Loosening The Grip


Last week, I answered the meme about the 8 things that would make a perfect partner. It was an enlightening exercise, especially reading the answers of others. Lo and behold, many of us had many similarities. Sometimes we included things that were lacking from our current partners and some things we were able to find in the partners that we had.

There is one fact that is inescapable and FTN partially grazed it. The man or woman of our dreams is going to remain in our dreams. We will not share our beds with the person of our dreams at least while we're awake. Some people may come close enough and others may seem far away from that ideal. FTN discussed how the ideal changes at different ages and stages. We do not stay the same. Neither do our partners. The ground is constantly shifting beneath our feet. We may find bliss, but only for a time. The good news is that if we found it once, we may find it again. The bad news is that it will be only for a time. Even in the best of circumstances, no one lives forever.

There comes a time to mourn the loss of the fantasy, the ideal, the perfect. There comes a time to make peace with what is lost and what will never be. Even if one leaves in search of a more perfect partner, that fantasy will also ultimately meet reality. That ideal to which we have held on to so tightly must be released. We must let go.

Why? Because that to which we hold on to so tightly has a hold on us. Has a hold on me. Letting go is so difficult. I'm sure there are many, many times when I will have to reclaim myself from the grip of fantasies and ideals that have no grounding in reality. It is within the ideal that never was and never will be that provides the medium in which resentment grows.

Watching the funeral of Coretta Scott King was an exercise in endurance. For almost 6 hours, her life was celebrated and her passing mourned. It was as if the people there could not let go. But eventually they had to.

And so it is with this ideal to which I've clung. I have held on to it like a dog on to a bone. When I met Arwyn, she truly seemed to fit my ideal. She was laid back, she was giving and she seemed to like being around me. Here was the beautiful person who seemed to want me. It had such a comfortable feel to it. It was like a dream come true. We seemed to want the same things.

But life is chock full of curves. Couples struggle with illness, disabilities, infertility, financial ruin, losing a child, in-laws, the loss of parents, having children with disabilities, loss of jobs, loss of limbs, loss of libido, social scrutiny, social isolation, infidelity, clinginess, depression and a host of other personality changes. In a society that lives and breathes personal entitlement, is it any wonder that so many marriages fall apart? It is simply ludicrous to think that a marriage partner is going to meet all of our needs all of the time. It just isn't going to happen. Should it? Should one person complete us so completely?

I don't know if I would call this acceptance. Grief is a better description at the present time. By releasing those 8 perfect attributes, perhaps I can make more room for gratitude by throwing off the yoke of resentment.


14 Responses to Loosening The Grip

  1. Rob says:

    Digger, have you ever at times wondered if your wife would have treated you much differently than she’s done over the last number of years if you guys had never had any children?

  2. Cinnamon says:

    This is the best post you have ever written here, hands down. I think you’ve had a breakthrough.

  3. I have to say that I am impressed. I think you have hit on something rather profound. I’m not sure you can have your “dream” person, but I do think that the person you are with can become your dream person. They won’t meet all of your needs, as you won’t meet theirs. They won’t have some things that others will have to offer. The only thing we can go with is love, honestly. People do change. Life changes. As long as you can be happy with yourself, then your partner should be able to be happy with you in their special way.
    A lot of rambling to not say too much, huh?

  4. aphron says:

    Friction in a relationship many times stems from people expecting too much. There is no perfect person. There is only nearly perfect.

    I like the “yoke of resentment.” Past injuries have a way of building even if talked about and “resolved.” Letting go this resentment is desparately needed for the healing to begin. Resenting Arwyn for her lack of affection is understandable, but holding on to that resentment and feeding it will only lead to more and more resentment. It’s hard to let it go.

  5. FTN says:

    Good post. Unrealistically high expectations are the cause of many marriage problems in the first few years. And on the other hand, as people change and become complacent in marriage, that can become an issue in years 5-15.

    We might want and desire a “perfect” relationship, but we have to understand that we are not perfect people. Plus, my spouse is different than me — different strengths, different weaknesses.

    You have to choose what you will lovingly accept, and what you will lovingly try to change. While I agree that getting rid of your resentment will be a huge step, that doesn’t mean you can’t still strive for a few positive things from your wife.

  6. C-Marie says:

    And how unrealistic is it to have the expectation of that so called “dream” person in our lives. I think realistically, it’s all about acceptance and growth in the long run and some people do “outgrow” each other. I’ve come to accept many things in regard to my relationship – going into it with any sort of dream expectation would have been the end of it right from the very beginning…but you knew this already.

  7. Digger Jones says:

    Sure, Rob, I’ve wondered. I’ve also wondered what it would be like to *be* a woman! It’s all sort of the same. Childbirth changes women. Some more radically than others.

    Geez, Cinnamon! I didn’t think it was THAT good, but if it did it for you, I’m all for it! I’m sure I’m in for more breakthroughs down the line.

    I have no idea what synergy is trying to insinuate with that look.

    Peanut, you have a different sort of peace to make than I do and I admire the struggle you are making to do it. It’s good to inspire each other.

    Aphron & FTN, sometimes the best way to get through marriage is through that AA prayer: Grant me courage to change the things I can, the strength to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.

    Marie, I think we all have dreams going into it. The mutual dreams are very healthy. But the unrealistic dreams…well, once they become expectations things get very heavy. Those expectations just suck the fun right out of marriage, you know? Everyone, including me, goes on and on about how much work marriage is. So much of that work is wrapped up in our own expectations. I’m ready to give it a rest for a bit just to lighten the load and the attitude.


  8. Rosie says:

    I’m going to save the link to this. I’m not sure I totally agree but think it is certainly something with which to start an important conversation.

  9. Synergy says:

    No insinuations. You said it so well, I simply had nothing more to add.

  10. Square1 says:

    I believe this is something I’ve been trying to say for quite some time, however I was unable to put it quite so elegantly.

    It would be nice to have your dream spouse. I have found myself wishing for days when Cubed would act like my dream man… and he has his days where he floors me, because he does, and I am left wondering, “Who is this man and what did he do with my husband?”

    It was one day during an arguement wher I had retreated to the bathroom, bawling my silly blue eyes out, that I looked in the mirror, saw my disheveled hair, my pale face, and swollen eyes… and it hit me, that it was quite unlikely at that moment with the way I looked and the way I was behaving that I even resembled what he considered the woman of his dreams. Not one of us are perfect. I found it’s been easier for me to find out what he considers his dream woman, and to try to give it to him. Which for the most part is not entirely difficult, since a great deal of what he dreams of in a woman at the core is… well me… imperfections or not. None of us will get it right every time. When we accept and expect our partners to be imperfect… things seem to go a bit easier. Good luck, Digger.

  11. Michael says:

    I have to agree with pp and others. This was a very good post and I think you hit on something profound. I did a series of posts recently on compatability and I’ve been trying to write a summation but never could quite put the words together. You’ve done it for me. You come to a crossroads of sorts where you have to weigh the pros and cons; possible happiness with someone else, effects on the kids, growing resentement, etc, etc. Each person’s answer is different. Do we work things out? Do we split up? Do we stay together for the kids? It sounds like you’ve made your decision. I hope things improve with time.


  12. No one is perfect, not every dream can come true. Being an adult is about realizing that, and choosing which dreams are attainable and which are not.

    And not being miserable waiting for perfection which can never exist on this earth.

  13. claire says:

    I quote: I’ve also wondered what it would be like to *be* a woman!
    But, didn’t you know? You already are!

    Great post, by the way. I think this is part of that “forsaking all others,” they talk about – real and imagined.

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