Recently I have been thinking a great deal about how much I monumentally suck at being a reliable working partner. Don’t worry, I have gotten better than Hawk here. (As in, I do the dishes. Sometimes.)
Specifically I have been thinking a lot about the role of dependency in relationships and the shift a person has to make from being independent to interdependent.
We start our lives dependent on others for survival. This makes sense. We are essentially crying, pooping, lumps of flesh upon arrival to the earthly plane, it isn’t our fault we need others to survive. Carefully, over the course of two decades (sometimes sooner/sometimes never), we are nurtured to become more and more independent. With independence we learn the skills needed to rely on ourselves as autonomous actors. We become ronins, lone wolves.
Bad habits from our lives as independent actors, such as not doing the dishes when they need to be done, are carryovers from really bad habits of survival I learned along the path towards independence. (Or is that just me?) See, as an independent actor in my own life I didn’t need to think about how my actions affected others around me. I was a lone wolf. The world revolved around me.
These independent habits have not translated so well into married life. Interestingly, as I have recently been learning, independence is not the goal. It is the bridge to our third stage of existence: interdependence.
Interdependence is this curious, fluctuating, state that exists between independence and dependence with a curious third ingredient of listening/caring about the other in your life. Being in a relationship between two equal people means that yes, at times, you will be dependent on the other person for survival. But, even in your dependence to the other person, you need to be able to support them being dependent on you. Interdependence is thus this dance where you and the equal partner fluidly change from the lead to the supporting and back again. When done right it is truly amazing.
Early childhood dependence. Young adulthood independence. Neither of these really, in and of themselves, give the exact training for interdependence. You learn interdependence through experience with other equals. Peers. Relationships. The biggest way, I have found, that interdependence is learned is when you learn to give up your own self-centered independent mindset to realize that someone else is more important that you. This is a leap of faith, and it is scary, but it also means you get to stay married.
As I stated above, I kind of suck at being a reliable working partner to my friends, collaborators, and my wife. The good news is that I didn’t really understand that until very recently, and now because I do know it I am getting better at sucking less.
I have also learned that interdependence doesn’t mean I have to do the dishes all the time. What it does mean is that I need to do them when asked, and equally I can expect the same in return.
Song Of The Day:
“Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” by Cake*
*Cover of “Quizás” Osvaldo Farrés