Don’t Go Changing – Even Though I Want You To

We don’t waste our time with gift-guessing in our family. Instead, we employ liberal use of wish lists and self-shopping. This practical approach, though less exciting than surprises, is also less stressful which is incredibly appealing.

Difficulties arise when a would-be gift recipient knows not what they wish for. Or when they don’t want ‘things.’

Guilty as charged

For Mother’s Day, I half-jokingly asked Husband to consider lowering the toilet seat. In the game of ‘Pick Your Battles’ I’d never chosen this one. Married readers will accurately assume that this request met with resistance.

These relationship conundrums, despite their relative insignificance, can escalate to unreasonable levels of disharmony. So I dropped the topic like a hot potato. But not before considering why it is that we’re so put-out when asked to modify ourselves.

When I was a child my mother would ask for the same gift every year – “Just be a good kid. Don’t fight with your sister.”

I resented this request with passion.  In my immature mind, the implication was that I needed to change in order for my mother to be happy.

“I’m not enough”

We humans have a bad habit of wanting to sculpt our surroundings to suit our own preferences. We want others to change to make us more comfortable. It’s easy to forget that our opinions aren’t the only ones that matter. 

When we first enter a relationship, we forgive everything and we accommodate for each other’s differences. Over time our generosity fades and we begin to change labels. What was endearing becomes annoying. What was naturally absent now feels intentionally withheld. Tolerance and compromise feel more like sacrifice.

When I fool myself into obsessing over how my loved one’s habits affect me, I’ve forgotten 2 cardinal rules of relationship:

1. I am responsible for my own happiness.

2. I can’t control anyone but myself.

In other words, tend your own garden. Stay in your own lane. Don’t step out of your hula hoop. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

If we want to thrive in relationship we have to be willing to get over ourselves, which should keep us too busy to get tangled up in what other people are doing. Truth is, they’re not doing anything but being themselves. And that’s always ok. Not one of us owns the copyright to Life. Pretending that we do is our demise, but only 100% of the time.

We are quick enough in perceiving and weighing what we suffer from others, but we mind not what others suffer from us.Thomas a’ Kempis

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