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Essentials Series: What I Learned from Getting it Right

An adult couple

Essentials: that which is absolutely necessary; fundamental elements or characteristics of something.

To support women who are looking for a long-term committed relationship, we in the Family of Women recommend creating their list of Essentials. It’s exactly how it sounds. It’s a personal and individual list of the qualities and characteristics, specific to that woman, that must be present for a successful committed relationship.

In Tik Tok parlance, they call it your ‘ick’, but this is not a wish list. This is not a laundry list for some perfect, infallible human to match your perfect, infallible self. It is a list of 5-10 qualities that, if not present, would be unacceptable. For example, because of my experiences with addictions in my family, addiction-free was a requirement. Being in recovery, no matter for how long, would not work for me. Honing this list requires being honest with yourself and sometimes some soul searching. You can read about my missteps in my previous blog, here.

11 years ago, as of this writing, I met my future husband. Armed with dictionary and thesaurus, my Essentials were locked in.  I re-read it repeatedly like a recipe I was trying for the first time, and it was a fit. He was a match and then some. But there was a snag: he was flawed. Like, a big flaw. I worried it was another false start, so I did what any one of us would do: I picked fights. I made him wrong. I wanted him to change. For me, for us, but mostly for me.

Then a moment of divine insight came to me: this was not a deal breaker. If it had been, it would have been on my list. I realized that I had an expectation that the perfect-for-me partner would have imperfections, yes, but only little ones that assured me he wasn’t created in a lab somewhere. There was a hierarchy of qualities and, somewhere between necessity up top and non-starter on the bottom, was this grab bag layer of imperfections that I would have to learn to live with if I was ever to have a long-term relationship with anyone. This truth was not only uncomfortable, but also very inconvenient.

I had done my due diligence. I had listened to the women I trusted and who had the kind of successful relationships that I wanted, and now I had a decision to make. Take the leap or take a pass on my husband.

In the end, it wasn’t hard to choose. I understood that the relationships that lasted got messy sometimes and I was clear that he had what it took to be my partner. Also, he was taking a risk on me. I know he knows I am flawed, but who I am is imperfectly perfect for him.

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