Monday, January 5, 2015

Why Prioritizing Your Relationship is Actually Hurting It

Break-up Bucket Lists were going viral this week, listing the top 50 things to do after a break up or divorce. Alongside the obvious suggestions like speed dating, dating people outside of your type and one night stands are some other items that concerned me. They include ideas like: take a trip alone, buy flowers for myself, meditate, get a massage, swim in the ocean naked, learn to say no, learn to say yes and many more. 

The lists suggest a very true and unhealthy common relationship behavior. In an attempt to prioritze the relationship or our partner, we stop doing things for ourselves and by ourselves. Instead, we absorb into the relationship and sort of merge into one person. In doing so, we leave behind the little mini passions and interests that we had at the start. 

My husband travels for work two weeks at a time, spending a week at home in between. When he's home, I try to rearrange my schedule so that I have maximum time for him. ​On his most recent trip home, we got into a bit of an argument over a comment he made about me not spending enough time working. Unaware that I had rearranged my schedule for him, he assumed our week of lounging and eating out was my norm. I was hurt and offended that he didn't appreciate my hard work or efforts to make time for him. Feeling unappreciated, it dawned on me, though, that we all clear our schedules for our partners in little ways all the time. While we do it out of love, it often goes unnoticed by ourslves and our loved ones. 

Whether it's waking up early to pack everyone's​ lunches instead of meditate, or saying​ 'no' to some much needed alone time when your partner is off of work, we regularly make small sacrifices to our own growth and life for the benefit of our relationships. Even deciding just a few nights a week to bask in the comfort of your loved ones and your couch instead of going to that book club or yoga class compiles over the years to mute our passions and stifle our own personal growth. 

Years go by and we realize that somewhere along the way, we lost ourselves. Whether or not that leads to the end of your relationship with your partner or your kids, it certainly leads to a damaged relationship with yourself. We wake up bored, overweight and unfulfilled and wonder where the excitement disappeared to.

Relationships, marriage and parenthood aren't destinations at which we arrive and hang up our personalities and personal growth for a rainy day when you're single. They are partnerships we must enter into with the agreement to cultivate three relationships at a time​:​ y​our own, your partner's and your relationship as a couple. Though compromises are inevitable, there must always be room for your your needs as an individual. You must cultivate your own passions and relationships so you feel as energized in the relationship as you did when you started it.  Keep the mystery of having two lives alive, the way it was when you first met. 

This week, make your own Bucket List--the 5 or 10 or 50 things you have been pushing aside because of your relationship. Do you really need to be single to pursue most of them? Probably not. Choose one or two that you can easily accomplish this week or this month, and go for it. Notice how pursuing your passions--whether they're cooking a meal, meeting up with a friend, or trying something bigger--deepens your sense of self. How does that change what you offer your relationship with your partner? I bet you have a friend that should read this: pass it on!

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