When we leave Father out of the equation, My Love will see my needs as nothing but unhealthy, codependent clinginess, and I will see his needs as nothing but selfish withdrawal and isolation. However, when I seek to meet his needs as much as possible, rather than seeking to have my needs met by him, our relationship is a beautiful, fulfilling thing. I can only do this by seeking to have Father, not My Love, meet my needs.
Submit to one another out of reference for Christ. ~Ephesians 5:21
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. . . . If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. ~1 Peter 4:10-11
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness… ~Matthew 6:33
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. ~Colossians 3:1-3
My Love does the same. I have watched him over the last couple weeks sacrifice some of his solitude to reach out to me and my need for togetherness, trusting Father to meet his needs rather than trying to meet them himself. As a result, I feel loved, cherished, wanted, and grateful, and am more likely to leave him alone when he needs solitude and I need togetherness, out of a genuine desire to meet his needs in love. I will choose to not call him, even when I miss him. He will choose to surprise me with a visit, even though he had alone time planned for himself that evening. Servant love begets more servant love.
We have not been practicing this for very long, so I am far from an expert on this relationship issue. Nor do we do it perfectly; for example, on the eve of this writing I did not approach My Love with an attitude of meeting his needs, but rather with an attitude of getting my needs met from him and being angry that they weren’t. Needless to say, the results of that conversation were not edifying.
Thank you, Father, that while we do it ineptly, we do it imperfectly, we do it inconsistently–we do it under grace.