“If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never find it. If you don’t know what you deserve, you’ll always settle for less. You will wander aimlessly, uncomfortably numb in your comfort zone, wondering how life has ended up here.” Rob Liano
Lynne was only 24 years old when she met James. She had recently graduated college and was getting a masters in teaching at the time. James was six years older than Lynne and was nearing the end of his residency to become a pediatrician. He was kind and caring. He was solid and safe. He was smart, responsible and had a brilliant future ahead of him. He checked all the boxes of what she thought she was supposed to have in a partner and she easily saw how they could build a beautiful life together.
They live in a beautiful suburban home with their children, James has a successful practice doing what he loves, and Lynne is smart and beautiful – although she doesn’t see herself as others do. Lynne drives a Mercedes minivan, they rent a beach house every year and vacation in South Carolina, her kids go to a great school, and they’re thriving in all their after-school activities and sports. James would give her whatever she needs, and if she could tell him what to do to make her feel more loved, more alive and more worthy, he would do it.
We marry the one who won’t break our heart.
We stay with the one who everyone else thinks is a great guy.
We choose stability over passion because we don’t actually believe we can have both.
Then we end up in a mediocre marriage that we think should be good enough.
He doesn’t lie or cheat.
He doesn’t hit.
He doesn’t hurt. We barely even argue.
Which gives us no good reason to end a relationship. No one will understand and everyone will judge.
It’s so easy to see how we get here. Here, to this place of safety. Here, to this place of stability. Here to this place of having more than we need, but far less than what we want or desire or long for.
The safe marriage seemed like a good idea when we were younger.
At 24, Lynne didn’t really know about intimacy and connection. She didn’t know about vulnerability and passion. She didn’t have to at that time in her life.
I know this struggle personally because my first marriage at age 27 was to a nice, handsome and kind man who loved me.
No one teaches us this stuff. We didn’t learn about it in school. We didn’t learn it from watching others. And most of us didn’t learn it from our parents. There’s no manual out there to tell each of us the one way to navigate our most intimate relationships so that we avoid pain and stay in a state of love forever.
There was no lesson plan we missed or handbook we never picked up. We just didn’t know what we didn’t know. And we simply didn’t know that there’s a big difference between what we need and what we want. And the older we get, those whispers of what we want – what we want to feel and what we want to experience – get louder and louder.