There was a time when I expected Beloved to know what I needed and to provide it.
There were multiple problems with that approach. First, I’ve come to learn that expectations are the cause of much suffering. When I reduce my expectations, most of my suffering and disappointments simply vanish! It is amazingly simple, but not always easy to remember to do it.
Another BIG problem with expecting Beloved to know what I needed and to provide it is that I DIDN”T REALLY KNOW WHAT I NEEDED.
Worse, I DIDN”T KNOW THAT I DIDN”T KNOW WHAT I NEEDED!
So how in the world was she supposed to know and give it to me?
I eventually realized that I had a problem. I sat down that day and really thought about what was absolutely critical to me and what was merely preferred.
That was much harder than I thought it would be. It took a quite a while to truly understand that which I could not be happy without.
As it turns out, the list was remarkably short. For example, I learned that while I needed some inviolable “Man Space” I really didn’t much care what color the house was painted, what furniture we got, how the yard was landscaped (except my small redwood grove and fern garden), etc.
I was happy to let Beloved decide on all those other things if she wanted to—-and she WAS happy to do so. I realized that I was happy to let her make the call on probably 95% of all things and all decisions if she wanted. I was running a business and had to make decisions all day so it was nice to have someone who handled most of the decisions at home.
I also quickly realized that while my list of critical needs was very short I would not be happy unless all of them were met.
It wasn’t about what Beloved or anyone else would do or not do, but whether my needs were being met.
I began to understand that all but one of my critical needs were being met, but the one that wasn’t would be terribly corrosive to my happiness and to our marriage. I was faced with a difficult choice and knew that that my marriage was at stake. But I knew that if I wasn’t happy it would only be a matter of time before Beloved would be unhappy too and our marriage would likely fail.
So I told Beloved about the critical need was not being met said that I was happy with our marriage in all other ways, and that strongly preferred to stay married to her, but felt I only had three options at that point. I outlined the three options and she agreed that they were the only ones I had.
I gave to her the choice as to which option she’d prefer, as each would have a major impact on our relationship and on her.
She made a choice and a commitment, which she has kept ever since.
I’m very grateful to her for both her choice and her commitment.
I’ve been happy with our marriage ever since, and we’ll have been married 33 years on October 6th.