Fourth of July Features
Free to Be
In short, you grant them freedom from harsh judgments, freedom from your attempts to change their nature, freedom to fly. And because they are “FREE to BE”, the love and respect flows both ways, and you are also free to be who you are.
Does this mean that you cheerfully accept any and all behaviors? Certainly not. You are one member of a couple--compromises and negotiations have to work positively for both parties. And selfish behavior is not rewarded in a marriage. When one partner acts selfishly, the other partner suffers. And if one partner is suffering, so is the marriage.
But it does mean that when there are disagreements, you solve them with mature, honest, loving, respectful communication. Not with name-calling or with angry, judgmental statements. NO ATTACKS ALLOWED! When one of you gets off-track (and you will), the other gently reminds them that the path you are on together must ultimately be walked hand-in-hand. And when the disagreement is resolved, you practice true forgiveness, leaving the past in the past.
One of the things Herb and I had to work out early in our marriage was my need to “vent” when I am frustrated about something, and his belief that if I shared my problems, he was supposed to fix them! We finally came to an understanding. If I wanted him to step in and “do something”, I would have to vocalize that and be specific! But most of the time, I just want him to listen to me, to let me talk it out.
Before we negotiated this “settlement”, his “unrealized expectation” was that if I brought a problem to his attention, then I was “expecting” him to do something about it. And what he didn’t realize was that all I “expected” him to do was to hear me out, to listen, and to be sympathetic to my current plight.
Now that we both understand our “expectations”, I am FREE to BE me, free to talk about what is bothering me and he is free to listen without the pressure of trying to make everything all better.
No marriage can be successful if either party loses their individual natures. Compromises are necessary to remain a couple, but each partner must retain their individuality--for their own mental health and for the health of the marriage. After all, it was your individual natures that attracted you to one another in the first place! Don’t lose sight of who you are as people. Let your partner know that you love them as a person, and respect their right to maintain their individual nature.
Maybe he loves golf and she hates it. Maybe she loves college football and he would rather watch soccer. Neither should have to give up things that they love, things that define who they are. Nor should the other partner be forced to regularly sit through activities that they don’t enjoy. It is okay to have some separate interests, to maintain some individuality.