I don’t really consider myself an expert in relationships, but I’ve learned a lot along the way. Life–and relationships–are full of lessons, and sometimes those lessons are hard.
We’ve been married for going on seven years. I know that’s not a super long time, but for today’s standards within my generation, that’s a long ass time. We are happy, too, and we’re still very much in love. Sure, we get on each other’s nerves like 90% of the time, but we’ve come a long way from where we started.
I’m not afraid (or ashamed) to admit that early on in our relationship and up until the last few years, I dealt with a lot of insecurities and projected them onto my husband, Matt. Early adulthood is a trip, and it’s even more of a trip when you’re already married with two kids. I didn’t mean to project my issues on him, it’s just one of those things that subconsciously happened when life throws some hurdles your way and you have no idea how to process them.
And it wasn’t fair, not even a little bit. Matt didn’t do anything wrong; the hurdles that shook the foundation of everything I knew were not because of him. He was my rock throughout that time, and it took me a long time to see that he wasn’t the enemy, that other people’s mistakes were not his mistakes.
It started out with self-deprecating comments, comments that hurt my husband to hear. In addition to those “hurdles” I mentioned, I had real anxieties about us, streaming from my insecurities being unable to work and help provide for our family (and, you know, the whole body image issue). The majority of bread-winning falls into his hands. I do make an income off writing, but he’s the one covering all the bills and expenses. I try to use my money for my writing career, so that I don’t take away from our household needs.
Before I started writing and making a little of my own money, my insecurities were worse. I felt useless, like I was holding him back. I couldn’t understand why he wanted to be with me. He works so hard and has so little to show for it, because in this economy, you need two full-time incomes just to get ahead. We’ve spent years not being ahead. We’ve spent years watching everyone around us buy houses and boats and go on exciting trips while we’ve struggled to make ends meet, all because I can’t work a traditional full-time job. Things are finally getting better now that I’m making an income, even if it fluctuates a little too much to actually depend on, but it’s still hard.
Admittedly, I still struggle with insecurities. One can simply not wash off over twenty-years of that way of thinking, after all, but I’ve grown better at swallowing those ugly comments now that I know how much they bother him. Instead of spewing out self-deprecating remarks like I used to, which almost always resulted in an argument because he doesn’t like when I undervalue myself, I started talking to Matt about why I was feeling insecure, sort of like a “heads up, this is why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling“.
I gave him the opportunity to see where my head was at without attacking or blaming him, which had him responding in a positive way and not getting frustrated at me because I was being absolutely ridiculous. Yes, sometimes I still act absolutely ridiculous, but now I’m self-aware enough to realize I’m being ridiculous.
Relationships fail when people project their insecurities on their partner so often and so much that it stifles them. Partners will give up because it’s hard to reassure someone constantly that you love them and that there is no one else out their for you but them. Partners give up because it’s not easy to feel like the bad guy all the time in the relationship. Relationships take a lot of work on a good day, but if you’re going to war with your partner over things that haven’t even happened, or things that you fear happening, well…you’ll do more damage than good.
There’s no shame in feeling insecure at times–we’ve all been there, but you’ve got to be self-aware to realize that you’re being insecure, and perhaps the reason isn’t because your partner happened to smile at another person. If you find yourself immediately going to the worst cause scenario that they’re wanting to cheat on you, and then lashing out because of it, that’s an internal problem that you have to fix. This is you hurting your partner because your insecurities are hurting you, and that’s not fair to either one of you.