KEEPING YOUR BEAT

Being close with someone who plays to their own beat may sometimes be challenging, but it’s an opportunity to create melodious harmony, too. Austin-based musician Amy Edwards shares how playing in a rock band helped her understand successful relationships

Everything in life has with its own rhythm. When you’re working, playing, and living life according to you – whether you’re single or attached – you develop your own style and your own beat, so to speak, for cadence and crescendos.

Some of us, for better or worse, rarely, if ever, change. We’ve all heard that someone “marches to their own beat” and we’ve heard that used as a compliment and in a well-bless-their-heart kind of way. What about the opposite, though? We’ve all known that person… the one who adopts everything their significant other likes or doesn’t like. The one whose whole identity becomes the relationship they are in, or maybe even subsumes the identity of their kids; the one who seemingly has no opinions of their own anymore. It comes in degrees, and as a relationship or marriage develops and blossoms, of course you’re going to share more and more interests, but sometimes it goes too far. You know that person. Maybe that person is you.

A large part of an initial attraction is differences in personality. Yet without our sense of self, our own persona can slip away, without us even realizing it. Over time, perhaps, we fall into what’s easy, like slipping on an old, favorite strappy heel, and we can forget to challenge ourselves and maintain our own beat, because the beat you’re playing to is familiar and your “ear” has grown accustomed to it.

It’s easy to think, “I’d never let that happen to me.” But I know of this firsthand. I know because I lost my beat once. Not so many years ago, I gave in, over time, to a lot of things that weren’t me. One day, I suddenly looked up to see that my life was not mine anymore. I didn’t know whose it was. I didn’t dislike the life I was leading, necessarily. By many standards, it was fantastic, and what many people probably dream of: a beautiful house in suburbia; a child and room for more; a husband who loved me; thoughts of a minivan. But I knew, deep down, that this life wasn’t mine. I was playing to a beat that made me feel complacent. I wasn’t living a life that made me move or that made my soul dance, corny as that sounds, but it’s true.

That marriage ended in divorce. There’s more to that story – yet, I learned how a partner can feel unfulfilled when there’s too much symmetry in the relationship. Relationships can be revitalized, but we have to shake up that beat. When was the last time that you found something a new passion, simply for no other reason than it interests you? Has it been a while? Now’s the time to refresh yourself.

Think for a moment to what it means to be in a band. When you’re in a band, yes, you have to go with the drum beat, or it’s chaos. You all have to fall into your roles and stay together, in time, to have a unified sound. But the sound of rock ’n roll doesn’t necessarily stay right with the drum beat. It varies, and the guitar often plays a little off the beat, pushing or pulling, in order to get the intended vibe.

In music, and in life, it’s key to have you own part, literally, as well as your own cadence, and your own “beat.” Yes, you want to stay “in time” together, but finding your own way, your own sound, and your own original part to play is crucial to staying engaged in all life has to offer.

Your own relationship is just like a band. Mutual independence while co-existing closely is a trick that takes time and practice to master. It’s beyond sanguine to say you’re “making music together,” but it’s the truth. This is your band, the interdependent partnership that lets both parties flourish. You may come into the whole thing with clashing rhythms, but the sounds meld together and you find a common tune, one that suits each of you and provides you the freedom to move within it — one you can come back to if you lose your way, but one you won’t lose yourself in. You each shine and play your part and get heard… together. Hang onto yourself and trust yourself, because you’ve got your beat— and the unique “sound” that makes you, you. Go ahead, be your own rock star.