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.
Now that I am no longer married, I’ve decided to take a peek into the wide world of dating. Although I know I am capable of living alone, I’d much rather be in a relationship–to have that special someone by my side to share tacos, sunsets and all the other joys of life.
I want to be purposeful about the process—to be mindful and take it seriously–but also stay lighthearted, have fun, and try to see the humor in all of it. I’ve joined a few meet-up groups and have created profiles on a few dating apps. As I have been swiping left and right, I was amused to find the voice of Toni Tennille singing “You Better Shop Around” running through my head:
“Try to get yourself a bargain, girl Don't be sold on the very first one Good-looking guys come a dime a dozen Try to find the one who's gonna give you true loving
Before you take someone and say I do, now Make sure he's in love with you, now Make sure that his love is true, now I hate to see you feeling sad and blue, now My momma told me, you better shop around”
I have noticed that for most people, the word divorce rolls off the tongue like any other word, but it is not that way for me. When I try to say it, I feel my throat tighten and when someone else says it, I feel myself flinch. The word holds pain and sorrow–so much so that when asked about my marital status, I prefer to say I am no longer married rather than using that word.
For a short period of time, I was seeing a great life coach who helped me with many things, one of which was re-framing this aspect of my life. She encouraged me to come up with my own definition for the word. I tried to see beyond what I was experiencing at that time, and came up with this definition:
Divorce: A deep, dark, difficult decision, out of which rises a door, through which discovery, development and a new direction are possible.
I was texting my friend Kevin awhile ago and he gave me a pep talk on staying positive. I replied that mostly, I am staying positive. I just wish the future wasn’t so muddy. He replied,
The future is muddy regardless…just sayin’!
I paused to think about what he said, then had to agree he was right. The future is always muddy. Regardless of well-laid plans, current health conditions, or whatever else is happening right now, the future is muddy and uncertain.
In the book, “The Immortalists”, one of the characters states that her mother gave her the gift of uncertainty. When I read this, I had to set the book down and ponder. Uncertainty is a gift? How is that even possible? I had to unpack this idea.