By Lindy Earl
I don’t usually air much of my dirty laundry in my columns, and I could mask this story as an old roommate, but let me just say, this is about my ex-husband, and it goes way back to our first year of marriage. We remained married for 25 years, so it’s not like this terminated the relationship. It was a minor stop from which I learned.
About a year into our nuptials, I told my husband that, while I greatly appreciated that he folded the laundry (I really did!), the towels simply didn’t fit into the linen closet when folded in half and in half, so they all needed to be refolded into thirds. Would he be so kind to do so in future? I expected a simple, “Sure, babe, I didn’t realize.” What I received was, “Accept me as I am.”
What I heard was, “I am a 31 year old man, so entrenched in my towel folding habits that asking me to alter them at this point in my life is simply beyond acceptance.”
These five words, accept me as I am, seemed to slip into our conversation heavily during that time. We had just moved into a new home in a new state, and when I asked for something, I was told, “accept me as I am.” How does a newlywed respond to that?
With the benefit of almost 30 more years of experience, five of it divorced, I’ve learned that sometimes those words are perfectly acceptable. I am 5’6” tall. I have been told that I’m too tall to date by some men, and too short to date by other men. Accept me as I am – or don’t. Some didn’t, and that was the right decision.
I have been told that my children were the wrong age for some men to date me, because any children who aren’t launched and on their own will stifle a relationship. Accept me as I am – or don’t. Some didn’t, and that was the right decision.
The first example, my height, I can’t change. The second example, my children, I won’t change. When you get into a relationship with a person, it is imperative that you accept their family and the family accepts you.
There are, however, many examples of things that I can change, because they aren’t changing ME. They are simply idiosyncrasies. For instance, I’m a sports girl. This fall I’m looking forward to High School football on Friday nights, College on Saturdays, and Pro on Sundays. Yes, I will accomplish my yard work and chores around the games, so I’m not being a total couch potato.
If I were to date a guy who just isn’t a sports guy (they exist, I was married to one for 25 years), could I give up football in the fall? I can and did. I didn’t watch NFL for years, until my son became interested and the two of us would sit down with great football food and enjoy the game as well as the commercials. Being in Marketing my entire life, I like football commercials. I miss the Clydesdales. Liking football is not who I am, so I can change that.
Putting glasses on the lower shelf in the kitchen is not who I am, it’s just convenient for me since I’m 5’6”. If a significant other needed the glasses on a higher shelf, but still available to me, I would move them! Not a deal breaker.
We all have things in our lives that we can and cannot change. None of us are going to forsake our children. Some people will be unwilling to rearrange their closet. When a friend of mine remarried, her spouse moved into her house. He uses a closet in a different bedroom because the master bedroom closet is hers and she’s not changing it.
So, take time to discern what your dealer breakers are. If he wants to date a blond, are you willing to color your hair? If she wants to spend weekends horseback riding, will you go along for the ride?
Of course there are compromises! I can cut back on football or watch with friends. Maybe the horse girl could visit the farm while he’s busy with his hobby.
Just don’t set your feet in concrete over unimportant things. I do have some sticking points. I will not walk away from my Christian beliefs for anyone, and I just won’t grow any taller at this point in my life.
Oh, we did break that habit of saying, “Accept me as I am,” 25 years ago. The first time I responded with the words, “Accept me as I am,” the phrase disappeared from conversations.
That’s Life After Divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant. Contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com to speak at your Church, Organization, or Company. You can find and like her page on Face Book and join her FB support group, Single Again: From Devastation to Dating.