Here is my side of the story.
Jane often writes how much she appreciates me as a husband. How open I am, how I can receive all the love she has to give and how much I support her. I thought you might like to hear what is like from the other side.
First I have a confession to make – I am the teacher’s pet. You see I met Jane in one of her early dating classes back in July 2000. It was three years since my last divorce and all the ways I had known how to find a relationship was not working.
You would think that a guy who was married three times before would know how to find his next relationship. Well maybe what had worked previously wasn’t working because some part of me knew that I didn’t want to create yet another marriage that wouldn’t work out. I needed a new approach or so I came to discover (originally my ego really didn’t want me to enroll in this class, but thank God another part of me won out).
So what did I learn during the class? First I learned that we spend more time figuring out what we want when we are buying a car or a computer than when we are looking for a relationship. I, like many, thought that the “heart would just know” when the right person came along. Well three failed marriages proved that approach obviously wasn’t working.
The second thing I discovered was that I had to understand at a fairly deep level who I was, what was important to me and who I was willing to be in relationship. So armed with knowing who I was, what I was bringing to the party and what I wanted from a partner that would serve me best, I was ready to go out there and find my next relationship.
Well during the class we had a chance to practice how to be with another in ways that honored them and would allow me to find out if we would be a fit for what I wanted to create in my life. And sometimes I got to practice with Jane. And each time we would have a practice session, I discovered how much Jane was matching what I wanted, and I guess I was matching what she wanted because right after the class ended we started the next phase of discovering if we were the right life partners for each other. And of course we were, and still are.
What amazed me about her program was how quickly we got to know about the important things that mattered. Things that usually showed up months after I was already in a relationship, sometimes after we were already married. Attributes about her and me that if I was better equipped to identify early on would have told me I was marring the wrong person. But now armed with such tools and having the opportunity to practice them with Jane I began to see what a possibility Jane was for me. What are the attributes that I learned about Jane and that to this day I am so appreciative about?
First she showed me early on that she really appreciated me for who I was, not for someone she wanted me to be. What a gift this is in my life. In moments when I am feeling insecure and I reach out and ask if she still loves me she will often reply with “are you breathing, that is all you have to do for me to love you.”
Can you imagine what that means to a guy who is always wrapped up in feeling like I have to perform just right to be loved? This creates in me such a feeling of being supported that goes so deep, it goes to the knowing that being who I am, going after what I want and what is important to me, pleases my partner. As I said, WOW, what a gift.
And her way of being appreciative of me just as I am taught me the real nature and value of appreciation. This has become one of the cornerstones of our relationship.
I often say that appreciation is like making a deposit in a bank. The more I share how much I appreciate her, the larger the account grows. Then when the inevitable struggle with something in our relationship comes along, I can go to the appreciation bank and make a withdrawal. With a large accumulated deposit of appreciations it is easy to remember all the good things we have and that makes it easier to get through that period of growth.
The second thing about Jane I so truly adore is a little difficult to put a name to it. I might call it her willingness to grow, or I could call it her authenticity, or maybe her commitment to her life and our relationship. And I guess it is all of that.
Jane is committed to her growth, and she is willing to see herself in an authentic way (true honesty with herself) and she is most definitely deeply committed to the “Us-ness” the living being we call our relationship. I knew this about her from the exercises we did together in class, and saw it blossom, in fact I continue to see it blossom, everyday of our relationship.
Jane has written about some of the challenges we have faced and the lessons she has learned from them. I can tell you that these are not simply intellectual learnings. These are learnings that come from living what she is teaching.
I can also say that she teaches what she is living. For Jane, life is a classroom and she is her own most demanding teacher and also her best student. I know a lot of coaches and teachers out there. I have been in the consulting and coaching field for over 25 years, and many are teaching what they most need to learn. What Jane teaches is what she has already learned and is sharing those lessons with those who want to be supported on their own journey.
I don’t know if I saved the best for last, or I am sharing the thing that makes all the other things work so well. Jane is, at her heart a playful being. It is more than just being silly at times, which she does so well, it is the lightness that she brings to my life.
I am a mathematician and engineer by training and background. My analytical problem-solving side is highly developed. In fact I used to think that I not only had to solve the problems in my relationship to make it better, I had to attack them with all the seriousness of solving a nuclear disaster. What I learned from Jane was, yes we would have challenges to face, but facing them was not a problem that had to be fixed, but a fun game of growing through them.
In fact it was during the last class that cinched it for me. We sat next to each other as her partner was explaining what was next and what else was available to us now that we had gone through level 1 of their programs. And as we sat there we started to do this really silly, child like thing of poking each other. We giggled like two teenagers sitting in class making faces at the teacher.
While I didn’t know at the time how significant this aspect of Jane would be in the relationship that was to come I really enjoyed how much she could be silly, giddy and downright playful, at the drop of a hat. It turned out that this ability to bring humor to a situation would help me move from seriousness to lightness and also became one of the core foundations of our relationship.
So I guess I just described the three legs that hold up our relationship and why Jane is so perfect for me. Her ability to truly appreciate me and to help me remember to share the appreciation I have for her. Her commitment to live her life of growth and discovery with authenticity. And the fun playful way she lives her life brings lightness to my life and to our relationship.
Of course this is not the complete list. I could go on and on about the many ways she contributes to my life. Yet, I feel these three are the core from which everything else flows. I know it is what I love and appreciate so deeply about Jane. And why she is the perfect partner for me.
Thank you my love for being such a wonderful teacher for me, not only in the class I took with you so many years ago, but for the class we live everyday together in our relationship.
Your loving and adoring husband who appreciates and cherishes the life we have and continue to create.