Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
Coldplay – Fix you
I’m moving house. Again. This is going to be my 16th move in the 36 years of my life so far. It will not be my last move. I used to be excited about moving. I loved the thought that I could pack up my life in a few boxes and just take the whole lot with me and start somewhere all over again. Moving to me was about new beginnings, about clearing stuff out and having a fresh start. About control, probably.
But since I’ve married and have a child and another one on the way, moving becomes increasingly difficult. Also, the moves seem to come too quickly after another to enjoy. Or to need a new, fresh start. I’ve just started thank you very much, leave me be. Yet there are, again, good reasons to move and so we will.
Finding a new house is remarkably like finding a new partner in some ways.
You have a good look around, you date a few, and then you find one that isn’t necessarily bigger or better or more good looking, but that just stands out to you. You find one that suits you. That fits with what you think you need (and can afford, or maybe that’s just houses). It’s about a the fresh start someone promises.
But there’s no way to be sure that life is like you hope it will be with that person, or that house. The only thing you can do is make an educated guess and enter into this new life.
When you buy a house, you explicitly state you accept it ‘as is’. In the current state. With all it’s flaws and mishaps. And it’s not until after you’ve fully accepted it as is that you can start to change it. Same with dating. You cannot fix the person you date, you shouldn’t want to.
The worst marriages are those that started with one person thinking they would fix the other person. Sure, people can change trough marriage. They will, especially in a good marriage, change for the better. They will develop themselves, be challenged in their character issues and face dysfunctional thought patterns. But not before they are fully accepted as they are. Thinking you can change your partner without accepting them in their current state is a mistake.
Now this is probably where the analogy ends. You usually fix a house up right after you’ve bought it, unlike the whole changing through relationships thing. We’ve started painting our new house from almost the minute we walked in and we can’t wait to pull out all the smelly, ugly green carpets as soon as we have the paintwork done. And in fixing it, we start to love it, whereas the ‘fixing’ of each other only happens after loving each other, and not before.
Although... when you think of it, if someone changes something in their behaviour, because you’ve asked them to, you will feel more loved and you will be easier able to love the other person. Because you feel connected. It’s a precious process, change. Vulnerable too. Houses don’t tend to have opinions about it, people sure do. And rightly so. People have to want to change in order to do change.
I was watching a hoarders-show last night. Sometimes I love to watch a good clean happen for other people, in order to feel less guilty about my own clutter probably. But the intriguing thing about those shows is often how resistant the hoarders are to getting rid of their old junk and allowing another person to change the way they live. No matter how much they hate their mess, they are also attached to it. And isn’t that often much the same for most of us? No matter how much we know the way we go about things might not be the best way, we are also attached to it. Because it is our way. And we need to be acknowledged in that before we are willing to really consider changing it.
All that to say I’m moving houses again, and I want to fully embrace it. The new house, the new move, the new phase in life it will bring. And i’m not there yet. I need some more time. Sometimes in dating the same thing happened to me. I was dating this good, nice guy, with whom I could have safely married. But I wasn’t there yet. Not embracing the possibilities yet because I wasn’t willing to accept the limitations yet. His limitations. How he wasn’t prince Charming. How he wasn’t perfect, or as perfect as I’d hoped he would be. It was me getting in my way, my hopes, my expectations, my Hollywood dreams.
And only when I started embracing reality, and the guy my now husband is, I could face the change of being together, with him, choosing, and moving on.
Aukelien Van Abbema is a singles and couples counsellor, public speaker, and successful author, including the title Dare to Date.
Helping people with Christian dating, relationships, singleness in church, dating in church, loneliness, connectedness, christian connection, healthy relationships.