The scariest part about getting married is the prospect of sharing.
Because that’s what happens when couples change their pronouns. They share. Their whole lives, in fact.
Everything from information to experiences to sorrows to joys to finances to the plate of brussell sprouts. And it’s hard. Sharing is counterintuitive to the very way our species is wired.
Csikszentmihalyi’s brilliant book about the evolving self explained it best:
Humans are bundles of energy programmed to pursue selfish ends. Ninety percent of our genetic material overlaps with the chimpanzees, so it’s a wonder how some of us have ever built cathedrals, or computers, or spaceships. That there are even a few individuals who try to help others should come as a marvelous surprise.
And so, when the time comes to couple up, each individual quickly realizes that they have dense, calcified layers of selfishness to dissolve. And that takes time. Sometime years.
My layers are still a mile deep. Because I’m still locked into many of my old ways of being selfish. Splitting that plate of brussell spouts still feels like torture to me.
But the lesson learned every time we do it is, there’s a profound sense of belonging that comes from creating a shared experience with another.
Our happiness widens. Or trust deepens. Our joy reciprocates. And our meaning multiplies. Whatever conquering of selfish habits it may necessitate, it’s worth it.
There’s an adorable old joke about this very issue:
An elderly couple walks into a fast food restaurant. They order one hamburger, one order of fries and one drink. The old man unwraps the plain hamburger and carefully cuts it in half.
He places one half in front of his wife. He then carefully counts out the fries, dividing them into two piles and neatly placing one pile in front of his wife. He takes a sip of the drink and his wife takes a sip and then sets the cup down between them.
As he begins to eat his few bites of hamburger, the people around them keep looking over and whispering, that poor old couple, all they can afford is one meal for the two of them. As the old man begins to eat his fries a young man comes to the table. He politely offers to buy another meal for the old couple.
The old man replies that they’re just fine, they’re just used to sharing everything. The surrounding people noticed the little old lady hadn’t eaten a bite. She sits there watching her husband eat and occasionally taking turns sipping the drink. Again the young man comes over and begs them to let him buy another meal for them.
This time the old woman says, no, thank you, we are used to sharing everything. As the old man finishes and was wipes his face neatly with the napkin, the young man again comes over to the little old lady who had yet to eat a single bite of food and asks, may I ask what you are waiting for?
And the old woman answers, the teeth!
That’s what love begs of us. To share agency and go into something having no idea what the finished product will look like.
It’s scary and vulnerable, trusting that the pie is big enough for both of us. But then again, once upon a time, the human race shared everything.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What if you built a relationship that didn’t work when you didn’t share?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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