I wrote the original of this piece over two years ago. Some may not think I am qualified to write about how to maintain and grow a healthy relationship with a significant other, with my history, but I disagree. I believe my rather tarnished experience gives me the a distinct advantage of knowing the dangers and pitfalls. An active team approach in running interference against them is vital to the health–the very life–of love.
After several revisions, some pretty tough life events in only less than two years, and some gnashing of my teeth, the fighter in me decided to get to the bottom of this relationship conundrum where people start to let the world come between them.
I talked with some women I know. A couple of them were helpful. Others, um, not so much. I took what I liked and kicked the rest against the curb. I’m not here to simply please, not anymore. I don’t have time or any inclination for pretense.
As we are only on this earth a short time, some of us less than others, my goal is to make the most of the time I have left. I prefer to do this with people I love.
But it’s so much more complicated than a dream or preference.
When one begins to feel that no matter what they do, they are not backed up by that significant person they’ve devoted their own warrior spirit to–their silver bracelets, badass boots, Lasso of Truth–the whole shebang, they grow weary.
And I am so freaking exhausted.
As my wise aunt told me, “Start out like you can hold out.” Well, when you do and a booby trap opens underneath your feet every ten or twenty steps, you wonder if your best could ever be enough.
She also told me to make sure I get the male point of view. I have a couple of male friends whom I trust implicitly. They will tell me if I’m full of shit or if my concerns are legit.
I have said the same things in every possible way now for more than enough time to be heard. Meaning, to be respected and for things to change.
My words are not just little black marks on this screen, or paper. These words are my battle cry. These words will never be silenced again, but they will also not be repeated.
Feed the Fire
“But sometimes, what we (men in relationships) see as a threat really isn’t one, and what we see as no big deal is something that is potentially hurtful to those we love…
The gist of gap between men and women is, to my eyes, not strength or natural aptitude, but our differing senses of prioritization.” –Brent Sanders
Life is complicated. Love is work.
There is so much we have to do, and so many things we want to do.
Work, family, kids, aging parents, our own aging issues, medical issues, and day-to-day responsibilities can bog us down and eventually suffocate an otherwise healthy and vibrant relationship.
Before you know it, you’ve gone weeks or even months without flirting, dancing, laughing, making love, or dreaming.
Eventually, we stop noticing the other person the way we once did. Our hearts don’t flutter at the sound of their feet on the porch. We begin to see the broken lines that infatuation and desire blurred in the beginning.
He’s surly and insensitive. She’s opinionated and cold. He doesn’t acknowledge me when I speak. When I reach around and kiss her neck tenderly, my arms around her waist as she washes a dish, she shrugs me off. She stopped making sure my clothes are all hung up and folded without a wrinkle. He never tells me how beautiful I am and how lucky he is to have me. She gets tired of my family’s insensitivity towards her. His family doesn’t even know me, or care to. She’s tired of it always being about what I want and what my family wants and needs. He doesn’t care that I miss my kids so fiercely because they’re thousands of miles away. His friends and family were ok with me until I said or did things with which they disagreed, now they’ve turned their backs on me after all I’ve done, I thought I was family, too. She just takes things too personal. We don’t snuggle in bed. Instead, we turn in opposite directions and though only inches away, we are worlds apart.
We need to know that we are just as sexy, beautiful, smart, funny, handsome, strong, desired and needed as we were when things began.
We need to know that our imperfections, in the eyes of our lovers/husbands/wives, are simply part of our humanity and they see past them to the perfectly imperfect person with whom they first fell in love.
A woman can feel that extra weight makes her less attractive and less desired. A man may wonder if his wife loves him because every time he reaches for her she says she’s tired.
We need to know that time spent with one another is much more important than that television program, the news, money, things, the phone, what’s on Facebook, the weather, the latest gossip, what everyone else is doing…you get my point.
We need to take the time to nurture that relationship, give it the attention it needs, and make the other person feel, without any doubt, they are the most important thing in our lives and always will be.
We need to let it breathe.
It’s simple, but made to be so complicated. Why not do what you did when you first wanted that person in your life? Why not tell him how much you appreciate the little things he does, how handsome he looks in that particular shade of blue, or how you appreciate his efforts? Why not tell her she’s beautiful (without her having to ask) and when she puts on a touch of makeup or does her hair, make sure she knows that you notice it? Why not talk her up to your friends and family like you did before, and defend her when they talk down against her? Why not be grateful for how hard he is trying to keep working and providing through his physical pain?
Reach out and touch one another often. Gaze into her eyes. Give him a back rub. Write a little note and put it in his lunch. Whisper sweet nothings in her ear.
LOOK at that person you promised to love, cherish, respect and protect. When they talk, don’t show them your back or the side of your face. SEE past the annoying words and listen to the sounds of pain, longing, hope and fear. HONOR their feelings even if you disagree. PLACE their heart high and don’t let the poison of this world seep in.
Make a conscious effort to breathe life into your relationship every day. If you only cover it up, hoping it will just be okay, your apathy will just snuff out what was once a beautiful flame.