They say stranger things have happened, but I’ll let you decide. Let’s see, how do I go about telling you, without my blog becoming so personal that you’re like ‘TMI, Kalyn, TMI!” (TMI – too much information, as in you’ve given too much). On the other hand, the wonderful thing about reading is that you are offered a vicarious journey as you see through the windows of someone else’s life. So, here goes.
Agreements Are Rarely Broken
I don’t remember having this thought, which is often the case, but yesterday I suddenly had an epiphany about one of my best friends growing up. Long story short, we met in 3rd grade but around college her agreement about me kicked in. She took on the mindset of her new school and I was no longer good enough. We are still friends, and still have an annual phone call, but since going to a private college she’s never seen me as an equal.
Unlike legal contracts, people make relationship agreements which they rarely break. They enter unwritten and unspoken agreements (which can be subconscious –mostly- or conscious) in which they play a role with one another. As children it was a bit different, but once my friend was older and more aware of agreements, I was less-than because one agreement at her private college was that they were superior to others. For a long time I have been a token friend, what else could I be? Like I said, we communicate once a year, at best. We aren’t even FB friends (and if that doesn’t show the frailty of our friendship, what would?).
Then all of a sudden I think of a girlfriend who dissolved her marriage last year. She was expecting to stay close to her husband, but now I understand why her relationship with her ex has degraded, why he isn’t being so nice to her anymore: my friend’s marriage paralleled my old elementary school friendship. He’s like my 3rd grade friend! It’s totally not true (just metaphorically), but you could say that my girlfriend’s marriage had the same kind of agreements as my friendship with my best friend in 3rd grade! In both relationships (her marriage and my childhood friendship) the original agreements have been broken, breaking these relationships like shattered glass.
Shattered glass? Why so drastic? Isn’t shattered glass un-fixable? Yes and that is why I’m painting that picture. My girlfriend, call her Blue (a random name to keep anonymity), really threated to shatter her husband’s existence although she thought she was just ending the marriage. But it was much more than their relationship in his eyes. To him, she was also rejecting who he was. See, initially when they got together, he was better than her (like my elementary friend who decided she was better than me during college), because Blue and I were judged to come from lesser upbringings. I say judged because that’s all it is, a judgement, and you have to be a psychologist to really say whether one family’s conditioning is better or worse than another. That could be a blog, or a book, itself, so suffice it to say that my upbringing wasn’t perfect, nor was hers or anyone else’s. On the other hand, I didn’t go to a private college, which diminished how she saw me, regardless of what public college I went to and how well I did. Judgments are never logical or fair; they are only about making the judge feel better about themselves.
You are who you choose to be; granted, your experiences affect your choices. If you are going to be judged, it should be based on who you are and the choices you’ve made. Back to Blue:
Well, Blue’s husband came as his own package (and we all have our own package, or you can call it baggage). You might have brown hair and green eyes, believe in God or ghosts and hold countless other values and beliefs that people close to you are not allowed to discredit or disprove. Blue’s husband believed his roots were superior including the people, their beliefs and values, that was his package. Blue initially agreed, and agreement was what their relationship was initially built on. In the agreement he was wise and made good choices, despite anything contradictory that reality might have presented. He would make the choices, since he was wiser, and she would agree because at the time she didn’t have enough faith in herself and leaned on him to make good choices in life. This was his contribution and his role in the marriage, hers were different. For many years this is how their relationship worked which meant he set the spending budgets, he decided how much money they saved and he chose what religion their daughter was going to follow and where they went on vacation. You can’t blame him though because this was what they had unconsciously agreed on. Initially this is what she liked about him, this was what she valued that he brought to the relationship.
So, years later when Blue was becoming more of her own person (mind you, with her own package because, like I said, we all come as a package), this caused waves. She was no longer so quick to agree that her husband was always right. She actually thought she was right some of the time (go figure) and she wanted to spend however much she needed or saw fit when shopping or at dinner. She had ideas now about their finances and making positive changes. Finally, Blue decided that she had value in and of herself and that her ideas were just as brilliant and valid- maybe better. She wanted to make some of the decisions that governed their lives, and certainly wanted to make decisions regarding things that directly affected her life.
Well this was trouble because Blue was amending their relationship agreements so this caused waves in their marriage, but they weathered the storm. When the waves became larger still, she wanted more from life and moved out because, she felt, he didn’t respect her, value her and her ideas.
Blue didn’t just end the marriage, she inadvertently threated everything that her husband believed; she threated his package, the very foundation of his life. In essence, she was saying that his package was filled with ideas that she no longer believed, could follow or could validate. She saw that she wanted more and wanted to have more power over herself and in her marriage; from his perspective, she didn’t just reject him, she rejected everything they had believed in and valued for many years. Worse still, she rejected the personality aspects that he valued most about himself and, for no good reason that he could see, she changed because now her values (valuing him) had changed.
And that, my friend, is why relationships are tricky. There’s always more going on that meets the eye, but few see it. People think that they want to feel more loved and leave their marriage when it’s really about wanting more empowerment and validation, in this case.
I was similar, I didn’t agree that my elementary friend was better than me, because I was too naïve to realize that this was in question. I also wasn’t keen enough to be aware that my school was not as exclusive as hers, since mine carried plenty of clout too (if you asked me). Back then I was in a bit of a world all my own. Please don’t feel sorry for me, I’ve done my share of judging too and I certainly didn’t feel victimized by her. As a matter of fact, I always figured we just grew apart because I didn’t really jive with the choices she made in life, so I didn’t recognize what was really going on at the time. Ironically, I was right, we did grow apart because the initial relationship agreements changed which broke the friendship. I was just clueless as to why and how she perceived me (and still does).
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
Remember that game of pulling petals from a flower to find out whether or not you are loved? Poor flowers… Talk about nonsense.
There is no flower’s petal that I can pull to tell me what will happen next…
See, the agreements in my marriage are changing. I have seen my husband’s behavior changing over the last couple of months and it was making a part of me insecure. Then I realized that the part of me that is feeling insecure is feeling this way because it sees the agreements in our marriage changing.
Agreements form the basis of any relationship because we use them to define and determine our understanding of how we are to relate to the other person. Agreements come in all forms: I’m the mother and I’ll take care of you, you’ll do as I say; you’re the boss and you’ll tell me what to do, I’ll do it; I’m the waiter and I’ll take your order, you’ll order food – but don’t break that agreement by asking me if you can keep the specialty dish that the crème brule comes in because our agreement is for me to bring you food, not help you steal dishes!
People don’t like it when you try to change or break agreements because then they no longer know how to relate to you or, worse still, they don’t know how to think of themselves when new agreements threaten to dis-spell their beliefs and values about themselves.
For these reasons relationship agreements rarely change and, when they do, both people have to agree to change and take on new agreements. You can see this at play when you watch improvisation actors: when improvisation topic changes, they take on new agreements which can come across as new mannerisms, new things they say about themselves, new ideas they bring forward – even a new voice or clothes! The other actors have to go along and react, changing the agreements about the role they are playing too.
When only one person is changing the agreements, whether the changes are beneficial or, the relationship often ends because the other person isn’t ready or willing to change their agreements.
For K and I, one of our core relationship agreements is that we’ll do what is best for ourselves and our personal development above all. Sometimes this is a wonderful thing because we are, thus, both dedicated to being better people today than we were yesterday and this has positive effects on the other. It can also be hard at times, like now, because I see K changing and improving his life. I’m glad and it is a wonderful thing, but he is making new agreements with himself an his life. How will those agreements affect our relationship agreements? What will happen to me?
The Same Ride
When two people are sharing their hearts and souls, they change together. Your love and your lives are intertwined and when you have become soulmates (because you have bared your soul to one-another and merged physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically), and soulmates often grow together. You will share dreams and adversities, and you will evolve your relationship agreements as needed because in a lot of ways, you are a one.
K and I have always grown together. Often one of us will take a step or two forward, but this creates a force that helps brings the other forward too so that we end up side-by-side again. We tend to want to head in the same directions in life and we tend to have the same desires (almost at the same time), like when we both decided that we wanted to move to Florida after building our dream home in Santa Fe.
This time, however, we are working on ourselves. See, each person still has to be their own person. People get carried away with the idea that you become a one and they don’t realize that this one has two wholes, like the yin and yang symbol. We each have to be our own person, dedicated to our own development and our own lives, to then come together to make a whole.
We work on ourselves all of the time, but it is different this time. I can tell that the changes he is undergoing are highly beneficial and that they are re-defining his world. I can tell that things will never be the same again – on the other hand, things always change. Another paradox: relationship agreements rarely change, there’s always change and the changes occurring now are rare. I’m all about navigating those paradoxes because somewhere they make sense and they make life work out in ways that are always better than I could have imagined.
The Teachable Moment
Life is change, it’s never not changing. People who don’t like change are threatened by it because it might force them to see themselves or their lives differently. It will certainly force you to have a different experience. Who can blame those who don’t like change? Sooner or later, life does threaten you. The difference between people who seem to do well with and like change versus those who don’t is that the people who like change are more invested in themselves. That’s to say that they are more connected with who they are and, at deeper levels, you are who you are and no one can take that away from you, not even life (or death).
When you are confident and you believe in you, then the only changes life can bring are beneficial changes. Then it really is all good and only getting better.
The most important agreements that you hold are the agreements about yourself. Be sure that you are uplifting you and being good to you. Be sure that you like you or make changes so that you do.
Because life is always happening and changing. To tap into the flow and live the riches of life you have to realize that regardless of what happens, your experience is always a better one when you’ve agreed to do what’s best for you and what helps you grow and evolve as you journey through life.
Read Blue2, part 2 of this blog-lesson on Agreements