The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Values & Beliefs

Occasionally, Teri and I talk about the ways that we are much better partners now than we were in the previous incarnations of ourselves and I have actually told many people that Teri is getting the best version of me yet. Of course, that does not mean that I am without flaws and foibles, but as a good friend of ours said recently, I know who I am now.  We are quite aware of who we are, what we believe in, what our triggers and sensitive points are, and what values guide us in our choices. While I know that both Teri and I consider ourselves continual learners and ever-evolving, there are just some things that start to feel right and comfortable and seem to be at the core of who we are.

When I was younger, I used to get caught up in trying to figure out what was right and best--often, it was the qualities or values that society defined as desirable that won out--even if they didn't feel right for the likes of me.  Life has taught me that there are myriad ways to go about just about everything and all I have to do is stay true to myself while staying open to alternatives.  In other words, people get to do what they want and all I really have to tend to is myself.

That said, neither Teri or I are the sorts of people who carry on about self-actualization or "getting our needs met."  Speaking only for myself, I value living my belief system through action and focusing on the health and good of the community above wallowing in personal work.  Of course, this comes with its challenges--I prefer to ignore people who are acting out with self-absorbed behaviors even while it is annoying me;  I have little tolerance for selfishness or people who don't do their part (and have a hard time not showing it); and I have incredibly high expectations of my own energy level for contributing.  Knowing these things, however, is actually a bonus--I can own up to the realities of how what I value and the things I believe in, guide my life.  And I can't blame anyone else!

When I was younger, I underestimated how important compatible values and belief systems can be in an intimate relationship.  Surely, much of it was that I had no idea who I was or what I stood for on any real level so how could I evaluate how well that matched up with someone else?  I also had no idea how strong of a guiding star my values and beliefs would be in my life.  We are all different and it wasn't until my thirties that I realized that I had to do work that I believed in, surround myself with close friends with whom I was ethically compatible, and pay attention to what felt in alignment on a community level.  When Teri and I chat about our evolution, she too has come into her own in terms of awareness and comfort-level in the past few years.  We both finally know enough to be able to articulate what matters most.

As an example, neither Teri or I are big on confrontation and not because we are unable to be direct (because we can both be quite direct if necessary.)  Valuing collaboration, manners and consideration more, Teri and I have chatted about how what other people see as being assertive, we view as rude and childish.  We would no more impose our requests and demands on someone else as float to the moon with an umbrella.  We know this about each other and while there may be some frustrations (at ourselves and each other), I actually appreciate this shared value.  I know that she understands if I am crabby in private about someone's behavior but pleasant in public, I am not being "hypocritical" as the self-actualized like to say, but ascribing to simple manners and compassionate behavior. At least, that is what feels right to me.

Of course, we are all still evolving (I hope.)  I haven't learned how to completely temper the judgment that comes with embracing my values and beliefs and I still do some soul-searching around how I experience the world.  For the first time in my life, however, I have a partner who both understands and loves me because of the values and beliefs I carry around in my tool belt and I feel the same about her! 

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