The Big Picture

The 18-Year Itch

For anyone who knows me, they will say that I’m a wanderer and an explorer. Or maybe that I just love airplanes. I recently heard from a colleague that after two decades in Portland, she and her husband were picking up and moving to South America for two years, the timing coinciding with her youngest child leaving the house.

This brought me back to my own hopes and dreams to do the same one day, how I sometimes count the years until my daughter and step-son will graduate high school, and I can go back to what I feel are my “roots,” which aren’t conventional roots at all, but a desire to see everything, go everywhere, be a part of this incredible world, with no attachment to a particular place. And all of this pondering brought me back to one of the keys to a successful relationship:

Do you and your partner see eye to eye in the big picture?

If you were to say to your partner that a month after your youngest child goes to college, you’re getting on an airplane to some exotic land, would he/she be in the seat next to you? If the answer is no, then maybe it’s time to have a conversation.

Share Your Dreams

After many years of observing couples and break ups and all the reasons for the conflicts, I think this lack of clarity of a joint “big picture” trumps the money, time, kids, lack of sex/intimacy and all other reasons for relationships to end. Because what is a relationship after all, but a commitment to go somewhere, do something, bigger than what you might do on your own? And if in all of your big dreams you envisage yourself alone, then you have to ask, what is this primary relationship really about? When I asked my first husband, after about 5 years together, where he saw himself 30 years from now, he told me “on a mountaintop, alone.” It was time to have that conversation, and time for me to realize that our paths were not parallel, and it was time to start letting go and eventually separate to discover what would support each of us in our long-term dreams/visions. It’s not easy, it takes some difficult conversations that can feel so sad. And yet, which is sadder? A life half-lived, where two people hold each other back by the fact that they don’t share the same dream? Or a life fully lived, with break-ups and separations, where people experience fully their individuality and reach their dreams? I’m still discovering, and still testing the waters, and I know for sure I don’t have the answers. But one thing I DO know, is that I prefer the latter. I have big dreams and my commitment to honest and authentic relationship, supports my long-term “big- picture” in becoming a reality…

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