Some For You, Some For Me, All For Us

My husband and I have been together for about 12 years. When we first got together, we told each other all of our deepest, darkest secrets – all of the likes and dislikes and fears and desires that another person might hear and say “Ew. That’s weird.” Telling him these things made me feel I was testing him. If he could hear the worst about me and still want to be with me, then he really loved me. Hearing those things about him made me feel he was blessing me with things he couldn’t share with other people.

Somewhere along the line, it got harder to share things. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we keep secrets from each other, but we certainly went from “I love you and I want to share every single new experience with you” to “I don’t want to bother you with this, I know it’s not your thing.”

On the one hand, that’s a good thing. I think that every relationship goes through that initial phase where you’re pretending to like things the other person likes just to have an excuse to have more experiences together. Once you live with someone and get to experience them in uninterrupted stretches, there are things you can skip.

On the other hand, when you’ve been with someone for a long time, it’s easy to make assumptions that cut off what could be shared experiences. Assuming that your partner doesn’t like a pizza because one time you asked if they wanted some and they said “no,” or thinking that your partner’s dislike of a particular band equals hating an entire genre of music means that there are whole areas of potential shared experience that you won’t have.

My worry is that once you start cutting out shared experience, you start diminishing your relationship. You find other people to go out for pizza with, you start going to see your favorite band alone, and then you start building new communities that don’t involve your partner. The bigger worry is that the reason one person isn’t sharing is because they’re afraid. Afraid that you won’t like their new thing. Afraid that not liking that thing may make you not like them.

It’s an effort sometimes to remember that risks are still part of bonding, even after we’ve been together for so long. I’m always encountering new music and theater and movies, etc. that I think are interesting. It’s good to think back to those early days, and remember how amazing it felt to spill all my secrets and remember that it was sharing that made us into an us in the first place.

 

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