The idea of a stable healthy relationship has always been so far fetched that in my 16 years with him, all I knew was how much he hurt me and all I ever wanted is for that to stop, all I wanted was for the nice moments to last just a tad longer than they did and for me to prove to myself that my choice in him was right. As sad as that is, up until very recently, I would have settled for only that.
Perhaps because I never gave my self the right to want something, I was somehow taught that I had to be to deserve, that I had to be to merit happiness, that I should be grateful because I was nothing…
From my passive seat, I forgot to ever wonder what I wished for in a partner, what are my basic needs? let alone what a satisfying healthy relationship means… what I wanted or needed or craved in a relationship?… I know that I don’t want selfishness, insults, gas-lighting, abuse, blame, dismissals… and most probably I don’t believe in loving relationships that much!
So what do I wish for… if I ever dared to get into one!
I probably should want the basics, since I never had that: Intimacy and passion, sharing of responsibilities and support, good communication, respect and empathy… See I didn’t even get the basics! I never gave myself permission to have the right for the basics! Check out Sternberg’s Theory of Love
Not just sex. I want to be able to share parts of myself that I don’t usually share with people outside the relationship, good and bad, weak and selfish, exposed and mean. The things that I ordinarily tend to keep to myself because they make me vulnerable. I want the privilege to be so close to someone and be able to share secrets that no one else knows.
Because sex by itself I did have… and it was good sex, but only animalistic! Even during sex, I always feared that he had his judgment hat on; he might just turn around and call me a pervert or filthy… why take that risk? A lot of it, wasn’t that passionate either, we would sometimes fuck for hours, but not one kiss! We’d get up and that was that! Before marriage it was all passionate and intimate, but it kept going down the drain after… he would call me bland and not creative and selfish in bed! He would come on to me when i was sick or tiered or right after a fight, and then get angry if I said no.
So yes I do want a partner I could have an adventurous sex life with… but a real adventurous one, real intimacy, real passion. The kind in which I would have the freedom to be myself… without the judgments or fear or feeling insecure… the kind that would like to experiment, the kind that would appreciate my sexuality and not try to tame it, in the name of protection or jealousy!
I would like to have someone affectionate as well, those little words or tiny gestures, physical connection. My husband hated PDA, even holding my hands in public was unnatural for him. “I won’t give you a compliment, just because you want to hear it”.
I want to be able to be truly myself, truly open; speak my mind, feel my feelings… no judgments or criticism or ridicule. I don’t want to be defensive anymore, I don’t want to have to choose my words, count my questions, be aware of my body language at all times… I don’t want to have to change who I am, or be conscious of who I am. I most defiantly do not want to be afraid again!
I want someone who sees me for who I am and still wants me. Someone I can show all my sides, positive and negative and not hide. Someone, to whom I can be truly intimate with; bare my naked soul, body and mind and feel grace in return.
Oh yes, support.
I would like to have someone who would encourage me, compliment me every now and then, tell me I’m hot every now and then, make me feel desired and not just because he’s horny and wants to fuck. Someone who would help be me be my better self. I want someone who believes in me, even when I don’t believe in myself… Someone who would value me even more than I do myself… to help me grow, to be there morally and emotionally, to have my back; not orders and judgements attached to a bank account! well given where I am, anything would do, since right now my self worth is below zero.
I would look at spouses and couples complementing and appreciating each for regular things. On the other hand, my husband used to scrutinise me when I dared to ask him for help, whatever the situation was: during my pregnancy, or taking care of our toddler, while carrying our second child in a foreign country without a car or help and finishing my masters, or commuting everyday for a year without a car with the kids, or sick in the emergency room. He was never my emergency contact, even medically, upon his request. He would call me a burden, make fun of me when I got sick! He only started to appear after the separation and even then, he’d appear physically, but make feel like a burden for having be there. So I guess I would take anything above that!
I would also like to be with someone who would appreciate the help or support I give, even if he doesn’t agree and would never go by. My husband never appreciated nor accepted any advice I gave him, even about things I supposedly knew more about. He treated me like an ignorant airhead, who he always knew better than, was better. However, I always had to accept whatever support or advice he gave as orders, orders I just had to obey, without objection or discussions.
I am indecisive! Maybe due to all the traumatising criticism; I get self conscious given any choice, any decision. What would people think of my choice? Or maybe also the fact (I have very recently discovered btw) that I have a very illogical fear of regret. Anyhow, I keep weighing the pros and cons. I keep having in endless hypothetical mental conversations to defend the reasons for each pro and con. I would like to have a partner who understands that, who would help me with those trivial choices, and not get angry if I chose differently… Just a simple conversation that would make my life so much easier… Not brutally torment me into a decision or mock me for researching too much.
As minor as that be; I want someone to want to help make my life just a tad easier… to help me close a zipper… put on a necklace… change a light bulb… call a plumber… take my car to the service every now and then! Not because I’m lazy or disabled or cannot do that myself, like I was always accused of, but because it’s a nice thing to do. My whole marriage, I waited for these small gestures.
I don’t want to compromise in that anymore, I want to be with someone, with whom a conversation is easy… even if we do not agree, the conversation is easy. Speaking my mind is easy, not have imaginary calculated mental conversations with before I utter a word, because I am afraid that it would not come and bite me or he’d use it against me!
I want to feel safe, to be able to converse without holding grudges; simply someone who would hold the best interest of the relationship above his own.
I no longer want to shamed or blamed, or frustrated, or shut up or ridiculed for my values and opinions, nor ever again judged for who I am. I want to be heard; my words, emotions, my feelings heard. I want someone who would apologise for hurting me, even if he didn’t mean to… just out of kindness and care.
Because the scale was so tipped in his favour, I began holding an account of who did what for the other, who sacrificed what, when and how he hurt me… I held resentments and grudges and a baggage, and I never want to do that again. I want it to be fair, for him to be fair… I want empathy and compassion.
I want predictability… I would want to know the person I’m with, what he likes and dislikes, what triggers him, what turns him on, what pisses him off… I want to be able to read him, to know what to expect, the good, the bad and the ugly. In 16 years with my husband, I was never able to read him! The same action that would set him on fire at times, he would completely let go of at other times, given the exact same circumstances. He was unpredictable and I could never read him… his eyes gave the same look, happy be it or angry, horny or annoyed … red lines would move up and down the scale unexplained. I no longer want to second guess…
With love, we never feel lonely, even when alone. With him I was lonely even when together, I always felt silenced, I was never asked how I was doing, or if I needed anything, or what’s wrong… until by time I began losing parts of myself piece by piece… Not just lonely, but imprisoned. I would rather feel lonely but free alone, than with someone!
Yes… I want respect and fairness… someone with whom I would to feel safe, with my imperfections and insecurities and all, where he would not use it to scrutinise me or hurt me or shake me, who would not try to put me down. I would not accept, someone who would ever raise a hand or his voice at me ever again. I will never accept abuse again… mantras I tell myself a lot, because abuse broke me!
We are all different, however valuing and respecting each other’s differences and boundaries and shortcomings is what makes a healthy relationship. I want a relationship that nurtures and embraces our qualities, without the attempt to control on another, without trying to squash our individualities because it threatens a partner when they don’t see things their way. A relationship with someone who would not put me down or tries to make me like him, because that’s the only way they are comfortable.
My husband wasn’t a liar nor a cheater, I would give him that. But that had nothing to do with me, that was his own moral compass. But I do value honesty, someone who would respect me enough to be honest with me no matter what, or no matter how much that would hurt me!
Of course, I would be nice if we shared key life issues: family values, raising children, religious and spiritual life, even politics. Having a similar way of looking at life creates a shorthand way to relate to each on important issues. However, even if we disagreed, judgment should always be off the table.
Someone who is generous with time, like a lot of things, I learnt that the hard way. He was always very cheap of his time with me, time with me other than to fuck, was wasted time, no matter how much I wanted to talk, no matter how much I really missed him or needed him. I had to think carefully, talk fast and when asking a question, it should always be to a yes or no reply. He would storm out, hang up… he could talk for hours without a break, of course, I wasn’t allowed to interrupt, and whenever I was to say something, it had to be short.
Right now I am giving myself permission to dream of a healthy relationship, even if i’m not ready for one and even if I should not expect one, but just the mere permission is a step!