05 May 2009

What now?

The past few years I've gone through the inevitable struggle that many single people go through as they approach 30. My struggle stems from being single and very nearly 29 while having grown up in dual cultures that encouraged marrying young and believing wholeheartedly in a religion that teaches the vital importance of family. I've spent the last four years trying to decide what it is that I truly want regardless of any other pressures or factors; and to find where I fit. I'm still seeking, but I'm more at peace with where I am than I ever have been. I've seen dear friends break under the pressure and doubt themselves and God. I, myself, have asked difficult questions of myself and God. I've asked Him some hard questions, but to be clear, I don't doubt God. I never have.

I remember having a conversation about marriage with a friend when I was 23. At the time, I thought the worst thing in the world was to be single beyond 25. I told him this and he laughed. But I was serious. Now I look back and laugh. I'm glad that I didn't rush into anything then, that I had the presence of mind and the ability to extricate myself from some of my past relationships. Even though I've left plenty of ex-boyfriend carnage in my wake. I had more to learn; more to experience. I can and have accepted that it was not my fate to marry young. And independent of what I was taught, I don't believe it was really my desire either. It can be difficult to reconcile who we were taught to be with who we really are. Based on this, it's sometimes hard to accept myself as I am. I'm getting there.

I've spent the past four years working with survivors of domestic violence and providing community education about healthy relationships. I know how easy it is to end up in a bad situation. No one chooses to be abused, but we are all capable of choosing to harm those we love. Many people around me decided to blame my being single on the work I was doing; in reality the work made me more appreciative of the many many many good men that I know. The work made me smarter and bolder and more aware and more careful, but not fearful. Never fearful. I know there are reasons for everything. I really want a family, but it hasn't happened yet. God knows why. I trust Him.

These are the things I want.

After many years of dating I've learned a lot (I hope) and can now identify some of the things I need in a relationship instead of the massive lists of wants and requirements and conditions that I used to carry around in my head. I've dismissed and refused people for really stupid reasons. I like to think I'm much more open and tolerant now.

I know better than to ask a partner for things that I'm not willing to strive for and give in return.

These are the things I need. In no particular order.

I need companionship. I'm not as happy alone as I like to pretend.

I need to fall in love deeply.

I need a partner who understands that love is an action word and that it takes maintenance.

I need a partner who is physically and verbally affectionate.

I need a partner who seeks God.

I need a partner who sees me as his equal and behaves accordingly.

I need a partner who understands that I cannot fix him and he cannot fix me; but that we can offer each other enough love and support to allow us to heal together.

I need a partner who respects that I will not give up my autonomy, family, friends, interests, or hobbies for him. Nor will I ask that he do so for me.

I need a partner with enough personal baggage and experience to make him compassionate, patient, and forgiving.

I need a partner who knows that "whole" doesn't mean "perfect."

I need a partner who is always honest and loyal: to both himself and me.

I need a partner strong enough to stand up to me.

I need a partner kind enough to stand up to me.

I need a partner bonkers enough to live with me.

I need a partner wise enough to love me.

I need a partner who respects my experiences.

I need children. At least 3.

I need a partner who will take an active and equal role in raising our children.

I need a partner who is teachable and embraces change.

I need a partner who can handle disappointment.

I need a partner who does not blame others for his problems and mistakes.

I need a partner who is accountable for his choices.

I'll leave it there for now.


The Stevens said...

I love that you said you have learned that you would never require traits in a partner that you were not willing to share or show. What an awesome attitude and quality. Many times in my own marriage I find myself thinking why is my spouse not more like this or does not do this when I realize I lack the same quality that I am requiring him to have. And, interesting enough when I work on developing those qualities he will automatically start developing the same traits. There is so much to learn and I am so glad that God does not give up on us or doubt our greatness. You are such an amazing person and I know because I have lived with you. :-) I love you Leah!

Rosander said...

You know what I have learned in life. Marriage will not make someone happy, children will not make someone happy, money will not make someone happy, a job will not make someone happy... and the list can go on and on forever. Happiness comes from within us. There will always be challenges in every stage of life, but we can choose to become bitter and let it destroy us or to find some kind of joy in our life at the moment. If we are not happy now nothing will ever make us happy. Life is amazing no-mater what the situation, we just have to find happiness in our life at the present time. If you are truly happy, you will find happiness in the now! I love that you have seemed to find that! It takes some people a lifetime to find. What a wise woman you are!

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