About five years into marriage, my husband and I were driving down the street together. Our three kids in the backseat (yes, we already had three kids) (because we are crazy), I ignored the incessant crying, questions and whining to tell him the story of our friend’s recent engagement. I gave every last detail. From how her now fiancé set up the proposal to her facial expression when he asked the question.
As I finished the very long, very detailed story, I thought my heart might burst with joy.
“You know, I probably only listen to about 25 percent of what you say,” replied my now dead-to-me husband.
“You what?” I asked. Or yelled. I can’t really be sure.
He went on to tell me that he is a typical man. That pesky Y chromosome makes it impossible for him to listen to every word I say because I give too many details. And he doesn’t do details. Blah, blah, blah…
I probably should have been more upset. However, I thought: “You know what? This is why I love my friends. They listen intently to every last word I say.”
I adore my husband. He makes me laugh. He’s fun. He is the best. But he is not my everything.
It would be unfair to ask any one person to be your everything. As much as we are told that a spouse completes us, the truth is no person can complete you. A spouse can complement you and enrich you. But a spouse cannot make you whole.
Becoming a whole person is a different story for a different day. But realizing your spouse cannot be your everything is a lesson well learned.
Much like the stock market, there is tremendous value in diversifying your relationships.
My husband will never listen to a story that is 26 minutes long. My BFF will hang on to every detail, offering important feedback and opinions. Because that is what best friends do. And what many husbands never will.
Not to undervalue my husband, he knows me in a way that no friend ever will. He supports my late-night emotional spiraling when the world feels very dark and hard. Then he makes breakfast as usual in the morning, having given me the grace to properly emote then wake up to a fresh start. No questions asked. No judgements passed.
Relationships are the cornerstone of life. They’re the very best part of life and, sometimes, the very hardest part. One of the greatest gifts we can give to our spouses and children and friends is to have reasonable expectations of who they can be to us. And who they never will.
When a woman says, “My husband is my everything,” I know that ultimately translates to unrealistic expectations that will more often than not go unmet. While it’s a sweet sentiment, I’ve found that a marriage is healthiest when your spouse is not your everything.
This is definitely your most important relationship. And should be treated as such, yet it cannot be all you have. Invest in friendships that make you both better people. I don’t know what that is for you, but for me, it’s talkative friends who try to solve the world’s problems over a sushi dinner. With as many words as possible.