You are not a rehabilitation center for badly raised men.

You’ve heard the saying that women aren’t rehabilitation centers for badly raised men. I get it. Some women are in situations where they “mother” their significant others or are waiting for them to grow up or change. They feel as if they are still having to raise their partner like they would a child. I have a few things to say in response to this idea taking shape.

First and maybe foremost, I think part of being in a committed relationship is helping and sometimes pushing your partner to grow. Personally, I think significant others are meant to comfort us, to help us grow, and to relentlessly support us. That happens in a lot of ways. My husband and I met when I was 18. I can tell you now that there are a lot of things that he helped me learn that he could say he felt like I should have already known. He was more independent than I was and more used to taking care of himself than I was. He wasn’t clingy or needy like I was. The reasons why don’t matter, but I depended on him a lot in those early years. Then, once I had grown some and matured, the roles changed.

My husband went through an emotional rollercoaster when we were 21. He was learning hard lessons and becoming a man. That process can be ugly, bitter, and hard. He leaned on me in those times. I didn’t feel like I was raising him. I felt like I was supporting him and helping him to grow. He expressed his emotions and we talked for countless hours over this time period. We talked and talked and talked until it made him feel better. Until he realized that everything he was going through was just part of him becoming an adult and the leader of our family. It was a grueling process led by God and it was also beautiful to witness. I watched this boy that I fell in love with when we were just teenagers become this man with dreams of babies and building a home with me. I fell in love in a whole new way. There’s nothing in this world that could mean as much to me as having even a small part in helping my husband become the man he is today. He is so good and giving and selfless. He centers his life around God and does what’s best for our family. He constantly works to better himself and to force himself to face his own shortcomings. This was a process I needed to witness because in this process, our love grew so much deeper than what we had as teenagers.

I say all of this to say that no, you have no obligation to mother your significant other or to raise them or to rehabilitate them. You always have the right to leave a relationship if you’re not feeling it. What I am saying is that as humans, sometimes we need help growing. Sometimes, the process of helping someone grow will spark growth within yourself. Sometimes, God has a more important plan and is using you to help that person become who they need to be for that plan.

My last point in this is just that if you’re with someone and you’ve been trying to push them to change, you need to accept that people don’t change until they’re ready. You can’t force change, and if they aren’t the person you need them to be, that’s okay too. When and if you choose to marry someone, you need to be ready to accept that this may be as good as this person gets. You can’t go into hoping that they’ll become someone different. They may, and then you get to learn to love the new versions of yourselves and each other. But going into marriage, you need to see the clear picture of who they are and accept it. I have a lot of friends who have a lot of anger or resentment because their spouse didn’t magically become a different person after marriage. It doesn’t work like that. Marriage is not magic or magical. It’s beautiful, gritty, and challenging just like life is. There will be so many highs and so many lows, but the person beside you in those moments has to be someone who has accepted you for who you are. If they are to accept you, you need to accept them all the same.

So ladies, you aren’t a rehab facility, but you may be just what your partner needs. You have no obligation, but if we can come to common grounds and understand that we maybe aren’t our best yet but we want to get there, isn’t that what we should do in our relationships and friendships? What is the point if not love, acceptance, and growth?

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