This post has been published on mycity4kids with 12000+ views, you can find the piece at https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/live-love-think-askwhy/article/how-my-relationship-taught-me-to-be-single .
It has also been published at Women’s Web at the link http://www.womensweb.in/2017/03/have-fun-alone-loving-relationship/
Come Valentines Day and everyone around me is talking of togetherness and being grateful for it. I on the other hand have something very different to be grateful for. I am grateful that my relationship made me rediscover the ‘ME’ that was getting lost in the chaos of ‘WE’. Confused? Read on to know my story ?
Like most girl friends/wives, I too was once intent on spending all possible free time with my then boyfriend and now husband. My life revolved around going for movies with him, eating out with him, and all those moments when we weren’t physically together were spent on the phone with him. Of course, as is always the case in the glorious beginning of any relationship, he too enjoyed it. But this beautiful phase? It has a shelf life..an expiry date. And when that day came, I didn’t know how to get my head around it. Nothing drastic changed ofcourse, but sometimes he would be too tired from work to meet up, or maybe he didn’t want to watch the movie that I had been looking forward to for months, or that he felt I should go by myself to do some shopping as he wouldn’t know what to do…I guess the regular stuff we hear all guys say. Afterall, slowly, when the novelty of fresh love wears off, you are shuffled up and down in the priority list. And that’s when I realized that for each NO from his side, I told myself a NO too. If he didn’t want to come shopping, I cancelled the plan altogether. If he didn’t want to watch some movie, I ditched it and watched the movie that he wanted to. This would have gone on and on….But I got lucky. I got unhappy.
I relied so much on HIM for my happiness that I ended up making myself sad. I was lucky my boyfriend didn’t relent. My tears and pleas of “I just want your company” couldn’t move him and he would cold-heartedly(that’s how it seemed to me then) say “Learn to be independent. Do things yourself” and I would just resent him all the more for it. And one day, when this resentment and anger and sorrow boiled over, I decided it was time I taught him a lesson. I dressed up in my best, went shopping all by myself to the biggest mall and splurged all I could…I was doing it to avenge my insult at the hands of an ungrateful boyfriend by showing him I COULD find happiness even without him.
And that’s when it struck me. I COULD FIND HAPPINESS EVEN WITHOUT HIM.
I felt relieved. I felt like I had broken free and enjoyed myself and my heart was soaring. I felt like there was no stopping me! Such a melodramatic reaction to something so minor, you would say. But that was the day I discovered myself. And guess what, when I met him that evening, I was in a great mood, he was overjoyed that I had had a great time, I showed him all my purchases and he said I looked wonderful in all of them, and our time was spent with so much love, with no place for anger and resentment, that it was truly refreshing!
That was the day I realized, how wrong it was of me to burden someone else, even if he were my life partner, with the job of making my life happy. Why did I expect him to keep my happiness over his own all the time? If he wanted to watch cricket, why did I expect him to watch Friends with me because that’s what I wanted? If he wanted to take rest on a weekend, why did I force him to go out just because I wanted to? And in this whole process what was I achieving? Not only was I making him unhappy, more importantly, I was making myself unhappy too! Instead of enjoying whatever things we could do together, I was only bitter thinking of all those things I couldn’t do because he didn’t come along!
I also realized that if this went on, I would always look for a shoulder for support. If not my partner, my best friend, or maybe my siblings or even my children in the future…I would always expect the important people in my life to make me happy.
That was the day I turned my life around. I decided once and for all that I would take charge of my happiness.
Today, if my husband is busy at work and I badly want to get out, I go for a movie, order a full bucket of popcorn and my favourite drink and laugh my heart out. I must admit, I do cheat, in that I generally go for those movies alone that he anyway wouldn’t have watched. But that lets me have his company in other movies that he likes to watch too! On weekends, when he’s busy catching up with news and sports and other things on TV that I just don’t watch, I sit back with a book and read to my heart’s content! We both have friends we spend alone time with and at the same time we have common friends who we meet up with together. I spend hours on creative things I love to do…making something artistic or cooking…something I used to disregard earlier because that was ‘time away from HIM’.
And then when we are done doing things in our own space, we enjoy doing things together even more. The dinner together becomes much more interesting because we have stories to share of our lives apart.
The new found space we discovered in our relationship helped us make time for our own lives. I could now do things like going to a cake class or learning dance GUILT FREE knowing that he was having a good time too in whatever he was doing. The immense joy I feel in doing all these things I am passionate about percolates down to our relationship. A cheery happy wife is all my husband needs to be happy too ? And in this process, our love and respect for each other grew by leaps and bounds.
The day we stop burdening our relationships with expectations, each little thing becomes a pleasant surprise to be cherished!
That day when I set out to teach my boyfriend a lesson, the universe taught me one. That my happiness was in my hands and nobody else’s. That when I stop drawing happiness from those around me, and create my own, I will be at peace with myself. This knowledge has opened up gates of freedom I had never dared cross! And today, our relationship has the space to breathe openly and fearlessly, nurturing the seeds we had planted, of togetherness!