I’ve had a lot of time for reflection recently, and I’ve wonder how my marriage could have turned out differently if I had really known myself at the outset. Of course, hindisght is, as they say, 20/20. But I got married fairly young, and I’m a different person than I was then (although many of my core values remain the same).
The ancient Greek philosophers said that you should “know thyself” and I can see how that might help turn you into a better life partner.
Self-Initimacy: Are You In Touch With Your Feelings?
Recently, I read an article on Psychology Today about the importance of self-intimacy. The article addressed being in touch with your feelings, and being able to share them with your partner. I know that there have been times that I haven’t exactly paid attention to my own feelings, or been able to adequately express my feelings. I also had to work hard to learn how to better handle conflict.
Unfortunately, all the work I did to become better with my feelings and learn to handle them and express them better didn’t work out. By the time I moved into a healthier, more self-aware space, it was too late and my husband had already decided that the relationship needed to change.
It will probably be some time before I feel like I can enter a serious partnership type relationship again, but when I do, I think that knowing myself better and having practice at expressing myself will help make me a better partner, and probably result in a better relationship.
Knowing yourself and being able to express yourself cuts through the mind games and questions that can ruin a relationship, and it results in confident, meaningful interactions.
Do You Know What You REALLY Value?
Because I married young, I didn’t have time to really think about what I truly valued in life. My ex-husband and I also married relatively quickly after meeting — it was a little more than three months from our first interaction to saying our “I dos.”
We didn’t really have time to talk about differences in our values and what matters to us. It soon became evident that we use money differently and that there are other fundamental differences. On the surface, we meshed well in terms of political and religious values, but there were other issues. Because we married young, neither of us really had time to develop our values in a meaningful way. It became clear as the marriage progressed that we had different ideas of how we wanted to spend our later years. As we grew and developed and learned more about ourselves, we became less compatible.
Understanding yourself and having a clear idea of who you are and what you want can help you figure out what really matters in a partner, and help you discuss these things before you get too far down the road. When you know what you want and who you are, it makes you a better partner because you don’t have to try to mold yourself.
When both of you can be who you are, and work toward shared goals, it fosters unity and allows you to help each other reach your goals. That teamwork is essential to a good relationship.
Work On Yourself First
Finally, when you know your own weaknesses, you can work on them. Rather than trying to “fix” a potential partner, you can work on becoming a person you like and would want to be with. Coming to the relationship as a whole and happy person makes things easier. Additionally, one hopes that you are looking for a partner who is also a whole and happy person.
When you are both at the same stage of life, and looking for similar things, it makes things much smoother, and you have a more comfortable relationship. While you don’t need to be perfect (none of us are!), the fact that you are working toward self-improvement and looking for a partner on the journey — not someone to mold — can make you a better, more loving partner. Knowing yourself is a big part of that.
I know I have a lot to think about and to work on moving forward, and I’m not sure when I’ll be ready for another long-term relationship. But I think that I can be a better partner the next time around simply because I know myself much better than I did when I married almost 14 years ago.