Today as I was spending time with an article I wrote called 4 Relationship Lessons From 4 Years of Marriage and I had a scary and exciting thought.
I would totally do that again.
That’s not to say I would fall in love with Paula (my ex-wife) again, but if the circumstances were right, I’d happily get back on the same crazy, roller coaster of love that I got on five years ago—even if I knew it would end.
Another way of saying that is—I would happily make the same “mistake” again, because that’s often how we see relationships that end before death do you part.
But what a tragedy that is.
When we see our past relationships as mistakes we negate the beauty and the love that was shared. We turn our ex-partners into super-villains, whom we imagine spend all day scheming how they are going to ruin our life. One of the benefits to doing this is we can feel justified in saying “I picked the wrong person” as if somehow we didn’t need the essential lessons that relationship taught us.
That’s because we live under the collective illusion that relationships work through trial and error, that we simply date different people until it “works”—but that’s just us avoiding responsibility. We don’t want to admit how much those relationships helped us grow, because then we can play out the fantasy that we didn’t need those lessons in the first place — that we just made a “mistake”.
Think of someone who constantly talks bad about their ex-partners or who sees their past relationships as mistakes. Now consider rating them on how much they take responsibility for their own life.
If you were to give them a number between one and ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, what number would you choose?
Pretty low I imagine.
I don’t know about you, but as soon as I hear someone talking about their ex-partners as a mistake, I run the other way. That’s because I know that some day I’ll be that ex, and I’ll be talked about in the same way.
We dismiss our past relationships and blindly welcome the new one as “the answer”. We’re in love with the idea that the relationship road we’re on has ended and led us to our current partner.
It’s like that obnoxious Rascal Flatts song—God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you. I got news for y’all—that road is still broken, and trying to whitewash your past to say you’ve “arrived” is ignoring the fact that your current relationship is also here to teach you, just like the rest of them.
We’re all so eager to meet someone and declare “finally—I’ve arrived!” But that’s as crazy as singing “country” music with a spiked haircut reminiscent of a Supercuts ad from the late 90s.
So what’s the alternative?
The alternative is to take the gel out of your hair and stop turning country music into dumbed-down pop aimed at white college girls.
And on the relationship front, here’s my answer to that.
We need to let love win.
Oh Dave you’re such a cheese-ball! What’s that supposed to mean?
We need to stop thinking that we’ve got all this relationship stuff figured out and just let love have it’s way with us. We need to all agree that we don’t know what’s going on and that we’re on a need-to-know basis with the universe.
That means our future is uncertain, but only always.
Spending 4 years in relationship with Paula was one of the smartest things I ever did, and although it was filled with mistakes, it was also filled with growth—growth that continues to pay dividends to this day.
If I get lucky enough to do that again—how could I not be excited about that?