“The only constant in this life is change…”
This quote is a universally known fact. Yet still, it has somehow hit me full on like a freight train especially, as I navigate my changing status from bachelor to MCE/Husband to Ruth…
The reality is, as you begin to negotiate towards a shared life, you will have to bring to the top of the pile, your significant other’s priorities which undoubtedly should have an impact on your priorities – something which I’m in the process of learning.
I’d like to say that it’s been a seamless transition so far. I’d also like to say that every decision has been a decision made in Ruth’s interest. I’d also like to say that Ruth and I are symbiotic so there hasn’t been any change necessary at all (those of you who know me and Ruth are LOL’ing at this). The fact that our instincts for a party running past midnight are POLES apart is itself indicative of how differently we’re wired.
I love football, and incidentally so does Ruth (one of the many things we initially bonded over). I've played for my club for about 8 years now and for the last 3 years I have captained the team. At the end of the season in May 2017, I took the difficult decision of stepping down as skipper to focus on wedding planning and obviously the life I want to build with Ruth (N.B. No tearful, emotional press conference á la David Beckham when stepping down as England captain in 2006 – it’s not that deep).
Despite the stress of the weekly slog that comes with organising teams, logistics, tactics and player management, I very much enjoyed all of this. But, I knew that in terms of making ends meet in my schedule, I needed to afford the time and priority to the person I’m sharing a life with..
This is something that is increasingly reflected in every aspect of life - be it work, extra-curricular, friendships, you name it – I have set aside the time to create the best environment for the one thing that will define my life more so than any other thing that I invest time in.
As obvious as this all looks and sounds in theory, in practice, it has been anything but, with old habits, old priorities and old established patterns holding sway. Let’s also recognise the fact that I’m not a sucker for change! I must confess I can be quite set in my ways at times.
But, here’s a few things I’ve picked up on this short journey so far:
1. It takes courage to forsake the old for the new. The biggest issue with guys committing and changing their priorities is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). All those lads’ nights out, the parties, the ladies, the YOLO life, the fun… You’re not quite ready to give up that life for the uncertain (although exciting) life that you could potentially share with your significant other.
I’m a bit of a lad so I can identify with this. Those occasions when the dancefloor is still popping but Ruth is ready to go home…. Lol – But you see the reality is that when in the right relationship, there is nothing better than sharing a life with the person that you are supposed to be with. The potential that a lifelong union with the one possesses, is one that if you possess wholeheartedly, you will find yourself looking forward rather than looking back. Be brave, face the unknown and see where it takes you… You might actually enjoy the rollercoaster ride if you free your inhibitions…
2. Understand where you are in life. I see a lot of guys who are ready to settle down who are still disinclined to do so. Why is this? Sometimes it’s because they actually haven’t found “the one”, sometimes it’s because like above, they’re still not ready to let go of the old life.
But, a lot of the time it’s because we sometimes don’t understand where in life we are. Most guys I roll with are socially upwardly mobile, talented and destined for big things in their lines of work, spheres of influence but some are still not willing to marry that to a desire to build a home for one reason or another.
For me, I got to a stage where I realised that everything I achieve in life cannot be carried with me to the grave. I realised that the purpose of my life is bigger than just me and that I have others who I need to share and pass on the ‘essence of me’ to.
There can be no greater motivation in life than family, no greater motivation than to share our accomplishments with a significant other, than to achieve purpose with a significant other and to use all that you are to create a legacy for ourselves to impart that into the lives of successive generations, leaving a genuine imprint on the world. Call me idealistic, but to me, there isn’t really anything I can think of that beats that.
3. Don’t think you have to get there tomorrow! If I tried to make all the adjustments I needed to make in one fell swoop, I know for a fact that I would literally fail miserably in making a stable transition to married life.
The word transition is intentional here – it presupposes a gradual change in which you incrementally arrive at a position of understanding, and satisfaction with where you are. I didn’t take the decision to step down as captain overnight. And I certainly didn’t leave in one fell swoop. (I guess in this instance, the end of a season brings about a good juncture to reflect and consider). But for all situations, we have to ensure that we create space for us to ease ourselves into the new context that we are working towards.
That’s as much a mental act as it is a physical one, as habitually, we will notice that our inclinations to do things we did almost mechanically now actually factor in the thought of our plus one and how we'll need to consider her.
This will need understanding and patience from your spouse and thankfully most of the time Ruth is quite accommodating (I’m sure she will read this and cut evils at the screen lol), but it needs constant revisiting to ensure that you’re both on the same page with this process.)
I will place my musings on this topic into context: I’m talking about this transition through the lens of a guy who stands on the threshold of marriage so my advice is might seem a bit niche, but I also feel that even those who might not be in the same space as me, whether you’re single or married or even about to become a parent, this post speaks to one thing that we can all take away from this: our mind-set.
What’s the mind-set we’re carrying into phase of life we find ourselves in? Is it a mind-set of acceptance and resolution in facing that transition? Answer that question affirmatively and I think you put yourself in a better position to navigate the priorities of life whether they ostensibly serve us or not.