a complicated affair

It’s taken me weeks to process our last Badass Mama’s circle theme: partnering. Whoosh, hearing information from Jenni about three relationship experts grounded me in theory, but thinking about my own relationship with my husband leaves my head spinning. How do you talk about marriage when significant other relationships are such personal topics of discussion? How do you begin to say something profound when you know 50 percent of marriages end in divorce?
I can’t talk lightly about the topic of partnering, knowing this personal journey with another person is both sacred and extremely difficult to explain to the outside world. I keep trying to write this blog, and the first attempt just laid out information from three relationship experts that Jenni told us about during group. But how did hearing this info and then discussing our relationships with the other Badass Mamas affect me?
And why don’t I want to dive deep and write about partnering? It’s that stat about divorce and all the people I care about who live through separation and divorce. It’s knowing I’m not an expert and I don’t want to say I have some secret that will make your significant other relationship easier. It’s something Jenni said at group that stops me from writing this post: people in relationships are always asking themselves if the work they put into the relationship is worth what they are getting out of it. Are we getting love and companionship and fun and a co-sharing of the workload from our significant other? But what if the question isn’t whether we’re getting as much as we’re giving, but whether we can reconcile ourselves to not getting everything we want. If what we do get is enough, and we can accept the parts of our partners we wish were different.
When we are caring for children with unconditional love in the equation, can we admit that we ponder the fact that marital love doesn’t feel the same as that unconditional love? I just finished reading “The Japanese Lover” by Isabel Allende, and I earmarked a quote that jumped off the page at me: “…in marriage, nothing is unconditional.”
The fact is that being in the Badass Mama’s circle has lead me to focus more on my relationship with my husband. In September, Jenni asked us to pick what Michael Hyatt calls “life accounts” to focus our attention this year. My relationship with my husband is one of my prioritized life accounts. I’ve been more prescriptive: doing tasks recommended by Dr. John Gottman with my husband to strengthen our relationship. We’ve tried 6-second kisses or hugs as a greeting to each other after being apart all day. We’ve given each other ten minutes to vent about our lives most days, focusing on listening instead of giving advice or judging each other. 
Still, as we use these prescriptives from an expert, I’m slowly figuring out that my husband and I are learning how to adapt and bend these to our own liking. And that each of these “activities” leads us into our intention for connection. We want to be close to each other, and even if we fumble and laugh at the idea of a 6-second  passionate kiss, making each other an active part of our daily to-do list feels good.
Mostly, though, I’ve been thinking about something Jenni said months ago about approaching conflict with a slighting different mindset. She said it’s easiest to come alongside our partner, thinking of ourselves as a team facing difficulty together instead of facing off in battle. In essence, lay those weapons down and take a deep breath knowing you are on each other’s side. Ahh, yes, it’s like a quote I love from the poet Nayyirah Waheed, “If we must both be right, we will lose each other.”
Which is exactly why I’ve struggled to write this blog about partnering. Because you know what, divorce happens in 50 percent of marriages. Who am I to write  about love and partnering, a many-splendored but complicated affair? I may not be an expert who can provide a generalized theory that would save others from divorce, but I am beginning to claim my expertise on my own marriage.