Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Old Patterns Can Change
"I'm not married anymore, but I still ..."
During a conversation last week, I found myself starting a sentence with the above words. It didn't hit me until later what I was actually saying; I'm not married anymore, but my mind still follows the patterns of a married woman at times. Granted, since I was married for 20 years and only divorced for two, the majority of my adult life was lived as one half of a partnership. I was, and still am, an advocate for marriage. While I was married, I viewed that as my most important ministry. As such, I even moderated an online fellowship for married, Christian women. Through networking and researching, I gained insights that were geared toward strengthening marital unions and providing individuals with tools for navigating healthy life partnerships. I subscribed to various newsletters, magazines, blogs, and discussion boards so that I could see different views and flesh out ideas. Which leads to the talk last week where I mentioned that I still participate in these marriage dialogues.
The question I asked myself was, "Why?" I thought I was adjusting to single life, doing me and all that jazz. I say that I have no intentions of getting married again, so I'm not preparing for the future, right? I have come to realize that regardless of what I think I'm doing, old habits die hard. I was used to thinking about my other half when making decisions, so much that I recognized behaviors I continued because of his personal preferences (such as cooking particular foods or keeping my hair a certain length). Because I had a husband, I leaned on him and got used to not exerting myself in certain areas. However, another thing I have realized is that when you are forced to, you can break those old habits and sometimes you find reserves you didn't even know existed. For example, I learned that I can assemble small pieces of furniture, fix minor plumbing issues, kill mice, maintain a workable budget, and take care of other people without neglecting my own well being.
I was also used to thinking of intimate relationships only within the context of marriage, so I held on to these discussion groups out of habit. The good thing is that topics such as communication, trust, respect and responsibility are valid in all relationships, so the conversations are still useful and can be tailored appropriately. Acknowledgement is the first step in any change. Once you recognize that change is needed, make the decision to act. Alas, I have since unsubscribed from the marriage e-mail tips and such so I can focus more on where I am in life right now.