Thursday, 16 June 2011
I recently wrote about performing something called the Heist - a kidnapping of sorts - on an unsuspecting SO as a way of spicing things up. Because the successful Heist centers so much on anticipation, it runs the very dangerous risk of yielding disappointment and disillusionment when things don't go the way you planned.
I know this because I began planning a Heist weeks ago - I was going to kidnap John and whisk him away to North Carolina this week. I talked to natives, made all the arrangements, estimated costs, made sure he was free, everything. But when the moment came to inform him of the plan, the night before we were about to leave, things began to fall apart.
As it turned out, although I had spent hours daydreaming and planning, there were things I hadn't considered. One thing I had failed to take into account was that John needs to feel that he is in control. So my unveiling strategy (surprise!) did not have the positive effect I'd anticipated. He wanted to know where exactly we were going, and I didn't want to tell him, even after I had told him which state and for how long. Because we are both so stubborn, it devolved into an argument, which meant that my high spirit was deflated even before he told me that the van was in horrible shape to have to drive for 10 hours straight, twice in one week.
Eventually I yielded to his practical concerns, but my spirit ached. I had been so excited to give this to him, this gift of adventure for just us two with all the loose ends tied up - and I had failed. The next day, I couldn't help myself - I brooded. I couldn't help but feel a little betrayed - I thought we shared an adventuresome spirit, and his negative reaction suggested that I had been wrong. Then John said, "we're all packed, right?" "Yes," I said gloomily, thinking of the new bathing suits and camp chairs I'd purchased for the both of us. "Then let's go," he said. "I'll fix it. We can't go to North Carolina, but that doesn't mean we can't go away - right?"
My first instinct was to persist in my gloom. I didn't want to let go of my disappointment. But we loaded up the van and got onto the Long Island Expressway, and as we passed the exit for Utopia Parkway I thought: "It's time to make a decision. Are you going to make him feel bad because your plan didn't work out, or are you going to let this be whatever it is?"
So I decided then that this week would be something else. And we spent the next few days touring the best that Long Island has to offer in a sort of town-and-country hybrid trip. Nights were spent camping in the woods where he grew up, on a deserted beach that had to be abandoned at 4 in the morning because the tide threatened to trap us there indefinitely, and in the middle of a three-thousand-acre nature preserve. During the days we drove around to different beaches, lamenting the vulnerability of a van with no windows and the perpetual lack of parking. We rode bikes and ordered crab cakes and filled the cooler with beer. Overall, it was nothing like what I'd had in my mind for the preceding weeks. But it was lovely in itself, precisely because I decided to surrender my expectations and just let it be.
At the end of the day, control and surrender are issues that plague every life, and every relationship. Which one we choose to prioritize can have a huge impact on our experience. I could have stayed mad at John for refusing to surrender, or I could take my own medicine and surrender myself. Pride is a difficult pill to swallow, but sometimes that's the only remedy for enjoying your time together.
What do you think about control and surrender in a relationship? Have you been able to let go of something you felt was important? Conversely, have you ever found yourself clinging to something, an idea or ideal, that ended up backfiring?