Friday, May 23, 2014

Happiness is a Bigger Bed

The discussion starts like this:

“Could you move your elbow?”

“No, there’s no place for me to put it.”

“You’re on my side.”

“No, I’m not. I’m right on the edge of the bed. Look—you’re taking up more than your half!”

“No, I’m not—I’m hanging off my side…”

And on it goes as my husband and I bicker about space while we read in bed before we go to sleep. He’s bigger than I am, but does that mean I should give up my comfort so he can have more room? And in turn, why do I insist on a strict 50-50 division, even though we are not equal in size?

Don't forget room for me...
It occurs to me this little argument is a sort of parallel for marriage, or any close relationship for that matter: Each person struggling for territory of his or her own while trying to stay together in a finite space.

Is there a solution? Yes, and it’s simple:

Buy a bigger bed.

Or, create a relationship that gives both parties more room. Look for the win-win.

Too often we get caught up in our own points of view, in believing we’re right and our partner is wrong, when really, we’re both right. Working this out takes awareness and flexibility. We need to be aware of our true needs, our partner’s needs and what the situation calls for. One person shouldn’t have to make all the sacrifices, and both should feel free to make their needs known. We shouldn’t always cling to our “rights” OR always be the one who bends and accommodates. We lose flexibility when we establish arbitrary rules. This means we must also feel that we’re worthy of our space, needs and wants and that they matter as much as our partner’s. As much as, not more than.

Of course, balance in relationships is a constantly moving target. That’s one of the great things about a relationship—being aware of the other person’s needs and supporting him, and having your own needs supported in turn. Learning how to perform this balancing act is a challenge, but one worth mastering if we want to live happily with another. After 26 years of marriage, I’m still working on it.

How do you create win-win situations in your life?

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4 comments:

Laure Ferlita said...

Cute shot of Scout!

It's all about flexibility, compromise and respect. A willingness to speak up for myself and to share my thoughts goes a long way. He feels the same.

Oh, and forget the hope that my mate is a mind reader—he's not. It goes better if I just tell him straight out what I need.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Laure--I don't know why we (I) continue to think that he can read my mind, or even that I know what he's thinking. As a family, we're actually kind of working on expressing what we need before it becomes a crisis.

Cheryl Gebhart said...

That conversation sounds familiar! Every time we travel, I try for a king size bed; we have a queen, and it just isn't big enough (at least I don't think so - my DH would disagree).

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Cheryl--Both my husband and I would love a king size bed and we're thrilled to get one on vacation. The only thing that's stopping us buying our own is that we have a really good mattress that we both find comfortable. We're willing to put up with a little crowding because of it. At least for now!