Looking back 10 years, I’ve realized that I’ve hardly changed at all, but my outlook on life and my attitude has. When I consider what’s brought about these dramatic changes from my 20s to my 30s, I see one common denominator. My second, and current, and hopefully last husband.
To him, these lessons are normal, he’s grown up believing each one which is, of course, a homage to his parents. I do think there are others who could benefit from the life lessons he’s taught me.
1. Disagreements Aren’t Offensive
I used to think that if I disagreed with a person that I was, in essence, starting an argument. Unless I particularly wanted to air my views, which I did in quite a few corker blowouts, I would plod through life simply nodding along. When my husband first disagreed with me, I thought he was being insulting. He wasn’t, he just had a different opinion and wanted to be honest about it.
It’s taken a while, but it is refreshing to be able to disagree and then try and find a middle ground. I’ve also accepted that there are some areas of life we’ll never agree on and that’s okay.
2. Life Is Exciting Without Drama
I grew up surrounded by people who loved drama. They would embellish stories for entertainment and thrive off another’s crisis. Along with this, in my first marriage I’d become used to the roller coaster of emotions on a day to day basis. I naively thought this was excitement, that without it life would be dull. The drama would stop me having to think for long periods of time and sometimes there was good within the bad.
My husband taught me that life doesn’t need drama to be exciting. I don’t need to be exciting to be interesting. Every day is its own reward and the simple pleasures of watching the kids grow up and sharing time together are more than enough.
3. We All Deserve to be Happy
I used to believe that I didn’t deserve to be happy. I’d made many mistakes growing up and the abuse and heartache I suffered was my just desserts. I actually felt comfortable dealing with problems as it felt right somehow, and when happiness was offered I kept looking for the catch. I even developed panic attacks as I awaited the crisis that would inevitably occur. My husband had a very uneventful childhood and taught me that everyone deserves to be happy, but more than that, he showed me that it can, in some circumstances, be achieved simply by believing you do deserve it.
4. If it Makes You Uncomfortable, You Don’t Have to Do It
I’ve always been a people pleaser. I would always put others first while sacrificing my own happiness. My husband has made realize that my happiness is worth just as much as those in our social circle.
Now, if I feel a situation will make me uncomfortable I simply say no. My time off is precious and I love spending it with my family, life’s too short for pretense, I don’t care how boring that makes me.
5. Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
In my first marriage, I saved for plastic surgery. I always felt ugly and old (at 26) compared to glamorous women on the TV. When my husband moved in I prepared myself for those negative feelings to return with gusto. It didn’t happen and now six years later, I can agree about gorgeous looking women, without worrying that my husband is looking out for the greener grass on the other side of the fence. As he says, “I can appreciate someone’s beauty but that’s all it is, it doesn’t go deeper than that as I’ve no need for it to.”
6. Jealousy Is a Selfish Emotion
I used to think jealousy was a sign of love. If someone was jealous, they were afraid of losing me. Eventually though, his jealousy in some relationships suffocated me and I’d be afraid to have eye contact with the postman. My current husband showed me that jealousy is a selfish emotion. Just because you feel it, it doesn’t mean you have to act on it, in fact, if you do, it can damage the trust between you. I know my husband occasionally feels jealous but he rarely shows it, as he believes this is his problem and I shouldn’t suffer for it.
I used to think that making a partner jealous was a good trick for keeping them on their toes. I only tried it with my husband once, and when he said, “I don’t understand why you’d want to hurt me like that if you love me,” I quickly stopped the silly games, feeling quite ashamed!
7. Surround Yourself With People Worthy of You
I had many friends who would take advantage of the good nature I used to have. I spent a lot of time just doing favor after favor and I thought that this was friendship. I was lonely and craved adult company. These friends started to resent me as my career took off, and the requests for hand-outs became bigger. I felt guilty that I earned more than them, and often left myself broke. Then a person I met online told me that I didn’t deserve this treatment. Like withdrawal from a drug, as soon as I cleaned my life of the bad, good would follow. That’s what I did and although I lost those friends, I met my husband and I’ve never spent time with those who take advantage in any way since.
I think, in summary, my husband has simply shown me how to grow up!
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