Being challenged to find good thoughts about your partner or to thinking the grass is greener in another person's pasture is not gender-specific. It affects both sexes differently; yet, without regard for one's sex. We all want certain things out of our relationships and from our partners. The problem is that sometimes our expectations of our partners are unrealistic. We look to them to "complete us" and that is not their role. Their role is to compliment us. Their role is to love us for who we are and with our reciprocation. There needs to be balance and compromise. That balance doesn't come in the measure of who does more or less, but how each party has a role to play in the relationship. For instance, just because I may be responsible for a whole lot more "jobs" in the household than my partner doesn't necessarily mean that we're out of balance. Maybe part of that is because I have a NEED to do those things and he couldn't care less about doing them unless I wanted him to do them.
As women, I think we can be our own worst enemies. We take on the world and then bitch that no one is helping us do it. No one asked us to take on the world. We never asked for help when we were taking it on; yet, someone--and most unfortunately for them, that someone is usually our partner--is to blame for this overburdening we've now taken upon our shoulders. At some point, we all have to quit blaming and start owning. Once you own the path you have taken, you can change your perspective. You can see how you got there and how to change the path you're on. You can start asking for help and seeing what matters and what doesn't. In the end, communicating our needs comes to the forefront and will be wherein the successful outcome of this conundrum lies!
The thing that gets me is that marriage is a choice. A choice we make and vows we take to love and cherish, to stick around and stand together in the good times and bad, in sickness and in health, and till death do us part. Maybe we forget that these are more than just words. These vows are promises that each of us should be entering into knowingly. Those taking them should be ready to honor their partner and protect their partner's heart. I mean that. Each of us is responsible for truly loving each other. In 1 Corinthian's 13:4-7, Paul explains what real love looks like:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
So, when you want to know if you love someone, ask yourself if this is how you treat that person, speak of that person and want to build up that person. You'll know if he loves you back if the answer to those questions is yes because those things are returned to you by that partner. If the answer is yes, then count yourself blessed to know you are truly loved and truly love another. Love is never perfect since it is coming from each of us--in our imperfect humanity. We all do the best we can with what we have and sometimes WE fail. As Paul points out at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13:8, "LOVE never fails..." That is a very important distinction He is making. LOVE is not imperfect; love is greater than faith and hope. People are imperfect and because we are, our love falters and fails us and in that failure, fails others.
When we quit choosing to see our partners as the special and amazing people they were when we met them, and we start letting all the little things become one big thing that separates us from the love we felt for them, we fail to love. When you allow yourself to be open to sharing yourself intimately or emotionally with someone else when you have a partner, the love you have with your partner could be lost forever. I used to think that it was so silly to worry about men and women being friends with the opposite sex when they're married. In some cases, it's not an issue. The problem is that when things get tough in your marriage, instead of communicating with your partner, sometimes we start sharing our personal issues about our relationship with someone of the opposite sex. This allows this new person to become your hope, your support, and sometimes your truth. This other person may seem new and exciting and uncomplicated compared to what you have waiting for you at home. In the enticement of what can be, one can lose sight of what is.
The grass isn't always greener on that other side, but it is different. And sometimes different feels good. Is it really worth throwing away everything you've built and created and LIVED with the person you made promises to? Is it really worth losing your best friend; the person who knows you more than anyone else? Is it really worth foregoing your forever? I believe that if you are not happy with what you have, deal with that issue. Figure out what the problem is and either work through it or walk away from it. Choose to end your relationship or marriage because it's over and not because you found or pursued someone else while you were already in a relationship. Adding someone else into the mix is never the answer. It's just an escape. It's just a way to not be alone. Sometimes, being alone is just what we need. Sometimes, we need to stop and think about why we feel the way we do. We need to remember that the other person cannot MAKE us feel the way we do. We choose how we feel which may be based on what that person did and how it impacts us--it's a cause and effect situation. In the end, when another person gets put in the mix, there are more hearts to be hurt. Why? Because at some point, a decision gets made and someone doesn't get the outcome for which they'd hoped.
There are reasons to leave a relationship, too. Don't get me wrong. Not everything turns out how you thought it would. Infidelity, abuse, the red flags you ignored early on...life changes each of us in different ways and takes us unexpected places. Sometimes even the best intentions and most seemingly perfectly-suited couples aren't. If you've given it your all and done all you can, that is all you can do. Best wishes to each of us in our pursuit of forever love!