No One Is Everything
Relationships are often dismantled in the hopes that we may find what we think is lacking in our current situation in a new one. Part of the problem is wherever you go, there you are. We think the lack is due to something that is missing from our partner, when in fact sometimes it is due to a part of ourselves that is troubling.
I was in one relationship for 36 years that I believed would last till death. I guess I’m one of the rare birds who still believes in commitment. We were married for 28 years. There were a lot of ups and downs over the years, but we held fast through thick and thin. No marriage is perfect. We had some gaps in terms of having all of our needs met by the other.
My husband was more deeply troubled by the gaps than I was to the point of deciding he was leaving to go in search of having some specific needs met by someone else. I recognized that this was possible in theory, but I believed staying together would ultimately result in the bulk of our needs being met. We were at an impasse in our relationship. There wasn’t any way to make him stay and live without whatever he felt he was going to find out there to make him happy. I was also living with some serious gaps in my physical and emotional needs not being met. I felt he was cold, distant and preoccupied.
It turned out that he was struggling for years with the idea of commitment. I became disabled 13 years into the marriage by way of surviving a debilitating stroke. I made a dramatic, if incomplete, recovery.
Going forward, the pieces I was missing were sex, affection, attention and quality time together. He became disengaged. The pieces he was missing were “someone who could keep up with him”, someone who “resonated” with him and whatever else I couldn’t possibly guess at not being in his head.
We went our separate ways and began seeking relationships that could potentially meet our needs. He right away became intensely involved in a very long distance relationship. I met someone locally. I had a lot of fun. I think he did, too. His long distance thing lasted two years. My local relationship went for a year and a half. After these two affairs ended, we each dated others. I couldn’t help but feel we had wasted a decent, if not perfect, marriage. My sex life was better, but that’s only one piece of the pie. It is important. Sometimes I question if that is what it always boils down to in the end.
After over two years of dating around, we have each settled into serious, several months long relationships. Physical and emotional needs are being met, but not all of them. I’m guessing this is true for my husband, but again, I’m not in his head. Having gotten a taste of what I was missing when we were together has now ended my struggle with the idea of reconciling. I don’t see any way now for things to ever be right between us because he very clearly did not and does not want to be with me. That can’t be fixed, and I have learned to let go of thinking I could change that.
I recently went to a destination spa resort with my boyfriend for my birthday weekend. Over the course of two days, I was repeatedly struck with an awareness of the quality of being with someone who so clearly wants to be with me.
I felt the urgent heat from him as soon as we checked into our room. There was so much to do at the spa that I put him off until we had taken advantage of some of the amenities. Still, I made a mental note acknowledging how good it felt to be wanted. It also felt great to spend time with someone who liked to hold my spastic left hand while walking alongside me at my slow, limping pace. He let me know that it was his pleasure to “be at my service”. I am very physically needy because the left half of my body is impaired. He is happy to help by carrying things for me, holding doors, helping me get dressed (and undressed!), and generally doing whatever I am struggling to do on my own.
All of this was in stark contrast to the years spent with my selfish, impatient husband who didn’t want to be with me.
I was repeatedly struck by all of the large and small ways I was having my needs met by this new relationship. I recognize that people may just be on their best behavior in early phases of a relationship, and some men in particular may simply behave in ways that will ensure they get laid. I didn’t feel that either was the case over this weekend.
As I was excited to note that I was with someone who made me feel wanted, had the patience to move at my pace, was passionately drawn to me and very sexually satisfying, was genuinely interested in what I had to say and shared laughter, I had to wonder if my husband was as thrilled at having found someone who has a toned tummy and can walk at a normal pace. I suppose there must be more to it for him, but on the surface these were the major missing pieces in our relationship that prompted him to set out in search of something that would better meet his needs. I’m certain I’m oversimplifying things, but these were my thoughts.
It is my opinion that whenever we go searching, we will find pieces of what we need, but no one can ever be everything we think we need.