One sunny, Sunday morning, I walked down to a local bakery for a muffin. It was a beautiful day and I decided to sit at a table outside of the store and enjoy my treat right there.
A middle aged man walked up with a long haired dachshund. The dog was adorable–with curly, reddish brown fur and one blue eye and one green eye. He tied the dog outside and went in for his own bakery treat.
As the dog stood there waiting, he was alert and perky, looking up at everyone as they passed by. I watched as people pointed at the dog and smiled. Some stopped to bend down and pat his head. The dog wagged his tail in thanks, and generously smiled back in his own dog-like way. Everyone who interacted with him walked away smiling.
Although that may be true for him, what I know for sure is that when I fight reality, reality always wins.
When I fight the way my body looks When I fight the truth about a relationship When I fight the way people really are When I fight what my situation looks like…it’s a losing battle.
When I fight reality, I suffer. Because when I fight reality, reality always wins.
So in this new year, my goal is to stop fighting reality and instead to see and accept things as they are without judgement. I cannot force people or situations into being anything different than they are at this point in time. Maya Angelou’s wise statement, “When people show you who they are you have to believe them,” can be applied to any situation. I have to believe and accept the reality of both who people are and the way things currently are.
Living alone has its perks. Having the whole place to myself, especially the bed can feel like a luxury. I can eat what I’d like when I’d like and play only the music I want to hear. I can be as tidy or as messy as I choose. And when it comes to the bed, I can stretch out across the entire space and the covers are never stolen.
But living alone can also be a drag. My place can be too quiet and feel too spacious when it is just me. Sharing a home creates a strong connection with another person. There’s a give and take involved–and when done well–both parties become better people through the experience.
And when it comes to the bed, well, there’s nothing else quite like sharing that space. A intimate connection is created when you sleep with someone. By this I am not just referring to having sex, but also to the act of actually falling asleep with someone next to you. It is a private and personal experience that involves vulnerability and deep trust. There are certain intimate conversations that can only take place in the bed. It’s a very unique space.
Healthy, meaningful relationships take work. Attention needs to be paid to what matters to each person involved. It’s like each person in the relationship has a Love Bucket with a small hole at the bottom. In order for each person to feel loved and emotionally secure in the relationship, regular deposits need to be made into their Love Bucket. If regular deposits are not made, the Love Bucket slowly drains until it is empty. This is not a good place to be.
In order to maintain a healthy, full Love Bucket, it is important to be aware of the following seven things:
1-What fills one person’s Love Bucket may be different that what fills another’s. A careful reading of “The Five Love Languages”, by Dr. Gary Chapman is a good place to discover what deposits are meaningful to each person. It could be acts of service, words of affirmation, affection, spending time together or giving gifts. Take some time to determine what is most meaningful to you.
When most people ask why my marriage ended, I usually reply that we were never doing the same dance. It was much more complicated than that, of course, but this is the most simple way to explain it. I was trying to tango with someone doing a line dance. It just didn’t work.
I stayed a lot longer than I should have for a variety of reasons, one of which was that I did not want to be divorced. I did not want my kids to be from a “broken home”.
But since we weren’t doing the same dance, there was no love connection. Even though we were living under the same roof, in a sense we were already separated and broken.
In Grounded Spirituality, Jeff Brown writes:
..many seemingly intact families are deeply broken…a home is not broken when parents are separated or divorced. A home is broken when there is an absence of love.”
I’ve heard it said that if you don’t learn the lesson the first time, the Universe will give it to you again and again until you do learn it. Oprah describes this by saying that the lesson will arrive again; it’s just wearing a different pair of pants. It’s a good visual to remember.
Recently, I learned the hard way another aspect of the DO NOT PUSH lesson I wrote about in a previous posting. The lesson arrived in two different forms—one wearing skinny jeans and the other wearing pants made of wood and glass.
Let me explain.
I have a friend who is in a particularly difficult place right now. I am trying to understand exactly what is going on and have been peppering her with questions. I wanted to dig deep and help her see the light, but that‘s not what she needed at this time. Also, it was not my place to do this. I pushed so hard that I may have cracked her and broken the friendship.
In a conversation about marriage, my wise sister, Chris, once told me,
Everyone has shit in their marriage, Karin. You just need to be able to talk about the shit.”
Over the past year, I have thought a lot about her advice and how much it describes what was missing in my marriage. It also brought to mind the marriage and relationship struggles my friends have shared with me, a few of which involved some pretty difficult things. Two friends in particular went through what most people would consider deal-breaking situations, yet in both cases, they worked through them and say their marriages are now stronger than they’ve ever been. They feel connected on a much deeper level.
Being able to transform the shit in a marriage or relationship made think about gardening and how the addition of manure helps to make a richer, healthier soil. Maybe the same is true for marriage or any other meaningful relationship. Depending on how it is handled, maybe some shit can actually be good.