Posts Tagged ‘change

31
Dec
10

Cohabitation and personal change

I was talking with a co-worker this afternoon, and she mentioned how after so much time with her S.O. she was beginning to feel that “everything you do irritates me” feeling.  I know this feeling.  Fortunately, and thanks in no small part to my wife, I also know what it’s like when that feeling is conquered and begins to fade.  While my coworker and I talked, I suggested two sort-of rudimentary ways to approach the issue.  Now that I am home and have stepped away from the conversation I thought I would toss it out into the blogoshpere and see what comes back(even though I rarely get non-suspect comments from real readers on this blog, and that’s probably my own fault for being half insane).  The two approaches I suggested were fairly polar, and I realize that can be problematic, but a lot of relationship issues do tend to lack a wealth of approaches.  I will comment on that more later, for now I’ll recap:

In my opinion, she could A) Listen to her gut (meditate, force-conclusion, ego-mirror, etc) and decide whether or not the relationship she is in is one where the pressure to become a better person is not only there, but mutual.  Or, B) Pick something she does which irritates her S.O., catch a moment when she chooses NOT to engage that irritating behavior, and remark out loud about it.

In the first scenario, I am basically suggesting she decide whether or not the relationship is even worth the personal dissection.  If it is, then my second approach ought to be a good starting marker for how to recognize change in your partner.  This is really difficult without a plan of action because when you spend day in and day out with one person, you don’t see the ways they are changing.  You may notice if you go to a party where a large number of people are your S.O.’s friends, many people that your S.O. hasn’t seen in six months or a year may remark on how much your S.O. has matured, while you sit by scratching your head daring the old friend to go ahead and try dating your impossible S.O. for his or her self and see how they like.  This thought should be a red flag, because it indicates that you believe you are best suited to meet your damaged partner’s needs.  Maybe you are… but the no-no is finding yourself in a place of moral or behavioral superiority in a relationship that should be built on mutual respect and appreciation.

My wife and I use the method I mention above.  Even though we had some epic fights and misunderstandings at the get-go, we always have and always will talk about the things we are or are not satisfied with in the relationship in non-blaming(as possible) language, and then try to vocally express when we have acted alternatively to the problem behavior so that the other person knows, at the very least, that you are still thinking about it and still care.  For example, my wife really hated it when I used to “help” in the kitchen, because what usually occurred, and I admit it now, was my domination of the whole project.  She loves to cook as much as I do, and I was condescending her by jumping in too enthusiastically with my own ideas rather than getting a bearing on where she was headed first.  This has changed, but it took time and the effort to point out small milestones for the change to be recognized.  Now I ask her if she wants help, and if she does, I ask her specifically what she’d like me to do.  Sometimes she will have me just chop some shit up, other times she will actually want my own input.

Over simplified?  Sure.  But nonetheless applicably sound.

Or, for a different scenario, let’s say that one person in a committed relationship has a drinking “problem”, and I put that in quotes because not everyone said to have one does.  That can be somewhat subjective.  So let’s, for the sake of ease, say that one person drinks more than other.  The one who drinks less would like the other to do the same or at least work towards a middle ground (ok, fine, this is based on personal experience), so the one whose drinking is problematic in the context of the relationship should make it known EACH time they are intentionally curbing a desire for a given quantity or frequency of alcohol; mind you, not in a whining or punitive way.  And since I already admitted that I am just talking about my own life, I should also say that this approach has worked for my wife and I.  She has a much healthier relationship with day-to-day drinking than I do, and through communicating each effort to reduce my own drinking down to a level that was more acceptable, she began to see that, indeed, even though I still require some wine or what-have-you to get ready for bed, the amount has decreased more than significantly.  Of course, her insistence and my acceptance of the issue were key too, but there’s just no reason I can think of to avoid such changes unless the change in question is a “deal breaker”.

So as I savor my glass of wine over some blog writing tonight, I would encourage others in a similar spot to at least attempt this method, for even if it fails, you will have gained important knowledge either way: Possibly the knowledge that your connection wasn’t that strong after all, possibly the knowledge that it can only get stronger.

Take care.

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26
Jul
08

and it all worked out

Funny, the way you can almost unintentionally find yourself anywhere but where you intended to be, and funnier still, how when you arrive at this unexpected place along your journey, that, unless you have wound up in a very bad place, the old intentions and your new reality are not marked by a feeling of abandonment. Well, I suppose some could wind up in a fine place and still look back as though they had failed by not accomplishing this or that, but that may be a personal problem.

A few months ago I gave up my Minneapolis job hunt, frustrated at the lack of good entry level jobs. I had been waiting to hear back from the only company I actually wanted to work for for what seemed to be dismally long. A split second before I gave up completely I spotted an ad for Americorps, an avenue I had not considered. I called the director of the Santa Barbara, CA Literacy Program and had a very pleasant chat in which he decided I was already pre-qualified (notable as the paid opportunities are very, very hard to get). So, I downloaded the extensive application and reference forms and plugged away. I told nothing but the truth, as their federal background check would reveal inconsistencies that I tend to let go on regular applications (such as having 13,000 different jobs, many not lasting more than a few months). I do hate to have anything ‘required’ of me, it goes against my artist nature. Anyway, I rallied my friends who provided stellar reference letters and wrote my own brilliant letter of interest. It was looking good, I thought I had a fighting chance.

I waited for two weeks for word after mailing it. Nothing.

Then, one fortuitous Wednesday afternoon I got a voice message from the Minneapolis based company that i had wanted to work for (good benefits/salary and non-profit environment) but did not return their call that day; I needed to sleep on it. A. and I had started to become very excited at the prospect of moving to California for a year and had bought city maps and looked at it through “google earth.” We had started looking for apartments and a job for her. We both had a lot riding on my acceptance to the program. I didn’t so much sleep on it as wrestled it, as though the right choice could only be found by changing position every five minutes. I awoke the next morning intending to accept their offer, and as I approached the three season porch, where reception was better, my pocket vibrated. I answered.

“This is imnotme” I said warily to the area code I didn’t recognize.

“Hello, this is Director of Americorps, Santa Barbara. “We have reviewed your application and would like to invite you to serve in our Literacy program.”

My stomach dropped.

Now I had been offered a very good job in my hometown and a very exciting opportunity in a beautiful coastal city in California. It was the most difficult decision I had ever been faced with. There were gains and losses on either side that seemed to be so equal that they canceled each other out. And after 24 grueling hours of back and forth with A. I regretfully declined Santa Barbara my service and accepted my new job. Two months later, yesterday, in fact, A. and I moved to an apartment in an excellent part of town, and are exceedingly happy with where we have wound up in it it all.

 

In a matter of one month our plans had gone from A. getting her own place while I worked to pay off some debt, to moving to Santa Barbara, to moving to Minneapolis, and none of these plans had been laid with anything but resolute purpose and intent. Se La Vid. Or, as my friend once quoted: “Life is what happens while you’re making plans.”




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