Monday, September 22, 2014

The Conversation Every Couple Needs To Have

The Conversation Every Couple Needs To Have - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
"What's your passion?" he asked me. "You aren't allowed to say family or your work.  What are five other things you're passionate about." 

We were driving somewhere, that yellow lined highway dashing by and my head spinning circles with the question out of nowhere.  Because really it's a question of Who Am I? Stripped down to the core. What makes me tick? What stirs my blood into a fury of passionate pursuit?

He'd listened to an interview on CBC, a man who posed this question and it had stirred something in him.  "It's hard, isn't it?" And it was because society dictates and expects your response to be family and career - that's what every good Canadian would say.  So he modified the rules to make it a little easier.  "Okay...how about three things? Just name three things."

I sat with it for a moment, looking internally for that piece of me that held tight to my self-formed fervency. And then I had it - because really, once you look, it was obvious all along.  "Writing, music, and my home."

He nodded like he already knew.

"And you?" I turned it back on him but he'd already had time to think about it.

"Music, pool, and poker."

And that right there - that simple conversation - that changed everything.

I've heard it said that a girl marries a man like her own father but it didn't take very long from the moment we said "I do" until I realized that he was nothing like my daddy. I had this image of what a husband looked like and it was rather calm and dorky and always around. I was unprepared for anything different.

I married an extrovert. He had loads of love for me but he also had a life beyond me that I had no interest in and so the early days of our marriage were very lonely.  I was so young.  And while he was out with his friends or his band or his pool team I'd be back in our tiny apartment, hugging my guitar and writing songs about bleeding flowers.

I thought my whole purpose was to be a wife and I was thrilled to be one but I was also lost. Loneliness is a kind of virus that eats you from the inside out and you can only cry so many times before you become jaded and hard.

I've grown tremendously since that time. {I was a teenager, for goodness sake!} It took a lot of patience, a lot of grace, a lot of give and take, and acceptance that he was not my father - would never be my father - and that I wouldn't want him to be like my father. 

And not just on my part. We've both had to change and sacrifice over time. But it's been years and if we'd had the passion conversation earlier it might have saved some grief.

See, what I didn't understand is that all along he was pursuing PASSIONS. It wasn't just hobbies or time with the boys. They were PASSIONS

And his passions hurt me because I misfiled them. I thought Wednesday Night Pool League Night meant 'my friends are way more fun than you and I am choosing to go be with them rather than spending time here with you.

There are times when it's a blessing to be wrong.

I don't want to be misunderstood - there are still times as he kisses me goodbye, that I wish-wish-wish he'd stay home and just be with me BUT my perspective has changed, my resentment has receded {though it still sometimes rears it's ugly head} and, from the very core of me, I find myself hoping for his success - that he would master that great shot or play that song flawlessly.  And isn't that the selfless truth of love? And won't our life and our marriage be better because of it?

The freedom that comes from a conversation that lays bare the truth of your soul is as refreshing as it is frightening. Coming face to face with the reality of what you've been ignoring can be scary. For me, it was the years wasted in not pursuing what I believe I was made to do. And I don't mean lazy pursuit I mean a balls-to-the-wall pursuit. {Meaning the laundry doesn't get done on time and the grass doesn't get cut and maybe you eat chicken fingers or frozen pizza twice in one week BECAUSE NONE OF THAT MATTERS IF YOU'RE DOING WHAT YOU LOVE!}

What would life be but a punching of the clock if we pursued nothing beyond a lazy get up, go to work, feed the kids, go to bed...? We are all gifted with something we are passionate about, at least one pursuit we aim for that gives us purpose beyond our daily rhythm, one goal that keeps us reaching and growing and striving.  Passion builds our humanity.  

Nelson Mandela said, "there is no passion to be found playing small--in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." To that I say, AMEN!

The challenge? Have this conversation with your partner.  Ask them what their passions are beyond work and family and see how that knowledge changes your relationship and pushes you towards your own goals!
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Let's live, shall we?! Let's support our partners in their pursuits and let's lace up our sneakers and chase our own dreams!  Because without passion what are we but a drone?  Be alive! Be free from mediocrity. Do not settle. Be extraordinary! Run the race set out for you!

13 comments :

  1. Heidi EastmanSeptember 22, 2014

    I love this! You're so wise.

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  2. Patricia KellSeptember 22, 2014

    Love reading your stories!

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  3. Beautiful! Written with such thought-provoking eloquence.

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    1. Aw thanks, Michelle! You're always so kind

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  4. Well Said! If these things aren't figured out and accepted when the kids are little, you'll spend your old age just staring at each other.

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    1. And how awful would that be!? It probably happens too often. I'm thankful for to-the-heart-of-the-matter conversations!

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  5. Jenn will read this and we will enjoy talking about it :) Fortunately not all of it is unbroken ground.

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    1. Thanks Mat, I hope it sparks good conversation and I'm glad to hear you're not going into it blind - that's a bonus! And p.s. I'm so excited for your big news and wish you all the happiness in the world!!!

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  6. GAH I needed this today. It's uncanny how much this applies to what I'm feeling right now. Thank you! *cries*

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    1. Aw :( Sorry you're having a tough day but I'm so glad this may have helped a little. It'd be a beautiful thing if we all shared the same passions as our partners and totally understood each other...but maybe a little boring. We are different to be stretched, right?! Good luck as you navigate the frustrations and wonders of married life ((hugs))

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    2. Thanks! It's actually more about work than home - which is probably the nicer of the two to have some tension but still sucky! Aaron and I are doing pretty good. Not to say there won't be stuff later though ;) haha.

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