About five years into marriage, my husband and I were driving down the street together. Our three kids in the backseat (yes, we already had three kids)(because we are nothing if not crazy), I ignored the incessant crying/questions/whining to tell him the story of my friend’s recent engagement.
I gave every last detail. From how her now fiancé set up the proposal to her facial expression when he asked the question.
As I finished the very long, very detailed story, I thought my heart might burst with joy as I remembered the day my sweet husband proposed to me. (Trust me: It will be very important to remember the adjective “sweet” I just used to describe him.)
“You know, I probably only listen to about 25 percent of the words you say,” was the reply my now dead-to-me husband gave in response to my lovely story.
“YOU WHAT?” I asked. Or yelled. I can’t really be sure.
Cool as a cucumber, he went on to tell me that he is a man. And that pesky Y chromosome makes it impossible for him to listen to every word I say because I just give so many details. And he doesn’t do details. And blah, blah, blah.
I probably should have been more upset. But really all I could think of was, “You know what? This is why I have girlfriends. They love knowing every last detail.”
Because, you see, I adore my husband. He is funny. He is fun. He is so awesome. But he is not my everything.
It would be unfair to ask any one person to be your everything. As much as Hollywood would like us to believe that a spouse completes us, the truth is no person can complete you. A spouse can complement you. A spouse can enrich you. But a spouse cannot make you whole.
Becoming a whole person is a different post for a different day. But realizing your spouse cannot be your everything is a lesson that can never be learned too early.
Much like the stock market, there is tremendous value in diversifying your relationships.
My husband will never listen to a story that is twenty-seven minutes long. But my BFF will hang on to every detail, offering important feedback and opinions. Because that is what best friends do. And what husbands never will. (Unless you have the rare husband who loves long conversations. But I certainly do not.)
And yet, not to undervalue my husband, he knows me a in way that no friend ever will. He supports my late night emotional spiraling when the world feels very dark and hard... and then makes breakfast as usual in the morning, having given me the grace to properly emote and then wake up to a fresh start. No questions asked. No judgements passed.
Relationships are the cornerstone of life. They’re the very best part of life and, sometimes, the very hardest part. And one of the greatest gifts we can give to our spouses and children and friends is to have reasonable expectations of who they can be to us. And who they never will.
My opening story had a full circle moment when I realized recently that there are actually several ways people listen, and it is true that my husband listens best when given a broad overview of a story. His brain is wired in such a way that truly cannot follow irrelevant details. Irrelevant to him. Not me, of course.
I know I have written a lot about the leadership class I am taking, but it’s because it has given me a much better understanding of how different we all are... and the value in allowing people to be who they’re made to be. Which proves my original point in that there is much importance in having a variety of relationships.
When a woman says, “My husband is my everything,” I know that ultimately translates to unrealistic expectations that will more often than not go unmet. While it’s a sweet sentiment that sounds romantic, I’ve found that a marriage is healthiest when your husband is not your everything.
Your spouse is definitely your most important relationship. And should be treated as such. But I cannot overstate how relieved he will be when you allow your husband to be who he is. And allow your girlfriends to fill in the blanks. And not expect much from your children because those people are too honest and blunt. I kid, I kid.
Friends on the world wide web, would you agree? Do you think it’s possible for your spouse to be your everything? Or have you experienced the value in a variety of relationships?