Lately, I have had some wild dreams! Those of you who have known me long enough, know that is nothing new. I stopped worrying about the crazy stuff I dream a long time ago. My dreams still do affect me sometimes though, and last night’s dream surprisingly had a very positive effect on me.
To explain why this dream had a positive effect on me I need to give some background information. Some of these things I have already mentioned and some of these things are more or less new. To an extent, I have struggled in our marriage since Ricardo decided to leave the LDS church, not a huge extent, but some. Ricardo really hasn’t struggled the way I have; he still feels pretty much the same about our relationship as he did before he left the church. But the fact that I am struggling is hard on him too. A lot has changed, or at least it seems like a lot to me. So sometimes I find myself feeling frustrated about unmet ideals, lost dreams, and the ways we are different from each other–most of which are somehow related to Mormonism. And sometimes I find myself dreaming about the other paths my life could have taken.
Well, last night I dreamed about a high school boy who I more or less had a thing for during one summer. When I woke up (way too early…Andrew seems to think sleep is over-rated the last few days) I was still thinking about him, so, well, I did what anyone would do, right? I Facebook stalked him. And it seems like he is doing really well! Which made me happy. In the course of my Facebook stalking I realized a few things about him (and then, in turn, about myself). He is a really adventurous person…and I am definitely not. He likes to do stunts on snowmobiles, and I remember many occasions where he came to school injured in one way or another. I used to think that he was just young and irresponsible and that some day he was going to figure out how crazy he was doing such scary things and eventually grow up and stop. Well, guess what? He is still doing it even though he is now married and more settled down. And his wife is very adventurous too! I think thrill-seeking is just a part of his personality, a part of who he is. Just like physically cautious is just a part of who I am (just ask any of my high school friends who tried to get me to go bouldering or caving :P). Realizing how great it was that he ended up with someone who similarly craves the adrenaline rush and I ended up with someone who also relishes a nice cautious, safe life, was a great “ah hah” moment for me.
Several more “light bulb” moments happened as I examined his life through the Facebook lens. It all just helped remind me of something I really should know by now: I married my wonderful husband for some really great reasons, and we are alike in some important ways. Both of us find amusement parks to be about our threshold of adventurous. We both express love in a similar way. We have a similar idea about how our kids should be disciplined (at least I think we do, we’ll have to see I suppose ;)). There are lots of things on this list, and some of these similarities are really important, and they are the things that still make our marriage really solid.
Then I started thinking about the things that drive me a little crazy about Ricardo, and the holes I feel exist in our marriage. Kind of like I thought this high school crush was going to grow out of doing life-threatening stunts, I kind of figured Ricardo was going to grow out of his obsession with movies and gaming a little bit…not totally, but I figured he would gradually become more like me and more like the Mormon church said he should be. HAHA! I couldn’t have been more wrong. And that, my friends, is probably the single thing I have gotten on his case about the most during our marriage. But you know what? Movies and gaming are just a part of who he is, not just a hobby, but his personality, and it has just taken me a long time to realize that and start being okay with that.
So what else have I been frustrated about? Well, we watch lots of TV and movies and we rarely get outside and walk, hike, jog, or snowshoe (though recently we have been walking lots since his schedule changed :)). I don’t sing or participate in music any more. We aren’t very social. The list goes on and on….
And before I get too far in my pity party, I had a realization today. I don’t know WHY on earth it took me 5 years of marriage to finally realize this, but it did! I can find ways to fulfill myself outside of my marriage.
Wow, it took me 5 years to figure that out, five years!
Don’t ask me why I have been thinking that my marriage was supposed to provide everything I needed in life, but I guess I kind of was thinking that. I never sing anymore. Whose fault is that? Ricardo would have been perfectly happy if I had been in a choir all these years. I don’t have to watch TV all the time just because he loves it. I could go outside and jog while he does his thing. I can do the things that are important parts of who I am, even if my husband doesn’t want to join me. In fact, I can find other people who like the same things and they can join me sometimes!
What a revelation! LOL, It’s ridiculous that never clicked for me before.
I guess when we first were married I just wanted to be with him constantly, so I wanted to do everything together. So, when he didn’t want to do the stuff I did I just settled for watching TV shows that I liked–even if it was WAY too much TV for me, and I was missing a whole bunch of other stuff that I love in life. He never forced this on me, but I just figured marriage was about compromising, and settling for watching the shows I thought I could handle, rather than the ones he wanted to watch, sounded like a pretty good compromise…Then, of course, I resented him for how much time we spent watching TV.
I suppose another factor is that my home growing up provided most of what I needed, and school and church provided the rest, so I just never had to try very hard to find things that were fulfilling. I love to learn, well, school provided lots of that. I love music, and school and my home were great venues for that as well. My family is where I was raised so all the Mormon-y stuff I love pretty much came from there, so I didn’t have to look far for any of that either; and in case I was feeling a little empty on my spiritual bucket, seminary, mutual, scripture study, and 3+ hours of church a week had me covered (and that may sound sarcastic, but I honestly loved all that, and I still kinda do).
Then I got married, and somehow I just kept expecting that all of my needs were going to be met naturally, mostly through my husband who now was going to fill the role my birth family had…Then when that didn’t really work (shocker, right, that my husband couldn’t fill those expectations) I kind of just let go of a bunch of important hobbies and, really, I let go of some important personality traits. The result was that I felt empty in lots of ways, though my life was so much fuller overall, thanks to the love and companionship of my spouse. But that emptiness never went away, it just was overshadowed by a marriage that was in most ways incredibly fulfilling.
But then as Ricardo left the church, our differences grew significantly (in my eyes, at least), and all the sudden the stuff we were arguing about was massively more important to me than the petty arguments we had been having our first three years of marriage. To add to that, I no longer was getting any of the Mormon-y stuff I needed from my home life.
It was like the hole I was feeling in our marriage doubled in size, the strain in our marriage doubled as well, and yet I still kept expecting that my marriage was somehow going to meet all my needs.
And finally today, I just realized that my marriage is wonderful to me in so many ways, but it doesn’t have to be everything. It really is okay for me to head out of our house to find fulfillment in the areas that my marriage doesn’t provide. Ricardo has been setting an example for me this whole time of someone who knows the things that are important to him and he makes sure he holds onto those things. It’s time for me to do the same. It’s time for me to figure out who I am again and make sure that I hold onto the things that make me tick. It’s time to stop blaming my husband for the holes in my life–they’re my holes and I need to fill them myself 🙂
Now…where to start?