It is no secret that I don’t like my ex-husband. It’s not uncommon to not like your ex-spouse, but “Jake” has managed to push my buttons over every conceivable method of modern communication since our separation 8 years ago. I complain about him to family, friends, here and on other channels of social media, but no matter how much he drives me crazy or angers me, I never speak ill of him in front of Em. I want her to have the best relationship possible with her father and I want it to be her decision to continue that relationship.
But as much as I don’t like my ex-husband, I have to give him some credit for helping to make me who I am today. The people I invite and keep close in my life must meet certain standards I have set. That might sound pretentious, but it works for me. Rather than become upset when someone close to me does something I cannot stand, I only remain close to people who fit these standards. Not to say I don’t have anyone in my life that doesn’t fit my “perfect model,” but I don’t invest my emotions in people that constantly disappoint or don’t grow as a person.
My list of standards/qualities I look for in any person I wish to be close to:
- Loyalty – Do not question my motives behind my back to others I’m close to. If you think I’m going to do something stupid, talk to me about it. Stay true to me by helping me stay true to me. True friends are not afraid to say the truth when they see someone they love making bonehead decisions.
- Educated – You don’t have to have an 8-year degree, but you need to be willing to learn about your world. Make educated decisions when it comes to major life milestones. Think for yourself. Listen to and accept others’ thoughts and opinions – it’s not impossible to agree to disagree.
- Vision – Realize that your decisions today affect your life in the future. Unless you’re still a minor living as someone else’s dependent, only you are responsible for you. Be able to answer the questions “Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?” Have some sort of plan for yourself in mind, even if it’s just a rough draft. Figure out what you want, what is important to you, and then figure out how you’re going to obtain it. Know how to prioritize and know if/when you will waver from those priorities. Learn how to say “No” when you have to.
- Thrift – Budget your assets. Save for the future. Spend your money on things that will give you more than instant gratification. Give to causes that are important to your beliefs. Spend your time wisely. Learn to recognize when it’s appropriate to work or to play.
- Awareness – We are not alone in this world. Someone out there needs you. Be there for them when they ask for your assistance. Know on whom you can depend for help when you need it. Recognize the sacrifices others make on your behalf and verbally acknowledge them. If you say you’re going to do something – do it. Accept gifts with grace and use them wisely.
- Communicate – Do not be afraid to speak up for yourself or for others. Speak the truth with kindness. Most people cannot read your mind or guess your thoughts – if something or someone bothers you, say something. If you want or need something, say something. If you make a mistake, own it and ask for forgiveness. If someone has wronged you and you forgive them, tell them. Silence is not always golden. If someone asks for you to listen to their problems, listen and then ask if they would like your feedback.
I am not perfect – I’m still working on many of these qualities myself. How can I expect people in my life to have these qualities if I don’t have them? But these are things I need in my life, things I need from my loved ones.
And I’m finally learning to recognize that.