I’ll start with the easy bit. Where we’re heading. Because, actually, that’s how I know that my man is the one who I want to marry. I know that we’re both heading towards the same final destination*. Forget the slightly unusual sense of humour, forget the physical attraction (both of which I am very lucky to say my man has plenty of). To me, knowing that we both are aiming for the same point, way ahead in the future is THE most important element in our partnership.
It’s all very well both being happy with what you have now, but the way I see it is this. We are set on a pair of tracks (imagine some train tracks if you will). Now – if we’re both heading for the same point, we can always go hand in hand along these tracks knowing that EVENTUALLY, however long it takes, and how many stations we have to stop off at along the way, we both still have the same desire to get to this point. However, if you don’t have the same one point that you’re aiming towards, and you’re both aiming for separate things, one of two things will happen.
Either the tracks will cross, or the tracks will go their separate ways. If your tracks cross, you’re going to have trouble, because tracks crossing will lead to a collision. Like two rams butting heads, only one of you can win here. One of you will be pushed into either compromising and accepting the other person’s final destination, or having to make the decision that actually, what you want is too different, and you’ll head off into the wild on your own. Not good.
When the tracks go their separate ways, it’s often less noticeable to begin with, because there is no major collision, no defining moment when the team butt heads and force the other into following them. In this case, you can be innocently chugging along, and suddenly notice that, hey, my partner’s** not here. And you look around, and realise that the last time you really saw them, was actually quite a while ago now. And maybe there’s still time to trace back to where you came from and (hoping that your partner has done the same), talk it through and make the decision together as to which route you’re going to take. Or it could be too late to do that, too much distance may have been put between you, and you’ll have to make the decision to carry on on your own path, and with any luck, meet someone else who IS going your way, and hell, is willing to carry your bag for you too. ***
Before you all shout me down and tell me that your direction can change at any time, I totally agree. I agree that you can change in your career direction, I agree that you can change in how much you like to go out/stay in. I agree that you can change in whether you want a cat or not. And in those cases, your partner should be there to support you, look at the map and work out how to change the route slightly.
What I’m talking about are the major things in life. The children issue. The old age issue. The lifestyle issue. You might have an image in your head of ageing gracefully in your little cottage in the countryside, a couple of dogs, and a studio for your painting. If your partner is up for a little cottage too, prefers cats, but doesn’t mind dogs, and would like to live near the sea, with a little bit of compromise, you’re sorted. That’s where you’re heading. That’s what your journey is all about (of course, you should be enjoying the journey too, but even when you’re not enjoying it, and it feels like you’re going to derail, you can both work to keep each other aiming towards that little country cottage). However, if one of you is not thinking about the cottage, but an early retirement and then living it up drinking G and T’s on your yacht in the Caribbean, you have issues (plus, you better get working hard because last time I heard, yachts aren’t cheap).
Similarly if one of you can see yourself with a mini football/volleyball/insert your chosen sport here, brood of little baby yous, and the other is planning a life of debauchery and bacchanalian parties every weekend, you have issues. I know these examples are hyperbole, but to me they demonstrate my point.
On a smaller scale, I had a friend who loved her boyfriend very much, and they generally made each other happy (he was hilarious which helped). The problem was though, that they were aiming in different directions. My friend (lets call her Jess) really does want the country cottage garden, and the studio to paint in. Her boyfriend, (ummm….lets call him….ummm…Tom) didn’t want anything as much as a yacht, but he did like executive new builds, and clothes and shiny things. They were fine and dandy for just over 5 years, each assuming that it really didn’t matter that the other wasn’t interested in quite the same things as the other, because they were both good, caring, amusing people, who loved each other and would support one another. What more could you want. And then one summer, they realised they’d not spent a weekend together in a long time. He’d been shopping with his daughter, or out with his friends in their nice cars, whilst she’d been at home pottering in the garden, walking their dogs, decorating the house. And they started to argue about who should change their weekends to spend more time with the other person. And they then realised that their tracks had gone their separate ways. They just weren’t working towards the same shared goal anymore. And for them, it was too late to go back, and actually, neither of them really wanted to change themselves and their future that much. And so it ended, which was sad, and hard, and heart wrenching. But you know what, Jess carried on on her own path, and Tom carried on on his. And now they both have people to share their pathways who genuinely want to go that way to. Jess is tomorrow (I know, tomorrow! Exciting!) moving in with someone who I know is working towards the same final destination as Jess is. My love and hopes are with them this weekend (I’m just lucky I live far enough away to avoid being roped in to help with the moving. They have A LOT of stuff).
So, I seem to have written a more intense post than I meant to, when all I really wanted to say is that me and my man are definitely wandering along, hand in hand aiming towards the same point in life. I won’t go into what that is right now, because, well, this post is long enough already. And I know it will be hard, and I know that some days we might feel like we’ve lost sight of where we’re going, or taken a wrong turning, but I know that my man will be there with me helping me and making sure I don’t get lost (even thought I’m better with maps than he is), and making sure that wherever he goes, I go along too.
But I’m interested – do you believe that I’m right, or do you think that you can change someone along the way? Do you think that Jess and Tom could have made it work if they’d have just loved each other more? Do you think that the here and now is more important than the then and there of the future?
* No not the film about people dying horrible deaths because they should have died when the airplane/bus/yacht they were travelling on exploded/crashed/sank – the final destination of you as a person, you as a couple. Where you see yourselves in 40 years from now.
**I generally don’t like to use the term partner – it sounds too….legal…to me (but each to their own, you can call them your squidgymonster if that’s what suits you). Here though I’m trying to get across the fact that we really are partners in a team. In fact, we’re both member of a team, because both will have different roles throughout the lifetime of the relationship, at times equal, and at times one will, out of necessity, be more dominant than the other. So from now on I’m going to call them (our partner, husband, wife, fiancé, whatever you call them) a Team Member, or a TM when my hands get too tired to type.
*** Or who is willing to share the bags, so that when you’re tired, they’ll carry the bags, and later, when they’re tired too, you’ll take the load off their shoulders and keep them going. Even if the bags are really heavy because they’re full of shoes and sparkly things.