(Significant OTHER) How to Blossom with –or without!– a Partner’s Blessing

OTHER

When the TV show “Thirty Something” came out, I was living in Europe. So I missed it entirely. But recently, a friend of mine gave me the DVD set to the show’s first season, and I started to watch it.  Wow. 

 

Whether you’re a fan of the show or not, they really nailed some of the issues that can come up for a (white, middle class, heterosexual!) couple once kids enter the picture!

 

I certainly could relate to many of the themes addressed in this T.V. drama, and I recognize many of the themes in my clients’ lives as well.  How often we partners feel like ships passing in the night, constantly taking shifts, bartering free time for responsibilities!  

 

I remember some good friends of mine, the parents of twins, who used to fight over who got to clean the bathroom!  For a while there, scrubbing the toilet was much more desirable than having to be with the kids.

 

And how many of us feel like as much as we love our partners, at some level, they just don’t get an essential aspect of our experience.  Or, for whatever reason, they just can’t seem to see and appreciate all that we do — for them, for our kids, for our family. 

 

Or, they don’t fully appreciate all that we’ve sacrificed, let go of or put on hold, in order to show up so fully for the family. A lot of the time, we don’t even want things to be that different than how they are.  We’re glad about our choices, and know that the love we feel for our kids and family far outweighs any sacrifices we may have made. 

 

Sometimes all we need from our partner is a sincere “Thank you.”  Or a “I’m sorry, honey. What can I do to support you now?”

 

But when each partner of a parenting couple is feeling drained, overworked and/or underappreciated, “thank you’s” and “How can I help’s?” can be hard to come by.  And when there’s an emotional or energetic deficit in the family, we can have people crawling all over us, and still feel a deep loneliness.  An invisibility.  A painful sense of hopelessness.

 

Creating the space for true Personal Blossoming becomes even harder during these times of strife.  When survival takes over in a relationship, mutual support, enthusiasm and co-creativity get thrown to the side of the curb.

 

And this is the thing… 

When someone’s really on their “blossoming edge,” they need A LOT of support.

 

This is because blossoming takes courage.  A huge amount of courage. 

 

It requires a willingness to do something we haven’t done before (or in a long while), a willingness to take a risk, to believe in ourselves, to take our longlost dreams and longings seriously.  When we’re on the verge of blossoming, we’re usually breaking through old, paralyzing fears.  

 

And when we’re moms, one of our biggest fears is that somehow our own blossoming will diminish or hurt our relationships, relationships which we cherish so deeply.  

 

So more than ever, we need to know that our partners are with us.  It’s not enough for them to be not against us.  We need them to have our backs, to believe in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves.  We need to know that our relationships can be resilient & thrive in the face of change… in the face of our changing, of our becoming even more of who we are… even if it takes some time (often more time than feels comfortable!) for our paths of purpose to become clear. 

 

We need to know that if we let go a little, that our partners will step up and hold some of the responsibilities that we’ve been carrying up until now, so that we can spread our wings and not worry about the nest tumbling & crashing to the ground when we do. 

 

But to do that, to provide us with that kind of support, our partners need to feel supported too.  They need to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their devotion and contribution. They need to be respected for who they are, for doing things their way, even if their way may be different from our own.  

 

They also need the kind of surplus that thrives outside of survival fear/self-defense territory. And they need to feel prioritized. We’re not the only ones who have the fear that our blossoming might wipe out our relationships.

 

There is no easy answer here.  Relationships, like parenting, like blossoming, are practices in their own right.  And sometimes we have to choose our own blossoming, without our partner’s blessing… or without a partner at all!  

 

That said, I invite you to begin a little relational exploration, to see how you and your partner are doing, and perhaps to see what areas of your relationship are most in need of care and attention. 

 

If you could use a resource, I invite you to contact me too.  I’ve worked with many couples over the years, and also know of wonderful counselors who do the same.

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