Recently, I wrote about how relationships reflect us.
If we are paying attention to this reflection, we can learn some things about ourselves. Perhaps we learn how wonderful we are to others, even if we don’t see it. Perhaps we see that maybe we have an area of weakness we need to work on. Perhaps we recognize areas of strength we can build on.
The only way we will be able to see any of these things is to pay attention to what is being reflected back to us, and to pay attention to our internal responses to others.
I have learned quite a bit about myself thanks to relationships, and I’m going to share 5 of those with you now:
1) I need genuine connection and communication with my significant other every day.
Now, this doesn’t mean I need to have life altering conversations all the time (though, as an introvert, I’m not a huge fan of small talk). And, it doesn’t mean I’m annoying and clingy. But, I do need to be able to talk to and connect with my fella each day. Luckily, he’s really good about his intention and attempts to connect every day (something that was lacking with the Airman).
My fella now really makes time for me, even though we are currently about 100 miles away from each other. This makes me feel valued and loved, as my two biggest Love languages are: Quality time & words of affirmation. I have so much love and respect for how intentional he is with me in this area.
2) Physical space is very important to me.
Not physical touch, but physical space. I need to be on my own, in my own bubble a lot. Physical touch is lowest on my love languages list. And, sometimes, being touched actually signifies to me a lack of respect for me. I value being able to have my own time & space each day.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cuddling with my fella, holding hands, kissing. I really do enjoy those things. One of my favorite things when we’re together in his car is when he puts his hand on my leg. 97% of the time in the car, I get all giddy inside for that. That other 3%? Well, I’m either hot or needing space. But, sometimes I don’t say anything even in one of those 3% times, because being close to him and making him happy is more important to me.
Trust me, I understand how important physical closeness is in a relationship. But, if at any time, I were to ever communicate to him that for whatever reason in that moment I just needed personal space, I would hope he would respect that. If he didn’t allow that or honor that, I would have a really hard time allowing physical closeness in other moments.
So far, my fella has been really understanding of this. Honestly, I don’t even know if I can express how thankful I am for his respect in this area.
3) I cannot have the hard conversations on the phone after 10pm…and I probably can’t have the hard conversations in person after 10 pm either…
So, I don’t really get that irritable when I’m tired, usually I just get giddy. But, at night, my anxiety rises. I want to fix all of my problems at a time when I am completely incapable of doing so. This means, introducing any new problem or attempting any new solutions will just frustrate me.
During this time, pretty much any of the hard conversations immediately frustrate me because I recognize my limitations to fix anything, solve anything, or come to an agreement on anything. This also means, unfortunately, that at any moment even what seemed like it may have been an innocuous conversation can quickly turn (and I don’t have the mental capacity after 10 pm to recognize it’s coming).
So, after 10 pm, I have to be really careful and exert more energy on conversations so that I don’t hurt or offend or act on frustration.
And, the telephone? That just adds to my frustration. Miscommunications, can’t see the face, hard to hear. It just makes it so much worse. I have a harder time to express myself with spoken word at this time, so without the other person being able to see me? No. Just. No.
4) I really do get hangry. When that happens, I’m pretty much incapable of being a rational human being, and instead become a puddle of mush & anger & tears. I really can’t have any worthwhile conversation in this stage.
When I’m hungry, I’m hangry…look up hangry in the dictionary and you will probably see a picture of me. It’s not a part of me I’m proud of, and I try really hard not to do so…but I fail at controlling it about 95% of the time when I get to that point.
When I reach that point, I just have to keep my mouth shut until I get food. Otherwise, I usually regret my words, tone, and actions in that moment.
I’ve gotten really good at this point at apologizing for this. (If you have any suggestions for me to not reach this point, please share them!)
5) I am much more critical & selfish than I thought/want to be. But, also, now that I am aware of this area of weakness, I am actively working on this & praying God will soften my heart and allow my immense love to overcome any critical and selfish feelings.
This is probably the hardest one to admit, as I was mostly aware of the other 4 before my relationship with My Fella. This one has been a bit of a bigger shock to me. Though, I have at different times been made aware and tried to be more loving and giving in some areas, I never realized how unintentional it comes out in some of my speech.
Even when I’m intending love or concern, sometimes judgement or criticism comes out. Even when I do want happiness for someone else, sometimes I make a selfish choice because I have become so used to doing so.
I have been doing my own thing for so long, that my own thing seems like the right way, the best way, and the way that makes me feel best. Differences and disagreements often make me uncomfortable, and even when I’m wanting to be understanding, it sometimes comes off as being critical.
I have been praying that God will continue to bring understanding to both of us in our communication: understanding of our limits, patience when we don’t understand, and an ability to correct and repair.
So far, it hasn’t been a big, divisive issue. But, I’ve begun to really work at it and pray about it so that it doesn’t become so. I want My Fella to always know how much I love him, and respect him, and appreciate him. If I sound constantly critical (whether I intend to or not), I know it will be harder and harder for him to read: respect, love, and appreciation in my words.
Therefore, I am trusting God to work on me in this area, as I am working with Him.
So, there you have it. 5 things I’ve learned about myself from relationships.
I’ll throw in a bonus one that ties in to a few of them: I don’t believe you have to solve everything before bed. If we’re in a hard discussion after 10 pm or we’ve had a recent negative interaction and it’s bed time, I don’t expect the issue to be resolved before bed. What I do expect? No matter what, the last thing I tell him each day (no matter how hurt, frustrated, tired, or uncomfortable I feel regarding our last conversation), the last thing I tell him is how much I love him. This goes for great days or days we’ve had some hard conversations, disagreements, or negative interaction. I am intentional about ending each day with positive, honest words. Because, though you may not be able to fix each problem before you go to sleep (and, often, you really should wait until you are both rested), you can go to sleep on a positive note, being reminded of why you love each other and fight for each other each day.
Relationships take work, as Ive said before. Some of that work, comes from learning things about yourself. Some of that work comes from sharing what you’ve learned and what you need with your partner. A lot of that work comes from becoming sacrificial, despite knowing what you know about yourself.
What have you learned about yourself in relationships? Share below.