Wifeys & Gentlemen,
Hey there! How is your New Year going? 2016 has started off nicely enough for me, but I teeter between thinking it’s going by really slowly and marveling at how quickly time flies. Mostly, I blame planning this wedding. There is a part of me that wishes it was just November already! I want to get to the day and see how it all comes together. I want to know how everything will turn out! Then, the more practical, less crazy side kicks in with a warning about how I should value the time that I have and savor each of the little details. I swear, I’m working on this! I want to be calm, cool, and collected when it comes to organizing and planning, but sometimes, that other crazy-bride side just can’t contain herself! Gah! Anyway…
I know we talked about it last time, but as part of my resolution and commitment to self-love, learning to balance out my priorities with friends, family, and wedding is something that weighs on my mind. Finding a balance between normal Kyndal and Crazy-Bride is hard, ya’ll! I find myself looking in the mirror at night before bed and thinking: how could I have been more balanced today? How can I be more balanced tomorrow? It’s exhausting, but refreshing in the sense that I know how continuing to challenge myself to find this balance will only help me in the future.
In a lot of ways, my focus on balance was inspired by the topic for this post (weird, right?) It’s great when this happens because it gives me a chance to reflect on a topic from a place of inexperience! I can wrestle with the ideas myself and do some experimenting and observation before applying them to the general public, all while gaining a better understanding of my position or opinions accordingly, which helps my relationship, and makes be a better person! (at least in theory)
Get this: A few weeks ago (like 2?) a friend of mine was in a tough spot with her best friend and her boyfriend. To make what could be a long story short, my friend made plans with her best friend to go to a show (the plans were made about a month in advance), but cancelled at the last minute because she wanted to be with her boyfriend (who, in her defense, was feeling really upset about a bad experience that occurred earlier that afternoon). When grappling with the (presumed) guilt of bailing on her friend vs feeling like a “let down” to her boyfriend, she asked me a question that truly baffled me; “okay, but at what point does HE become the priority?” she said, trying to justify (in a very rational way) that good girlfriends (and boyfriends) put their significant other first. She was torn about whether to feel bad, wanting to show solidarity to her boyfriend while not being judged or criticized by her friends.
In that moment, I wasn’t sure how to answer, which really bothered me. As someone who has been in long term relationships since I’m 12 (shut up!) and who is now on the business end of a wonderful engagement/rapidly approaching wedding, of course, I should be a champion for relationship priorities, right? I admit that it made me feel (temporarily) inadequate. Honestly, the thought never occurred to me. Was I being a bad fiancee for not knowing when I decided that my man was my #1? Was my man actually my #1?
I answered in the best way I knew how in the moment (the diplomatic, Ms. Renai way) and then quickly turned to my mentor for further understanding of my emotions. True to form, my mentor helped me to understand that the reason I couldn’t identify with the emotion is because I wasn’t in a relationship that required me to make those types of decisions or organize the hierarchy in my mind.
Please understand, I’m not saying that my relationship is, in any way, better or more stable than anyone else’s. It just, simply put, my fiancee and I do not tend to have moments where the question of priorities really comes into meaningful conversation. This doesn’t mean that we won’t in the future, it just means we haven’t now.
Over the next week, I spent time really thinking about how I felt and, because you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t at least a little curious, I finally have an answer that I am comfortable with!
Q: At what point does your significant other become the priority?
The Answer?: When your partner or S/A is a healthy and meaningful part of your life, and the question isn’t really a question anymore.
Simple enough, right? Haha! For those who are annoyed, let me explain. I have broken my response down into 4 basic parts.
- I believe that a good relationship becomes your priority organically, without much thought or consideration. I am of the opinion that your significant other should be your priority no matter what, so I hope that what I am trying to say isn’t too confusing. For me (and most others), it might be weird question to answer because most of us do not keep a “list ” or ranking of who is most important to us and when. (1) Fiancé (2) Family (3) Friends (4) Dog… While this order is logical and makes perfect sense to some, if the average person is being honest with themselves, this list will shift from moment to moment and the context of the relationships will change over time. For example, my fiancé, dog, and friends are my family (as well as my actual family). However, some members of my family aren’t my friends, some of my friends don’t need me, and sometimes I ignore my dog when he needs me the most (not often, but sometimes I get home late when he needed to “go” for a walk, or I get busy and feed him later than normal). The point is that throughout our lives, we must work to balance the people (and animals) who are most important to us. While I know not every relationship is the same, I can say with certainty that the happiest couples I know champion their partners to “do the right thing” and trust each other’s judgement. If you have to cancel plans, the people in your life should feel valued and secure enough to trust that you wouldn’t do it unless it was important. This means that your partner can trust that you’ll be there for them when they need you and you can trust that he or she will “let you off the hook” when you can’t put them first all of the time. This is something that (usually) happens without having to say it. You make your priorirites based on feelings, not conceptions.
This leads me to point number 2…
2. I believe that healthy, secure partners will not ask you to choose. Again, this is largely based on experience and observation, but I have found that when a partner asks you to choose priorities or “prove” that they are 1st in your life, it can be a major red flag. This isn’t always the case, as there is always an exception to every rule, but when someone needs you to consistently prove your love or loyalty to them, it means that they are insecure and need to feel ‘in control’ in order to feel safe in your relationship. Does your partner get upset when you make plans with friends? Does he or she throw a guilt trip at you when you want to go visit your family or spend time away from them? Do they get mad at you or accuse you of things you haven’t done when you try to make time for work, school, friends, family, etc? Ask yourself why. Are you displaying behaviors that make your partner feel threated or devalued? If so, then yes, it is on you to change this and make sure that you are offering your partner the attention and commitment they need to feel appreciated and important in your life. However, if you do believe that you make your relationship a priority in your life and your partner still asks you to choose, you might have to reconsider the context of your relationship and help your partner understand the importance of this balance moving forward.
Above all else…
3. I believe you should trust your instincts. In theory, no one knows you better than you know yourself. In the scenario my friend mentioned, for example, if you know that your partner is really going through a rough time and absolutely needs you to be there for them right away, trust that and go with it. Your friendships (I hope) are strong enough for them to forgive you later. However, truly consider the way you go about this. Do you find yourself regularly blowing your friends off? Did you make a commitment to them first that would be really rude to flake on? Is there a way for you to split up your time that you might not have previously considered? If you aren’t a sociopath (no disrespect to any of you out there that might be), you’ll know pretty quickly if you did the right thing. Your conscience will tell you how to feel, and your spirit will tell you how to respond if/when you have made the wrong choice; believe me, there will be times when you chose wrong, and you’ll need to make up for it.
4. I believe that you can’t be afraid of change. In relationships (the lasting ones), the closer you both become, the more you’ll begin to understand how to find balance and shift priorities as needed. Your partner will also begin to know and understand what is most important to you and how they fit into the equation. One day, you could land your dream job, or have a baby, or a parent will fall ill, or a friend will go through a divorce, and your priorities will change to reflect your needs as well as everyone else’s. Don’t be scared of this change in yourself and don’t be scared of this change in your partner; it’s normal, it’s natural, and in the right circumstances, it’s actually pretty fantastic to grow and change together and find new ways to roll with the punches of life.
So I guess that’s it. That’s my answer. & I promise, when it comes down to it (& your relationship is in a good place), your husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend, life partner/domestic cohabitant, will always be your #1…and if you’re lucky, you’ll be theirs too! (and you won’t even have to ask)
Until next time!
Carry on Wifeys.