“The deepest sense of life’s meaning and purpose arises from our interdependence and, in turn, our willingness to relate to others and respond to their needs.” Hugh Mackay
I’ve been single and independent for so long that I‘m pretty much set in my ways. My current life requires little to no compromise. I do what I want when I want. I eat what I want when I want. I stay out as late as I want and wake up when I want. I buy what I want without having to be accountable. I enjoy quietness when I want and listen to chatter when I want. Indeed being single and independent has its perks, but being in a relationSHIP with someone other than yourself is NOT one of them. As I pondered being single, I wondered if it were possible to be independent within a relationSHIP. I then realized that if I ever wanted to change my single and independent status, I’d first have to change my mindset. I needed to modify my thoughts. I had to start thinking “US” instead of “ME.” Is it necessary to change our mindsets to be in relationSHIPS? Do you have an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET? I DON’T!!! But, I know in order for me to be in a relationSHIP, I need to change my MINDSET. So for this week’s blog, let’s talk SHIP about the importance of developing an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET!!!
Last week while watching the Lifetime TV show, Married At First Sight, where the experts match mates who for the first time meet each other at the altar on their actual wedding day, I was surprised when two of the brides expressed their desire to maintain their independent lives within their marriages. Is that even possible? One of the women was matched with a firefighter who is frugal and not into designer labels. Yet, he was matched with a woman who is extremely materialistic and is accustomed to spending a bunch of money on designer clothes and doesn’t see why she shouldn’t continue doing so especially since she can afford her expensive taste and lifestyle independently. Can that work? The other bride lives in an apartment and has poor credit. She married a man that is financially savvy, owns 3 homes, and is willing to assist her in getting her credit on track by creating a budget for her. Instead of accepting the wisdom, he’s willing to provide, she feels as if moving into his house, and suggesting a budget is robbing her of her independence and is an attempt to control her. Both of these women had been single for a while and focused primarily on their personal independence and now that they are married don’t seem to understand the importance of working as a team and considering the thoughts of others. Neither of these women was ready to be in a relationSHIP let alone a marriage because they hadn’t developed an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET. They may have signed up to be married but appear to be unwilling to trade their independence for INTERDEPENDENCE. How can that be?
The very nature of relationSHIPS is based on INTERDEPENDENCE. INTERDEPENDENCE is defined as “the mutual dependence of two or more people or things on each other.” It involves a balance between self and others within the relationSHIP. It recognizes that both partners are working to be present and are meeting each other’s physical and emotional needs in appropriate and meaningful ways. Trading independence for an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET doesn’t mean that partners become demanding or controlling of one another. It doesn’t mean that our partners are responsible for our feelings of validation or worthiness. On the contrary, INTERDEPENDENCY gives both partners a place to maintain a sense of self and personal identity. It gives them the space to learn, trust, and understand each other. Having an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET provides the room and the safety within the relationSHIP to be vulnerable enough to support each other during difficult times and the assurances that they can and will work through those times together. INTERDEPENDENCE promotes teamwork and emphasizes the notion that it takes two. It requires compromise. It requires that our thoughts, dreams, and desires are merged. It requires that we trust and support each other. All of which can be frightening and foreign experiences for someone who has been single for a while.
Truth is, having a sense of independence is valuable but singleness, if not careful, can allow us to take independence to an extreme that can get in the way of how we emotionally connect to and with others. It also leaves us uncertain how to build that kind of emotional bond within relationSHIPS, like the brides on Married At First Sight. But how do we practice having an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET when single? How do we get that cozy, safe, long-term bond with someone who will have our back for the long haul? How do we find that relationSHIP that would give us the freedom to be ourselves, that supports our growth, and allows us to have flexibility with each other? To have that, we must be willing to let go of our independence and develop an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET.
But how can we practice having an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET being single? That’s simple!!! We work to lessen our independence by incorporating those healthy INTERDEPENDENCE qualities displayed in successful relationSHIPS while we are sailing on the other SHIPS in our lives. How? We establish healthy boundaries. We practice active listening. We communicate clearly. We accept personal responsibility. We can be open and approachable. We can be engaged and responsive to others. We can seek to understand rather than to be understood. Being single, we can change our mindset by unlocking our minds, and by doing so, we are preparing for our next relationSHIP and developing an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET!!!
SHIP TALK: Do you have an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET? Do you believe you need an INTERDEPENDENCE MINDSET in relationSHIPS?
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