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Monday, May 17, 2010

The fine art of compromise

It has been stated that the key to a successful marriage is communication and compromise but how do you effectively communicate about that compromise?

I have always felt that it was my destiny to meet a great man, only at the time in my life when I would be completely at peace with myself. I'm almost there with the latter.

What I discovered about happiness is that we must have all or most areas of our lives in check. I consider being "whole" as your life represented by a pie (flavour does not matter.) There are several pieces to make up this whole, just like grade school math class taught us during the fraction chapter. The pieces include facets like: family, friends, career, spirituality, self, health and finance. It has been my experience that we cross paths with various people in our lives. We have all heard that people enter your life for a reason, season or lifetime.

Everyone and everything has a purpose in our world, however not one person or thing can provide us with all the pieces of the pie. In other words, never put all your eggs in one basket.

It drives me crazy when girlfriends ditch their friends for a man. We are all guilty of falling head over heels for a dashing gent, and a natural instinct is to wrap your entire schedule and world around this person. Over time however, we begin to realize that although yes, we have met our Prince Charming, we cannot ignore the other pieces of the pie sitting on the counter, waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

You may be wondering where I am heading with this. I'm getting there.

I love being married. I feel loved, safe and special. Being a wife is wonderful. I can't help however, becoming irritated with myself and others who have always had such a strong sense of independence and are suddenly beginning every conversation or opinion with "we think, we feel, we do, we do not." You get the picture.

I was elated to meet and marry my twin soul. Literally, my husband and I have established that we live and have lived in parallel universes; sensitive only children raised by single moms and stepfathers, who love to write and met on a dating site, yet lived five minutes away from each other in Toronto. Often we finish each other's sentences, and totally get each other's wacky sense of humour.

Time marches on, and I have realized that yes, I have met a truly amazing man in which I believe we will both live a happy and enriched life, but Dear God, are we different in some ways.

In the dating phase of a relationship, we are of course on our best behaviour at all times. Like a job interview or meeting of the parents for the first time, your first impressions certainly count. Not only do we take extra care in our appearance, manners and punctuality but it also seems that we are very accommodating to the other person's needs and interests. It also seems that as honest or open as we are with our newfound amore, the other person is not really hearing us. Love at it's infancy is so blind to any faults or truths that it's as if, when I told Michael, I'm a really emotional person, he wasn't really believing me. I expressed that I absolutely LOVE to dance. I love music. I always have and that will never change. He nodded his head in approval and said that my hair smelled nice. When he told me what a sports nut he was, I gazed into his dreamy eyes and proclaimed that of course it would be so much fun to attend a football game with him.

I'm not quite sure at which point things get fuzzy as you move from the dating to the matrimonial stage of life but if this transition was a screenplay, it would read: "Take the needle and scratch it fast and loud across the vinyl record!"

Let's take a jaunt back to last summer. My husband excitedly asked me to go to the Jays game. We were given great tickets but it was honestly the last thing I felt like doing. To make a long story short, we spent 90 minutes at the game, where I thought we had a V.I.P. box but in actuality we paid 20 dollars for two beers and sat next to farting and elbowing men. We spent a combined 8 hours in traffic both there and back and only saw 90 minutes of the game (I said that already.) The construction was insane. We almost ran out of gas. We were tired and cranky and I am sure he was wondering why he didn't just go with his buddies.

Last Saturday, I was heading out to a new local lounge with a couple of friends. The intention was to have an early night but I knew deep down that we would be busting a move later in the evening. I absolutely love dancing. My husband detests it (and I don't know why because he has great moves!) I kept coming over to check if he was okay when finally we both wondered aloud why he even came.

Why is it that the same things we fell in love with each other in the beginning start to irritate us further into the relationship? Why do we try to change or mold or resist each other's differences?

To tie all my loosely gathered points together, in the same way that it is okay and in fact healthy to disperse your energy and appetite into several pieces of the pie that make up our lives, it's also healthy to realize that we will never get everything from one person. Truth be told, there are some things that my husband could never be and nor should he. Why should he try to fill the role of a mother or girlfriend or colleague? Similarly, I have friends of varying demographics. Some are colleagues that provide a laugh during the workday, some I can share my deepest secrets with, and not feel one ounce of judgement. Some are young, some are seasoned. Some are male, some are gradeschool chums. Some I can go hiking with and others I can go dancing with. Some inspire me and some have scorned me. Some have taught me lessons about love and others have taught me about courage. The difference with marriage is that we don't have multiple husbands to fill our various needs the same way a girlfriend would.

The compromise that we arrived to is this: We agree that our ideas of what constitutes a fun Saturday night can sometimes be different. We agree that I would much rather turn the music up LOUD and he would much rather jot notes down quietly from a cooking show. We agree that we will never turn to each other for a night out of dancing or a sporting event again.

So, we agree to disagree. And that conclusion in my opinion, is a fine art of compromise.

(But don't you think he looks awfully comfy on the dance floor?)

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