Saturday, October 09, 2010

Collective Wisdom

Marriage to DB brought home a few painful realizations for me. After all (I think) I went through after my previous marriage came undone leaving with no option but to leave with a three month old baby, I mistakenly believed that my job (this time around) was done when I found the right man. As much as DB is the right man for me, it turns out that the relationship still takes a lot of work to nurture and keep healthy. I realize that I was not "owed" a low maintenance and zero effort marriage because of anything I suffered in the past.
It took at least a few months to even come to this understanding though making peace with it is quite another matter. Then there was the question "What next ?". The most reasonable approach might seem to seek some counseling, try and resolve my resistance to the smallest change in my former way of life, my unreasonable phobia of confrontation and finally my tendency to take an all or nothing stance on things were a more modulated, middle of the road position may be more productive. 
Even before we got married, DB had suggested we get some counseling together being that we come into this relationship with considerable baggage from the past. I scoffed at the idea. In my mind, if two otherwise competent adults need external intervention to help resolve their relationship issues, they have abdicated control over their collective destiny. Why would it be impossible to analyze and discuss the issues at hand and come up with a remedy if both parties were invested in finding a solution ? DB let it slide and only now am I beginning to realize the merits of what he had suggested. 
I no longer find it necessary to retain custody of the relationship by refusing to discuss a problem with an outsider. While I have yet to come around to the idea of a professional counselor, I do talk with friends about some of our challenges. They share with me what they have learned from mistakes and successes in their own relationships. My friend M said to me something to me yesterday that should have been completely self-evident to me but was not. 
DB always buys me thoughtful little gifts - something that would make my life a little less stressful. It could a blue-tooth device for my phone so I did not have to fuss with a ringing phone on the commute, a nice kettle because I drink a lot of tea and am often clumsy with the saucepan in which I boil the water for it.
Or it could be buying me an assortment of dark chocolate because that's my favorite thing or remembering to replenish my supply of Darjeeling tea. Recently we were at a concert by a musician I had a huge teenage crush on. After the performance, DB braved the crowds to buy me a DVD that I could get an autograph on. This while keeping an eye on J and trying to get a picture of my and my hero.

He notices what stresses me out and what makes me happy and tries his best to diminish the former while increasing the later. Though I make every effort to ease his life,  I have yet to buy him a gift. Some days ago in the middle of an argument, he mentioned this as one of the things that caused him disappointment. I would have never imagined I could be accused of being too prosaic and here I was being told exactly that and not entirely without cause.
When I recounted this to M she said "Always pay attention to what your partner does for you that makes you happy and try to do the same thing for them. If he is so attentive to your needs, you can be sure he will be delighted to see you are to his too - it must be important to him and that's why he does it as often as he does" 
Nothing could be more common-sensical and yet it had not occurred to me. Like M, there are other friends who have told me things that I have pondered over. The ideas they have collectively suggested has made me reconsider my way of doing things and actually making positive changes. I still believe there is more power in the collective wisdom of people in myriad of life situations and relationship types than a professional with years of scientific training and a learned ability for being completely objective about the problem they are called upon to solve.

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