There's No "I" in Team... But There's a "ME"

Living as a single woman for 30 years is not great training for becoming one half of a married whole. I grew up as an only child, played very few team sports and didn't have many long term, committed relationships. I'd happily go to dinner or to the movies alone, and I even did some traveling solo. It wasn't that I didn't play well with others; I just liked doing things my way. Individuality and independence were things that I valued. I'm figuring out now that living my life as such an independent individual provided very little preparation for being part of a team.

I knew going into this that a true marital covenant meant leaving behind my single self and joining with my husband to create a new identity. Not necessarily forfeiting who I was as much as encouraging myself to grow into part of something new. I knew that we would be sharing a living space, our finances, and all of our major decisions. Seemed easy enough.

Boy was I clueless! I had no idea how much marriage would impact everything in my life. There hasn't been much of the sharing that has been easy for me. My pride and my individuality have kicked and screamed from the get go. And I find myself in a pretty regular battle with my ego. I desperately want to focus less on what I want and more on what is best for us as a couple. But it is a real struggle. The battles range from the trivial (airplane pictures vs. Black and white photography) to a bit more important (spend $$ vs. Save $$) to monumental (bail on this town vs. Stick it out for a few years). Marriage is forcing my brain to function in a whole new way. Suddenly there is someone else to consider ALL THE TIME. His feelings, his desires, his needs are important to me. And often they don't line up all neat and tidy with mine! It’s time for compromise, it’s time to share. Life isn't a one woman show any longer, I now have to split center.

The other night, my old "individual" self reared its ugly head (again). I found myself in the middle of a temper tantrum over the silliest little thing ever. My husband, in an attempt to be helpful, had put everything in my change jar into coin rolls to take to the bank. Instead of being appreciative, I felt totally violated! It was ridiculous, I didn't want to share. Basically the whole thing boiled down to my confusing what is "mine" and what is "ours". When I finally stepped back to realize how inconsequential the $27 in change was compared to his financial contribution (that we're currently living off of) I felt like a total brat. When it comes to marriage, I’m fully prepared to take the perks of being part of a team, but not willing to sacrifice the control of being an individual. That is a truth that is a little bit embarrassing and a whole lot selfish.

I guess I didn't realize how empowered I felt being an individual and making my own decisions. Quite honestly, I detest listening to other's input (well, if it’s different than mine anyway. If you agree with me, I’m all ears). In the past, compromise made me feel weak. Being part of a team was somehow less impressive than doing it alone. Which partly explains my resistance. Marriage would be more comfortable for "me" if he would just step back and let me rule the roost. I wouldn't have to grow and learn at all if he'd just let me drive. (Oh man, don't even get me started on sitting in the passenger seat in the car!!!!)

But thank God, I married a man with a back bone. He actually has opinions and doesn't particularly like it when I disregard them. Plus, he fell in love with the individual me. He has no desire to see her completely squashed and run out of town. He understands that we both have things to contribute to our relationship. He seems to have this "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" thing down pat. He's absolutely turned my conception of compromise on its head. He's considerate, respectful, generous, and able to share so effortlessly. He chooses his battles and anticipates our needs incredibly well. My eyes have been opened because his compromises aren't weak. He exemplifies strength through teamwork. It is incredible.

I could learn a lesson or two from him. Right now, my lingering individuality is coming across as anything but strong. True strength would be to let go of the "me" of my past and embrace the blessing of the "we" of right now.

No comments: