For most of my life, I was never really very good at relationships with men. I can’t say I got along with my father very well. I didn’t understand him or feel close to him. I wanted to have satisfying conversations with him, but they fell short.
In high school, I only observed boys from afar. I didn’t talk to them much, and felt really embarrassed when I was around them. They made me nervous. For relief, I associated mostly with girlfriends, studied a lot and worked on the family farm. I wasn’t allowed to attend social events or dances at school, so I didn’t date until college. There, I loved men (and there was a gorgeous sea of them!) and wanted to be around them, but still never felt comfortable. I didn’t understand them, and couldn’t find my footing. I was really, truly unprepared to be with men, but did the best I could. And I know that this is how many of us navigated (and tried to make sense of) our childhood, high school and college experiences around relationships.
Right out of college, I jumped into my first marriage, and eventually had 3 marriages lasting about 5 years each. In addition, I had a few significant relationships, one producing my fabulous daughter, and finally I got together with my current partner of 14 years.
Getting a man never seemed to be a problem for me. However, keeping a man, getting along with a man, or creating a growing, expanding, deepening relationship with a man was (obviously) a complete mystery to me.
In retrospect, I can see that my pattern was to find a good man and then slowly drain his power away until he became confused, weak, or angry – in any case, take him off his game, his strong suit, his natural confidence. Then he didn’t like himself, and didn’t like me.
And guess what? I also didn’t like him and didn’t like me. Things always ended in a mess. Then I would simply go find a new man, start over, and hope for the best.
When I was about 5 years into my current relationship with Eric, it pretty much went to heck in a hand basket, just like all the other relationships. Finally, we had one of those pivotal, life-changing Sunday morning talks, and Eric said to me, “Are you done with me yet?”
That was a real wake up moment for me.
I decided then and there to change my “sending men down the drain” pattern. What was I doing to make that happen? I committed to figuring out how to improve my relationship with Eric in a big way.
When the student is ready, the teachers appear. And they did. Within one month, things got much better. Within 3 months I felt hope that I could sustain the positive momentum. After about 6 months, I thought, “Wow. This is amazing. Same guy. “Different” girl. And a new life for both of us.”
Things had turned around. He was encouraged, and I was elated. He was back to being the wonderful man he was when we got together. We were having fun together, learning from each other, growing together – which has continued to this day, many years later.