If your relationship is valuable, put it first; your partner will get the attention and you’ll get the benefits.
I’d never heard the term ‘My Boo’ until I met my wife, who’d been abused, abandoned, and ignored in past relationships. And she presented me with an unspoken challenge: could I be different? And would I bother?
Have you received a challenge like that? How did you respond?
I took the endearment as a sign. I determined to make our new marriage different from the past relationships we’d both experienced. I decided to become the valuable Boo my wife wanted.
Here are Four Things I Learned
1. I learned to be available
Once wed, it’s easy to think that because you’re off the market, you’re off the hook. Tick the box; move onto the next part of life.
With wooing done, it’s time to get back to weekend fun, with mates.
Unfortunately, that attitude leads inevitably to a long slide backward. And the ending isn’t any sort of fairy tale.
Many relationships wind a long path towards disillusionment. I’d had that. I didn’t want it again.
In relationship, you have to turn up daily, as if you’re not continually attending to it, your relationship will spoil. I’ve found marriage analogous to an obstacle course I might run with a buddy. The obstacles on the marriage course are life’s adventures, distractions, pleasures and setbacks.
I know I could run alone for much of life, watching the views while pacing and stretching myself as I choose. Or I could make sure we stay together, even if I have to pause and wait at times; even if I sometimes miss out something important to me, because my wife has a need.
I appreciate my wife being available for me. So I respond when she wants me, even if I have to break concentration on a something else I am doing.
2. I learned that ‘Give and Take’ required more give than take
But you may feel that it’s your life and castle, and partners have to fit themselves into it, whatever your lifestyle.
Most will agree that marriage is give and take. And there is no 50/50 line. Contributions can’t be measured precisely. But I believe you get the best out of any relationship by going far enough that you know you’re carrying more than you’re leaving behind.
I’m creative; I made time for ‘dates’. And I made time to listen.
Listening doesn’t happen while watching TV, or while typing on the laptop, or while reading news.
I had to be fully present if I wanted to hear both her spoken and unspoken messages.
For me, my wife’s growth and satisfaction with her life reflects on me too, if I’m her Boo. And I’ve realized that not only do I have to be mentally present to help it happen, but I don’t feel fulfilled unless I do.
The rewards have come. Each day I record a note of gratitude in my journal, because I’m getting awesome payback for simply being available.
3. I learned to look for common values
There are always reasons to complain; something’s always less than what you’ve imagined. Sometimes you can make up ground; sometimes you cannot. And it’s all too easy to see the areas of disagreement.
Reflecting brings an ability to see the underlying value in the one you live with. I grew in more-or-less the same overarching culture as my wife, but she’s from a minority. Her growing-up experiences were very different.
I generally agree with my wife in areas that matter: fairness; justice; equality. Most of the issues I don’t care about are ones she doesn’t care about either.
Of course we argue. Sometimes I hurt her, because I didn’t think. But when I do think about what we both value, I appreciate her deeply.
She supports the causes I feel strongly about; I feel connected to the causes she supports, because we value the same principles. And when I think about her values, I realize the things in her behavior that irk me are unimportant.
Relationships between people with common values can break apart like any other partnership. But reflecting on common values reminds me about the good stuff.
Recognizing and communicating about our common values has made my marriage much stronger.
4. I learned to show I cared
Since Gary Chapman wrote about the different ways we communicate in The 5 Love Languages, many people realized their messages weren’t being received.
I was one of those. I’d always been drawn to show caring through touch; that is the communication that speaks ‘caring’ loudest to me.
But my wife preferred a different language. And if I hadn’t learned the necessity of being available, and the importance of embracing our common values, I wouldn’t have thought about how I communicated.
My wife says her previous partners were the same individual in a different shirt. She hadn’t felt reached, or understood.
I had to learn to communicate so she could hear me. I had to back up words with deeds, so she could trust me. And I had to act on what she said mattered, so she would know I cared.
I had to learn to be responsible for the relationship. A marriage is a thing; it’s the very real space between two people.
Invisible, it gets taken for granted. When that happens, the marriage isn’t fed, isn’t honored.
I’ve learned, imperfectly, to look after it, not leave it to chance. And my wife tells me I’m the Boo she once dreamed about.
Have you learned to be available, to show gratitude, and to share your values? Please share what you’ve learned on FaceBook or in the comments.
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Photo Credit: madhippieslife.com