Many people feel that they have to make sacrifices in order to have a healthy relationship. I disagree. Compromises are necessary. Sacrifices are not. What is the difference? Compromises means you can find a way to feel good about whatever it is you are changing in order to find balance with this person. Sacrifice means you feel you are giving up something you like about yourself or something you truly want for yourself without gaining an equally valuable lesson or improvement out of it. This lesson or improvement is not dependent on another person, it’s something the experience of changing will provide you.
As I mentioned in a recent post, it is important to only compromise that which you are willing to compromise. Any true sacrifice will lead to resentment which will manifest into unpleasant undesired outcomes in the future. The fear of someone leaving or the fear of things not going as you plan is not a sufficient reason to make a compromise. The desire for them to stay and the desire for things to go as you plan is. Can you hear the difference in these two statements? One is based in fear, while the other in love. One is conditional, while the other is not, if it is truly felt.
Let’s say I’m a bit untidy. I don’t mind the idea of being a bit cleaner and tidier for my partner, so I try. I want to make her more comfortable. I tell her to express to me anything she thinks I could do to make her feel more comfortable including chores I could help with and bad habits I could change. She doesn’t love how I sometimes place things randomly around the house or how I leave some non-essential chores to her. I try to help. If she starts DEMANDING me to change my habits, I will tell her politely that I don’t want to hear it. I’m happy to make changes that make her comfortable but only so far as I feel those are positive changes and only so far as I feel I’m doing it of my own free will. Once they start impeding on my creative process, I don’t feel any responsibility to change. There is great value in considering the changes seriously anyway, because perhaps my creative process needs to evolve, but whether I change or not is ultimately up to me. Any DEMANDS she puts on me will feel like impeding on my freedom and will ultimately lead to resentment.
If she can’t deal with it, she is free to leave. I don’t want her to leave so I will do everything I can to find a compromise that does not lead to resentment or impeding on my freedom, and I hope she does the same with any requests I make of her. It all works out ok. If it didn’t for a prolonged period of time, it would probably be for the best if we went our separate ways.
As far as fidelity, I don’t really believe in the concept of “husbands and wives” (although I’m not entirely against the idea of marriage in certain contexts). I want a partner and to me this is what she is, any traditional view of what a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife must be is null and void to me and she understood and agreed with that when we met. The concept of a “partner” however is very important to me, and we work hard to make sure we both feel free and also protect the integrity of our relationship, that strong connection of trust that binds us.
When we make decisions we make them with each other in mind, but we do not stifle our own freedom unquestionably for each other’s comfort. We always find a compromise that doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. She used to join me in planning some events that I held. She made it a whole lot easier for me. Recently, she has expressed that she doesn’t want to take an active role in future events. It hurt a bit, but I respect her decision, despite how it may set me back not having her direct support. I treat it as an opportunity to become stronger and more focused, rather than feeling betrayed by her.
She must have something else that she desires more than to focus on these events and allowing her to focus on what she desires to focus on will allow her to grow into who she wants to become. I can trust that she will make every effort to continue to grow in a way that can compliment my own growth, and that if she doesn’t, it’s best for both of us to go our separate ways, but I don’t anticipate that happening anytime soon.
As far as money and how to live in the world, when I was making enough money to pay for both of us, I told her that she could work or not work as long as she was focused on moving in the direction she wanted to move. She chose not to work and to focus on learning some skills. I told her that if I felt too much pressure taking care of both of us I’d tell her. Later I did tell her and she found some part time work that didn’t interfere with her own artistic pursuits and studies. For about a year she took care of rent while I took care of everything else. Now she’s been offered a full time job where she could learn a lot and potentially take care of both of us, although she hasn’t decided yet.
She’s giving me the same freedom that I gave her because she wants this job and isn’t just working to survive. Meanwhile I am giving myself the same freedom she is giving me to pursue writing as a “career” (as in something that provides a sufficient income for us to travel and live as we’d like to live).
Both of us are free to do as we please so long as we are able to take care of ourselves when the other cannot, and we’d both like to always be able to take care of each other, and hopefully some little ones in the future.
I drink sometimes. She does not. As long as I don’t become belligerent, (I do not) she does not give me any problems about it. I stay out late when I do go out and she only calls to make sure I’m ok or to tell me to pick up some groceries on the way home. She has some habits that are not the healthiest, sleeping little and eating anything and everything. I tell her that I wish she could eat healthier and sometimes make suggestions. I tell her I don’t really want her to get fat but I certainly won’t leave her or stop being attracted to her if she does. I tell her I wish she’d go out sometimes instead of only talking to others on social media and staying home every day, but I don’t get angry if she doesn’t listen. I don’t place any demands on her, ever. When we just leave it at that we get along beautifully.