Romance


Top Love Stories No 3

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Conversations with this and that family member over the last few days has prompted me to once again expound on relationships of the intimate variety. If I was only allowed to give one bit of advice on the subject, it would be this:

If you cannot love someone for who he/she is right now, the odds of his/her ever being anything other than a constant source of vexation and disappointment is close to nil.

Yep, the odds are that bad.

Here’s the reality. When we meet and feel attracted there is little by way of actual fact on which to base our warming feelings for this new person. We assess our attraction, add this to what little we glean through the rather stilted courting phase and then we make up the rest to suit our own needs. In short, we invent them.

For a while, our projection of who we think our new love is works fairly well for us. They accommodate by donning their best faces and putting on their formal dinner party manners and all is truly well. But the inevitable day will arrive when something goes wrong. In these less than perfect instances our mortal, non-super hero/model personae are exposed, and depending on the magnitude of the shock to our new relationship, we’re toast. Or we live to impress another day, and another day after that until we find ourselves living with, married to and possibly breeding with someone who isn’t at all what we’d hoped they were and who stubbornly resists all our attempts to cajole/shame/nag them into being the person we wanted them to be.

Disillusionment. Betrayal. Woe.

Well, this sucks, you think. How dare this person I love not be exactly who I thought he/she could be. And they had such potential too.

And here lies the problem. You never really loved the real person at all.  As Yoda might have said, “Never your mind on where you were. What you were doing.”

It’s not your fault. We are taught to believe that even the most unsuitable for us partners have “potential”. That guy who drinks too much? He’s just young. Give him a few years, a mortgage and a kid and he’ll settle down. Little Miss Negativity? She just needs positive affirmation. Mr. Proud to have Never Read a book in his life? Exposure to the classics is the answer. And on and on the excuses roll in and pile up like Tribbles until they spill out of the closets and we are wading through them.

Some people do indeed grow into their potential, but it’s usually not a future that someone else dreamed for them. These are folks who have goals and hopes of their own, and who don’t believe that tiny fairies  and luck are responsible for dreams coming true.

It’s a disservice to the person you love to not love them for who they are right now. Certainly, encourage him/her to grow and achieve – that’s part of what couples do for each other – but don’t fault him/her in the future if he/she hasn’t fulfilled the ambitious template you created out of thin air, your childish fantasies and some Disney princess movie you saw once upon a time ago.

And never forget that not living up to one’s potential is a two-way street.

*In case you missed my BlogHer post today. Here it is.


"MARRIAGE AND PISTOL LICENSE" office...

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New, and yet not particularly new at all, research on sex and its many tentacles wrapped around America is snaking through the Internet in various forms. One section of the report in particular garners a predictable amount of attention in our “endangered” man era, and that is the “revelation” that young men aren’t faring well academically or career-wise when compared to young women.

That the sky is falling on masculinity is not new. As early as a decade ago, the plight of boys struggling to cope with a female dominated and driven public education system was already causing much wringing of hands and dire predictions for the future. But what is causing angst now is that despite being poor catches overall, young men still set the romantic and sexual agenda and women play ball or buy a vibrator.

And I am left wondering, how this is different from when I was a twenty-something? Men were not “endangered” and yet still got to make the rules where dating and relationships were concerned. Men decide “where, when, and what type of commitment” now and always from my perspective. So nothing new to see here, people, move along.

That the problem is men has never been a real issue. This male “crisis” is just another distraction from the real problem, which is that women – to a large degree – take a long time getting over the idea that they have to bend over to have a relationship at all. We are schooled in tactical compromise from birth and foolishly never really learn to set our boundaries and walk away when they are violated.

Our training begins with each other. It’s in the feral packs that make up the mined land of girlish friendship where indoctrination begins. We can’t blame men for this. We are vicious and conniving and manipulative from near go when boys don’t matter one iota, and the prize is the “best friend” or the highest ranking social clique. Training ground zero that sets us up neatly for the games that boys and men play to maximize their “innate”* need to sow as many fertile fields as possible with the least amount of encumbrance.

I posted a link to my Facebook page from Slate’s DoubleX, summarizing the continuing state of affairs – that being that men are still encouraged by society to be schmucks, and women are expected to contort themselves in flanking maneuvers – and ended up in a discussion with a writer friend who is decidedly anti-marriage at the least and anti-monogamy at the most. Her contention – as tired and worn as feminism itself –  is that marriage is a trap. Women should strive to be militant in their abhorrence of it, and that the fact that marriage is on the downward slope (although – statistically, relationships dominate in terms of society. More of us couple exclusively than don’t) is proof that women have “come a long way, baby”.

Marriage or civil unions, in my opinion, protect both partners when the aim is a long-term – possibly life long – relationship. There is no other option that better ensures the safety of each than a certificate of binding and entwining. People who live together without any sort of legal sanction, even if they are proactive enough to change all the beneficiaries on insurance and studiously set up the joint this and that will still find themselves a signature or legal protection short at the end of that terrible day when something unthinkable happens. And something unthinkable is not just what happens to other people. Though the cohabitation crowd thinks not and begs the question, who is really the romantic with unrealistic expectations here?

But my friend, not really knowing me at all, thought my belief in marriage, and my ire at the way young people today blithely ignore reality because it gets in the way of spontaneity or is so “yesterday in a grandparent kind of way”, is based on my sweetly romantic notions about relationships.

What?

I am not sweet nor  particularly romantic. I am the women who nagged her husband of just a month to make an appointment with the lawyer so we could draw up wills, get POA’s and such settled before our marriage certificate was even inked and in the post. I am the one who point-blank told her late husband that “I don’t play house so when spring rolls around if we are not planning a wedding, I will consider myself free to pursue other options”. Knowing what you want, stating it, and acting is  – in my opinion – what “independence” means.

My marriage is quite cuddly, and I am of the opinion that married is a far preferable state to single, but that is because Rob and I work at the cuddly, fan those flames and because out of the nearly 30 years I have been legally an adult, I have spent 2/3rds of the time single. I am not easily fooled by the feminist nostalgia about “having it all” nor I am dumb enough to fall for the notion that independence is something one can only have when one is alone. Independence is an internal mindset that should not be confused with one’s physical state of being – ever.

Being single is lonely and it can be scary when push comes to shove. It’s doable. I did it. But I am not naive enough to prefer it. I am also not so unschooled in the ways of survival that I don’t know that there is a definite advantage to being properly matched and mated. I don’t advocate pairing up with just anyone. And that’s brings me back to the problem of young men and young women. The latter still believes that men can be molded and the former know this well enough to use the knowledge to get sex without deserving it.

You should like the person you live with. Respect him and be respected in turn. There should be fun and love and a willingness to throw in together come what may. There should also be a healthy realistic perspective because no relationship is perfect and bumps and ebb/flow is normal. My perception is that too few people go into relationships with any idea of where they want to ultimately be years down the road. They are suckered by the ridiculous free love notions of the 70’s and the Me/Me/Me mentality of the Boomers that is the root of a lot more than relationship issues in our society today.

I love being married, but only because I love Rob. He is my match. My lobster. There is just as much to lose as there is to gain when troths are plighted, and one must put priority on the intangibles first. Love is more important than physical independence, but it’s not attainable until you are truly independent. Only those who have the courage to state their needs and see that they are met and who listen and give in the same vein are going to find contentment in marriage. It’s only when you peel away the juvenile view of romance that you find the real thing.

*Which is just so much bullshit. Men and women are not bonobos. We are not slaves to our Jungian archetypes. The human species is the least endangered in terms of population, so the idea that men are “seed sowers” and can’t help themselves is just one more baseless argument put forth by people who are just too selfish and lazy and own – out loud – that they are selfish and lazy where relationships are concerned.


Front cover of the book Love Letters of Great ...

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Rob courted me with the assistance of Yahoo and Google. 600 and some emails later we were married.

In the wee hours of yesterday morning, some douchebag hacked the older of the two accounts, which exists only as a storage box for old correspondence/love letters between Rob and I. It’s derelict otherwise.

The culprit changed the password but forget to change the settings, so it wasn’t difficult to get back in and lock it up. But what to do about the history before junking the account?

The server cleverly prohibits exporting old files en masse. For that service, one must “upgrade”.

“I don’t think so,” Rob said.

And he sat down and within an hour managed to jumpstart the process of moving all my precious mail intact and to another location.

I’ll close that account now. But it deserves this final eulogy for the part it played in something awesome, love.

 


Happy Valentine's Day

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I was hiding Valentine’s booty the other day and warned Rob not to peek.

“I hate Valentine’s,” he said. “Why is there Valentine’s? I wouldn’t participate at all if it weren’t for you.”

and your insistence that we celebrate every Hallmark X on the calendar … but that was unspoken.

He’s not a curmudgeon about it.

Okay, he is, but he believes that love should be expressed in the moment and not confined to arbitrarily set time periods.

Some of my exuberance stems from the fact that for much of my life, Valentine’s was a holiday I watched others celebrate and now that I have children and husband I am a full participant and it’s awesome. But I really don’t see evil in blocking out time to make an effort to express feelings that – even though they can be spoken and shown anytime – are more often than not lost in the daily rush.

Love is worth a big deal holiday of its own, in my very humble opinion.

There is still a bit of Valentine prep left to do, but in the spirit of spontaneity and dissociating the feelings from the prison of the calendar, I offer a tune.

To my husband, Rob, with much love always and an ocean of appreciation for everything he does for me – which is an awful lot – without any thought for himself.

You rock, Baby. XOXOX


Kindred Spirits

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A soul mate is a once in a lifetime thing and when this lifetime is through the departing soul crosses to the other side where it waits patiently to be reunited with its mate because it is incomplete without its match. Like a pair of socks.

The patient part alone is more than enough proof that this theory is not true. I can’t remember a time when Will waited patiently for anything. Much as he loved me, he never let me forget that I kept him waiting in the beginning.

Our match was, in some respects, purely an emotional and physical one; we had very little in common in terms of interests in the very beginning, but I knew the moment I  saw him that we would be together at some point. It began as a friendship, and when he decided this was no longer enough, he waited me out an entire summer while I dated other people and got over my fear of the emotional intimacy he represented. It’s impossible to say how we would have held up over time, but had I not met him, I would be never married today.

The topic of soul mates comes up from time to time on the YWBB. One of the first times I put forth an opinion about it in my early posting days, I came down on the negative side. At least this is according to Rob, who is currently cleaning out his collection of favorite posts. He ran across my original reply over the weekend and brought it up when we were on messenger the other night night waiting for my daughter to fall asleep.

I have thought more about the soul mates issue since as I have run across other posts that mention or discuss it. I am still not inclined to believe in it myself. I think that what is meant, when someone refers to their significant other as a soul mate, is more in line with the idea behind kindred spirits. In fact Rob made reference to this term once in our early correspondence. According to the dictionary it means “of similar nature or character”. I do think that sometimes you just connect with some people in a way that defies logic, and that some people are destined to be a part of your life. I don’t think it is a once in a lifetime thing though, and I think that this can apply to non-romantic relationships as well.  For  example, I knew my daughter before she was born, and she has actually told me that she chose me to be her mommy, not once but twice.

Rob and I are kindred spirits. I sensed it a bit in the beginning when I would read his posts. It was a feeling that compelled me to reply to a post of his in the General Forum one night. I offered to be his “evil twin”. I needed to meet him. Learn about him. Know him. I have experienced this before, with Will of course, but also with friends I have made over the years.

I have no great guru-like theory myself about this type of connecting, but I’ve read, or maybe heard, the following one somewhere, and it makes sense to me. This theory is based on the assumption that reincarnation is a fact and that we will live our way through multiple lives on this plane before moving on to the next. It proposes that we go through eternity with a set group of kindred spirits, or soul mates if you prefer, with whom we are always connected. Our relationships change from one lifetime to the next. Husband/wife. Parent/child. Siblings. Friends. There is the inevitable ebb and flow which naturally takes on different dimensions when the vast breadth of time is considered, but the connections are always evident to us.

What’s funny to me is that the people most likely to be spouting the soul mates line are those least likely to be introspective enough about relationships to require likeness of mind in a prospective mate to justify the label in the first place. It is purely a physical thing with them. It is love at first sight with a heavy emphasis on sight. The sharing of ideas and values is less important than the establishment of mutual chemistry. In my opinion that is not what is meant by soul mates, as they explain it, and is certainly not kindred spirits as I know it. A poster on the board wrote something to the effect that she didn’t believe that two people could, or would, reveal their innermost thoughts via email or on the phone. I suppose that is true for some. For me it would be impossible to keep myself to myself and from someone with whom I felt I already knew. I trusted Rob with my first blog entries before we even began to correspond in earnest. My blog was raw and rambling and much of what I wrote could have been easily misinterpreted, but I knew I could trust him and he has more than shown that my trust is well-placed.

When I read about looking for another soul mate, I am puzzled. Kindred spirits seek each other out and with the help of destiny, cross time and space to be reunited. There are 1500 miles and an international border between Rob and I. There was a 10 year age gap between myself and Will. Rob and his late wife, Shelley, were born 2300 miles apart, but in each case it was meant to be; we all found each other. It is not a matter of finding however so much as being found which for the most part means simply being open to the possibility.