The Ride will and (more often than not) should End.
It is the journey that matters.
My first real relationship lasted almost 10 years and started when I was in High School. Talk about holding onto something unhealthy and not letting go. Unfortunately, that spilled over into my professional life. I stayed committed for 14 years to my first “real” job. Looking back, there were so many lessons learned and the rides should have ended much sooner. I just didn’t have the heart to cut ties and take a scary leap into the unknown. While my rides are getting shorter, I still have an opportunity to better read signs and respect myself and my needs.
When involved in the ride, things are moving, likely changing and evolving. There is trust in the other, maybe that things will get better or even just be maintained. And, it might work out in your favor. There is comfort in staying. There is a love of what you have, even when it isn’t good for you. There is security in staying. The walls you have built for your closest relationships are safe with insulation. But what happens when obvious warning signs are ignored and you continue the ride past where the tracks end? Well…
Let’s just say, it’s not good. It will likely finish messy with an implosion of the life which you have grown accustom. By all means, I am not saying to leave at the first sign of trouble, but you and your partner (whether that partner is personal or professional) have to be open and willing to seek and accept help. There are self-help options, communication being the primary. Resources, usually, are in endless supply. Consider bookstores, online reading, seminars, and therapy. Take a literal count of contributions to ensure that responsibilities are equally shared. If there is a noticeable difference, fix it. If one person is handling the financial responsibility, supporting the other person emotionally, doing all of the life organization and giving all of the surprises, it is not going to end in happiness. The giving and excitement may mask underlying issues. Also, if your boss reduces your support team, provides you a smaller budget and tells you to make more happen in less time, there would need to be some negotiation. It is not fair that you would lose your personal life without any adjustments in salary or benefits. It is also not fair that you would lose your life savings while not being equally pampered by your partner. Pay attention. Treat yourself better. Acknowledge opportunities. Verbalize them. Negotiate, Collaborate, Compromise… but don’t compromise your happiness, your family or your health. If it does not improve, GET OUT!
I will be the first to admit, I am the worst at doing these things. I always push to make the relationship work. I live, love and work passionately. I, unapologetic-ally, give everything I have to give from the beginning until the end. Unfortunately, by the end I am pretty tapped out of giving ability. I am doing better about recognizing opportunities and sometimes verbalizing them. I completely bomb at the negotiating, collaborating and being uncompromising for the things that are most important in my life. In the end, I suffer. My heart breaks. I get completely burned out at work. Did the other person win? Maybe, if they were in it for the sprint and not the marathon.
So, what can you do? Pay attention. Continue to live passionately. Don’t be afraid, be fierce. Learn along the way. Start to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Balance them. Get better at recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of others. And… STOP taking less than you deserve!