Loneliness is hard. When we are married, loneliness can sometimes be even harder. One of the most isolating events in a relationship can be a celebration.
You win! Again.
Success is something everyone wants. But what happens when Mate is the only on succeeding? Do you patiently and dutifully lead the cheer from the sideline? Or do you give perfunctory congratulations and inwardly sulk?
Pompons at the Ready
You have seen the couples with the powerhouse spouse. The fair-haired one who has the Midas touch. No matter the situation, this person wins, comes out smelling like a rose, is always the victor. What about Mate?
Mate is the ultimate cheerleader. Mate tells everyone, joyfully, of the success and lauds Winner’s merits…at least in public. In the quiet times before bed, Mate may not be feeling all that perky. How much energy does it require to jump and cheer, every single time there is a victory of any sort?
- Sports victory
- Project completion
How much more energy does it take when Mate has none of these to celebrate? Celebrating someone else can be very lonely. Are you this Mate?
Another Acceptance Speech
Are you the Mate who is always in the spotlight? The fruits of your labor are put on display quarterly (or sooner) because you strive for excellence in everything you touch.
You sell more, create more, repair more than anyone else. You are the guest of honor at all of the awards ceremonies and every social function.
It is lonely at the top. Being #1 is a solitary spot. Looking down at everyone from the pedestal is the most dizzying loneliness.
Look at why the spots are so lonely. In both cases Mate is doing something alone. The Winner is basking in the limelight which Winner created alone. The Cheerleader is supporting the Winner without having a hand in the win.
Think about the last time you scratched off a lotto ticket and won back the price of the ticket. It felt good not to have thrown the money away. Did you run home and tell Mate? No, because really all you had done was broken even. But what about that ticket where you won $250? You could not get your cell phone out of your pocket fast enough.
Mate gets the telephone call and thinks one of the following:
- Where did Winner get the money for another lotto ticket?
- Why do I never get a winning ticket?
- We really could use the money to (responsibly) pay for __________.
- Winner already has decided how to spend the money.
- What would I do with an extra $250?
So, Winner, what did you say in the call to Mate? How much consultation was there? Is the $250 yours to spend because you bought the ticket? Hmm. Really?
Now what do we do?
The easy solution is ask Mate how they are feeling, but that is treating the symptom and not the cause. The loneliness can be temporarily suppressed by intimately sharing the success, but it will still remain after the celebration.
Actively seek out successful activities you can share. Even those whose successes are microbial…like the scratch off ticket. This may not be as easy an assignment as it appears at first blush. It means including Mate in things which do not require assistance.
Every choice we make in a relationship is a chance to get Mate’s assistance, thus sharing the success. That sharing is the only way to banish the loneliness of being both the Winner and the Cheerleader. Rarely, in relationships is the solution the same for both parties, however, in this instance the medicine is precisely the same.
Consider some of the things you do every single (day, week, month) about which you do not consult Mate.
- Routine business decisions
- Eating for the first time at a new restaurant
- A new haircut
- A new book
- Choosing a new doctor
- Change in diet
- A new exercise routine
- New paint color for the guest bathroom
How difficult would it have been to simply ask Mate? Even in the things you would not expect to ask anyone’s opinion, take the time to ask Mate. But do not stop there. Include, involve and engage Mate in the activity or choice.
Practice makes perfect, so if your first attempt is not as successful as you might desire, talk to Mate and try something new…or the same thing from a different perspective.
Have you ever asked Mate for help or opinion about something which was unexpected? Would you consider sharing the mundane to strengthen a relationship? When did you experience the loneliness of success? How did you handle it?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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