“A La Baggage”
Last spring, my husband and I planned a trip to visit his family in North Carolina. Wanting to enjoy the sunny, warm weather, we decided to take my convertible Mazda Miata, which had just enough room to cram the two of us and minimal luggage. Eager to get on the road, my husband tossed his small duffel bag in the trunk and looked over to see me teetering down the sidewalk with a suitcase the size of Texas. “Do you really need all of that?” he asked, clearly amused. “Of course!” I insisted as I lugged the suitcase to the tiny car. Then we both examined the suitcase and the trunk and came to the same conclusion: the suitcase was larger than the trunk! “I guess we’re going to have to take a different car,” I said dejectedly. My husband shook his head.
“Let’s see what we can do,” he replied, and we went back into the house. After a few minutes of finagling and some reluctant downsizing, we managed to repack my suitcase in a much smaller bag. Although I was worried I would need the things we removed from my suitcase (who doesn’t need six pairs of flip flops for a three-day trip?), my husband convinced me I would survive. And as we zoomed down the highway with the wind sweeping through my hair, I knew he was right.
Friends, we all bring baggage into our relationships. I am going to define baggage as any past experiences that may have negative ramifications on current or future relationships. This may include unhealthy dating relationships, unsavory family incidents, or poor life decisions. Your baggage may be small or large like mine in the story. Regardless of the intensity and extent of your baggage, this is something that every couple needs to address in order to establish a healthy, honest relationship.
First, be open with your loved one about your past experiences. This does NOT mean you should ramble about your ex-boyfriends. It does mean, however, that you should be open if you have difficulty trusting men because your boyfriend was unfaithful or you lacked a father figure growing up. Refrain from using this baggage as an excuse for unhealthy behavior and instead ask your loved one for support and patience while you overcome this obstacle.
Second, show your man that you are trustworthy and desire the same openness from him. When he decides to confide in you, listen with an open mind and use what he tells you to aid in your understanding of who he is. Most importantly, show him that you are forgiving and nonjudgmental.
Just as my husband and I worked together to conquer my physical baggage, you and your loved one can overcome emotional baggage through teamwork, patience, and unconditional love. The process may be painful, but in the end you will create a new level of trust in your friendship. And like my husband, your man may be able to show you that some things are simply not worth holding on to.
Special thanks to the following for photo credit from Flickr (from top to bottom): kylenolan, Phil_Bird, and self spirit soul.