The other day, my father gave me a pep talk about my recent state of anxiety stemming from a bad dating experience. It was the first time in two years my anxiety had spiraled and it caused me to close up in my usual way of speaking up for myself. “This is not you. You are a happy, vibrant, and outgoing and you have your shit together. You are always trying to accommodate others. If someone doesn’t treat you right, you have always told them to fuck off and you write about it. That’s who you are. That’s what you do.” That’s when I realized that I was not defending my own right to happiness by letting someone else walk all over me and trying to keep a peaceful demeanor when they didn’t deserve it. The light bulb went off and I did what I needed to do for me; for my happiness and for my own peace. The anxiety I have been feeling the past five weeks instantly stopped. I finally feel like myself again. It made me think about who I am and who we all are as a result of our upbringing. My father and my parents marriage has set the standard of what I expect and search for in a partner. Having been married for nearly 32 years, and watching them communicate and handle their life struggles together as a team, I realized that my relationship values and the way I defend my position has everything to do with how I was raised. I am my mother’s daughter with the communication patience of my father.
I adore the relationship my parents have. My mother is a tough cookie and like myself, and she speaks her mind. Sure, she may be difficult at times (what woman isn’t?) but she’s tough as nails and my father loves her dearly, even if sometimes that anger is directed at him. He is patient with her. They communicate. They tackle life and all of it’s challenges together. They are in their mid 50’s and they still date and have fun like teenagers. My friends are always saying how awesome my parents are and how fun their relationship is. They don’t have all of the same interests, but they believe in the same core values about life. They support each other and still have time to themselves to keep their own sense of individuality. Not every couple is like this and it stems from what relationship values were displayed to us while growing up. We didn’t have much. It was never a glamorous life of luxury and having a ton of money, but the love that existed in my home was always felt and worth more than any material items could ever compare to. My brother and I fought like crazy at times, and sometimes we got in trouble from our parents when we rebelled, but at the end of the day, we always communicated and fixed our issues, because we wanted that loving feeling and warmth when we went to sleep each night.
Some of us come from broken homes, some of us only had one parent growing up, some of us don’t know who our biological parents are, and some of us watched our parents ignore each other for weeks on end whenever issues would arise. No relationship follows the same pattern but one thing is for sure, we get our relationship morals from what we started witnessing from a young age; no matter how many Disney and Rom-com movies we watched, although we can dream! We take the expectation from our reality rather than our fantasy, and there’s nothing wrong with that but it is about understanding that the person you are with may have a different perception of how they think a relationship or marriage is supposed to be, and sometimes that can be the deciding factor in your overall compatibility together for the long haul. Some of us defy this rule and some of us follow it inherently. There really is no right or wrong way, but overall happiness is achieved in relationships by understanding that shared values are better than shared interests. Two people need to understand that their personal beliefs are a fundamental part of who they are and are generally consistent throughout your life based on your personal upbringing. There might be exceptions to this such as a traumatic event in life that causes a shift in perception however, mostly we are who we are based on how we were raised. I’m a person who was around a healthy level of love, intimacy, communication, and ritual family bonding times; such as always spending Christmas eve together going to Christmas movies as a kid to playing board games with cocktails as an adult and routine family attendance at my brother and my soccer games, my mother with the oranges, and my father as the coach. We were always, and are still extremely close knit.
Sometimes we forget that who we are as people results from how were were raised and what examples were displayed to us. Whether you grew up eating Sunday dinners at the table as a family with the “good China,” or in front of the football game with TV trays, chances are you have taken those habits forward with you in your own adult life. While I was fortunate enough to have been raised by two loving parents who had problems that they met with solution and growing from the experiences, not everyone will share the values that I perpetuate forward within my own self. Identify your relationship values. Who are you and what is your expectation of a relationship in comparison to the values of the people you date? I’ve been analyzing my pattern of failures and with exception of two long term relationships, I haven’t been dating men that share a similar value system as I do. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how wonderful a person’s lifestyle or interests might be, we will live a happier life when we harness the relationships with the people whose values match our own.