The Big Leap: Transitioning Outta Single Life, Part 2
Did you see the first half of the conversation with my good friend Vanesha? She offered so much insight on transitioning into a relationship, co-habitation, marriage and step parenthood.
Read about her family's thoughts on her decision to live with her boyfriend, and how she evolved.
If you're all caught up, enjoy the conclusion of our talk, which includes Vanesha's advice to the reader who piqued my curiosity on the topic of transitioning.
Starr (S): Was your transition a tough one? If yes, how so?
Vanesha (V): Yes and no. Compromise was tough. It was weird having to consult with someone about everything. It was a struggle and it still is. I have to be honest.
Spending time together, that wasn’t tough.
Giving someone their time, that was tough because I like to deal with conflict right away, but if he said, “Not right now” I’d push the issue. That makes him feel attacked when I do that. In the beginning, it was a struggle. It’s gotten better.
S: You adjusted to him. Has he adjusted to you?
V: He needs less time now, but he still needs time. What I figured out in marriage counseling is that certain things are just the way they are. What I could do [when conflict arises] is write out my feelings. That way, I can immediately vent on paper, but he has time to get what he needs to say out.
S: What was the most unexpected adjustment you had to make? Something you didn’t see this coming that came out of left field?
V: I don’t know why this would be unexpected, but I had to adjust as a stepparent. Sometimes I need to sit back and be a meek wife instead of saying, “I’m your wife! We need to do this and that!”
I thought he would just see things as I saw them and I thought that my idea was the best idea. <<She laughs.>>
S: What helped you adjust, especially in the beginning?
V: Talking to other married people who are in healthy relationships. My mom and my sister give me good insight. And reading about it in articles or on blogs.
Also, friends that are married make you feel better. When you’re in the thick of it, you don’t see other people going through the same things, so you feel like a failure sometimes. Then you talk to someone and they admit that you aren’t alone and sometimes they feel the same way, too.
S: That’s interesting—the support you have as a married person. The single experience is different because it’s not a supportive environment. If you’re looking for answers about your singleness you find articles telling you that you’re single because you’re flawed. And yes, you are flawed but being flawed [or human] has never stopped anyone from getting married and it won’t stop anyone from loving you.
V: Amen! Do you get support from other single people?
S: Sometimes, but some people try to play the role of single expert, but every single experience is different. That’s why I liked talking to you when you were single, and still do, because you know what it’s like. You remember.
V: I was single in my thirties, that’s why.
One of the things that surprised me about marriage is how supportive everyone is. It feels good to hear people talk about their experiences to affirm that I’m not doing it wrong.
S: How do you compromise on huge issues where you’re opposed?
V: Sometimes it doesn’t get resolved immediately. It could take months and months and months of praying, talking about it, and dealing with it. And in the end, I may go with his decision so we don’t fight or break apart. Sometimes he does the same for me.
S: What do you love about sharing your life with a significant other?
V: That one makes me misty.
I love how I’ve changed. I’m a different person now. During that six months I told you about, I so related to this song, “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Bublé. That’s how I thought it’d be. And that’s how it happened. He has truly changed me. My life is totally different than when I was single.
I didn’t realize how much I was going to have to work to stay married. He makes me happy more so than not. You’re dealing with someone who is totally different than you, from a different background, but our differences make us good for each other.
I love the joy of loving a step child. If I’d been rigid about dating someone with children, I would’ve missed out on it if I hadn’t opened my heart up to him...I’m so sorry. <<Getting teary-eyed.>>
The positives outweigh the negatives. I feel like now I need him. If I didn’t have him, I’d be so upset. I need him to make everything in my life work. I didn’t feel like that when I was single. I never thought that I would need. I used to think that would make me sound weak. I always felt like, “Yeah, I can have a man…that’s wonderful, but I don’t need to have a man. I can take care of everything myself.” And at that time I could, but I’ve come to this spot now where I do need him in my life. And my husband tells me that he needs me. So we need each other to keep going.
Say you want him. Say you need him. He needs to feel needed.
S: If you could talk to my reader directly [the one who posed the question] about what it’s like to transition successfully from single life to a relationship, what advice or perspective would you offer him or her?
1. Always be open for compromise.
It’s not always going to be your way like it was when you were single. You have two whole people (not two halves) coming together who have their own ways of doing and saying things and their own ideas.
2. Be open/flexible.
Don’t be afraid to change your mind about certain things. There may have been things I was really rigid about before that I’ve changed my mind about.
3. Don’t be concerned about having the last word.
It’s a tough one that I’m still working on—not getting into:
“Bye to you!”
“Bye to YOU!!”
“BYE TO YOU!!!”
<<We’re both laughing hysterically.>>
Sometimes you don’t have to have the last word. You can say it to your homegirl, “Girl, do you know what this such-and-such said to me?!”
<<We're still laughing. Conversation ends.>>
To the reader who submitted the response to the quick 3-question survey that inspired this whole conversation, thank you.
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