Sometimes I do not want to be the best partner I can be, know what I mean? There are days when I just want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it and I don’t want to consult anyone else.
I’d like to sleep in the middle of the bed, leave wet towels on the bathroom floor, stay on my computer till late at night, and not have to listen after I ask, “How was your day?” But if I want my marriage to last past the 10 year anniversary we just had, I’d better think again.
When I told my husband we were doing “Be the Best Partner You Can Be“ Week, he thought it was funny and wanted to know what I was going to be doing for him this week. (You can imagine what he suggested…)
I truly believe that the only way to be your best for someone else is to start by being the best for yourself, and this theory is not always met with understanding. For me, that means doing things that I know keep me in good mental, physical and spiritual health. All of the above take time, and taking time for oneself can be a guilt-filled negotiation with those who depend on us and worst of all, ourselves.
It has taken me years to not ask for permission, as I am very clear that not taking the time to keep myself balanced is a disaster waiting to happen, so no matter what, I do it. For me, that looks like time out of the house, away from my kids, my husband, my mobile devices – time alone in nature or at my favorite Korean spa or anything which makes me feel like I’m in another country. I’m another woman, not a mother, wife and colleague – just for an hour.
Somehow, this recharges my spirit and gets me excited to go home, listen to my 5-year-old twins tell me funny school stories and to my husband talk about whoever was on Howard Stern today. Once I have myself somewhat (not PERFECTLY) in balance, then I actually have something to give to my partner. In my case, it goes a long way if I do something that he likes to do that I don’t. For instance, going to see a comedy show proceeded by visiting a burger spot. Not my idea of a fun time – I’d rather eat some macrobiotic food and read HelloGiggles on my iPad.
But if I can swing that once in a blue moon, it really is like money in the bank. Then, of course, there is the “being thoughtful, kind and considerate” piece. Hmm, I’m having a tough time with this part lately, as I am insanely tired and low on patience. But in trying to treat others how I want to be treated, I am not ashamed to take A LOT of self inflicted time-outs so I don’t overreact and make it all worse.
I am a firm believer of a life based in service – it has worked for me, and continues to help me not tip into self-obsession. If I can remember to be of service to my partner, just once a day, I consider that a successful day. Every day, I try to remember I am a partner to someone. It could be a work partner, another parent I have a school commitment to, a friend who is having a rough time or my husband .
Learning to be one part of a partnership, not both parts, isn’t always easy. The upside is that by nature, women are multi-taskers (and thank God) – otherwise, nothing in my home would get done. The downside is that being really capable and efficient can leave the other person feeling less needed, valuable and not included in the partnership.
Ask anyone who knows me and they will say I don’t work well in a group. It’s true, I don’t, but I’m learning!
What would you say are the key qualities to being the best partner you can be?