My husband and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary this month. I will post some photos in the facebook group. We’ve been married for 6 years and together for 9 years now and I have to say, I have never felt so loved and so valued and so seen as I feel with this beautiful man. And trust me, I have been in several long-term relationships before this one. And I want to share my story because if you aren’t experiencing this level of love and appreciation in your relationship or if you’re still looking, you deserve to know what I have learned about getting the love you really want and keeping it.
For me, after two failed marriages I woke up to the fact that I was going about relationships all wrong. I was trapped in the same story of me giving and giving to the point of resentment. I always ended up feeling unappreciated and lonely in relationship, so eventually I would just leave. And I remember one of my partners telling me, as I was walking out the door with my bags in hand, he said “someday I hope you will let someone take care of you”. I had no idea what he meant by that. I mean, I was leaving because I didn’t feel like I was getting what I needed from him. I assumed it was because of his short-comings, not mine.
Sure enough, my next relationship was no different. After 10 years of feeling like a servant, I left. Only this time, I decided to take a long break from relationship. I just didn’t trust myself to choose a partner who would be healthy for me.
I remember reading a quote by Byron Katie during that time that put me on a new path: “Be the love of your life”. Those words hit me like a ton of bricks, I wasn’t loving myself. So I spent a couple of years focusing on being present for myself in the ways I desired a partner to be there for me. I did nice things for myself and appreciated myself for all of it. And it felt so good, that after a while, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be in relationship at all! The life I created for myself was so much more fulfilling than anything I had ever experienced in relationship.
I want to pause here to note that for many people, being single is their ideal relationship choice. My point is that loving yourself is the foundation of a fulfilling and joyous life, regardless of whether you share it with anyone else.
For me, eventually I felt like it would be nice to have some company. I put together a 3-page list of all the qualities a partner would have to have in order for me even consider compromising the solo life I had created for myself. I remember showing the list to a friend of mine and she basically told me I couldn’t be so picky. But her response only solidified my stance that if I was going to be in relationship with someone else, I deserved all these qualities in my partner.
Well, I met my Jim 2 weeks later and he was and is everything on my 3-page list and so much more. He came in with so much love and appreciation for who I am and it has only grown from there. I had to learn how to treat myself with the level of love and attention I wanted from a partner - to the point that I didn’t actually need a partner to feel loved. And in doing so I became a magnet for a man who wanted to provide for me at that level.
I realized all those years of giving to relationships without allowing myself to receive wasn’t actually generous. Because if you’re not filling your own cup, you are giving from a place of lack, not abundance. I’ve also learned and coach from another way of viewing the balance between giving and receiving, both to yourself and to relationship.
Receiving is a feminine quality, and doing is a masculine quality. Like many of the women I have encountered in my lifetime, I spent most of my adult life relying on my masculine qualities to get by. Drawing on their inner masculine one of the ways strong women have learned to survive in a man’s world.
We all have within us both the feminine and the masculine, but living a harmonious life requires a healthy balance between these two very different energies.
Masculine energy, when it is healthy, provides a framework for the feminine to flow. When it’s imbalanced, it stifles the feminine altogether.
As I have mentioned before, one of the ways women have survived the patriarchy is to rely more heavily on our masculine traits as a defense, to the point of losing touch with our feminine gifts, like our ability to receive. Our partners might be baffled when it comes to providing for us when all our defenses are up and we are busy getting all the things done.
How is it possible for anyone to give to someone who is not receptive? It took me a decade and half to understand what that old boyfriend was trying to tell me. He wanted to give to me, but I wasn’t letting him in. I had an over-active masculine that was very busy keeping me safe and insuring I would be liked by everyone! To my own alienation and detriment.
There is nothing wrong with enabling the masculine and doing and getting shit done, but doing in excess creates an imbalance of the masculine/feminine inner balance.
Some of the work I do with my clients has to do with healing the wounded inner masculine and awakening a Divine inner masculine to lean into for support. And this is so key for women reversing the old conditioning of looking outside of ourselves for support instead of rooting that support from within.
So whether you are looking for your future partner or you have been in relationship for many years, shifting your focus toward giving yourself what you truly need will make all the difference in what you will start to see being reflected back to you.
When you source your needs outside of yourself, you become co-dependent on the external source, especially if that source is a partner. For instance: needing validation from others in order to feel validated. Needing love from others in order to feel loved. Needing protection from others in order to feel safe.
Empowerment comes when you source all of these needs back inside. Only then are you free to be yourself because you are no longer dependent on what anyone else thinks. Only then can you fully give and receive in a relationship.