My mother always told me…”Marry a man who loves you more than you love him”, which sounded like the most selfish and ridiculous advice I’d ever heard. Why would I ever want to be with someone who loved me more, wouldnt I want our love to be equal? For many years, she spoke this same advice, over and over again…
I have always been the one in the relationship who made the time to hang out, who always made the plans work, who gave more, who…loved more. In essence I always put the other person first. It seemed natural, I knew no other way, I always considered that simply being laid back or flexible in my personality, considerate of what would be convenient for someone else above myself, it was never a big deal to me.
Later in life, I realized most women I knew were the same way, simply put…flexible in their relationships. More often than not, making choices with their partner in mind first, and be satisfied with whatever remained. So, as I reflected on this, in a moment of my own relationship frustration, I wondered why is that? Why were all the women I knew making sacrifices more frequently in their love lives than their counterparts? Was it a woman thing? Was it learned somehow? The bigger question to how was why?
Is it simply the nature of a woman to give of herself first and foremost and live on the remainder. Is the nature of a woman that of a caregiver first? As the glue that hold the family together, children together, relationships together…the mother of the earth and all in it? Is that true wholly in our relationships as well, is it in our nature to take care of our partners before we take care of ourselves?
For most of my life, that advice my mother gave went unheeded (like many of my mother’s good advice), until I met my husband…and her blurry advice came clearly into focus!
My nature was simple, I would take care of those I loved first and make whatever was leftover work for me. It was quite surprising and a bit overwhelming, when I met someone who did the same. Simply put, we were both putting the others’ needs / wishes / conveniences…first before ourselves. That was a very different kind of love for me…a wonderfully refreshing, comforting, spoilling kind of love. A kind of love, that I finally felt what my mother meant. There was truly no other way to describe it…he did indeed love me more, it was very obvious to me what she meant. When a man loves a woman more than she loves him, they are actually on equal footing…their love is balanced.
In order for us to love eachother equally, in the same way that a woman loves a man, the man must love her more than he loves himself…put her first before himself. What comes so natural to a woman to love others first and foremost, is not natural for men…at all. They are conditioned very early on, to be strong, get ahead, take care of yourself. For many women, their instructions were clear as well, take care of your Dad, take care of your younger siblings, take care, take care, take care of those around you.
Is it something something simply in our nature or nuture for us to love those around us first, and love ourselves with whats left?