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January 4, 2022

I thought a New Home & a New Relationship would make me Happier—here’s what Changed my Mind.

 

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Last month, I was feeling desperate for some kind of change, so I decided to sell my property and move somewhere new.

I had this idea that it would help me make a fresh start by getting away from some painful memories that had been lingering in the house since my wife and I decided that it would be best for her and my stepson to move out.

Our decision to try “living together, apart” had generally been working well, especially due to the high amount of stress that had been created by us trying to live as a blended family. Although only seeing each other once or twice a week did make it hard for us to maintain a sense of connection or feel that we were part of each other’s lives.

As I was looking at possible new places to live, I realised that it was not that different from looking for a new partner. Some I wasn’t attracted to at all, some looked as if they just need some attention and they’d be fine, some obviously needed looking after, some were nice but weren’t available, and some were out of my league (financially). But one seemed perfect for me.

It was love at first sight and I was excited about the possibility of moving there.

But then a strange thing happened. As I was showing people around my house and describing all the great things about it and how much they would enjoy living there, I started seeing it with fresh eyes—and succeeded in selling the house back to myself! I realised how perfect it was for me, which wasn’t surprising, as I had worked on it for over a quarter century to make it that way.

I realised that my problem wasn’t with the house, it was with how I had started framing it in my mind—only seeing what was “wrong” with it. I had lost sight of all the things I loved about it and all reasons it was actually perfect for me.

At the same time, I was also having some of these same feelings about my relationship. For various reasons, I’d started to see my wife in a more critical way and was considering the idea of starting fresh with someone else. But as the real possibility of us being apart sank in, I began to remember all the things I appreciated about her, and I started to see her with newly opened eyes.

I knew I’d be crazy to give her up and highly unlikely to find anyone as well-matched to me, and I hated the thought of going through all the work we’d put into to learning about and understanding each other again with someone new, in the knowledge that at the end of it we probably wouldn’t be as well-suited to each other anyway.

So, I took down the “For Sale” sign, and I’m now back in the space of gratitude for having a house and a relationship that feels right for me. Of course, in both my relationship and in my house, there are some repairs needed, and things that could do with improving. But there is no magic solution to those issues waiting for me somewhere else. My happiness depends on my choosing to see both of them in an appreciative way, and on the effort I’m willing to put into to making them work as well as possible.

To remind me of this, at the start of each new year, I’m going to write down a list of all the things that I appreciate about my house and my partner so that I never forget them again. So that I’m never tempted by the fantasy that I could ever find a better place to live, or a better woman to share my life with, anywhere else.

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