Ever notice when you find the right mug–one where the character and quality feel really good–it can positively enhance your coffee or tea experience?
I’ve discovered the same is true for finding the right person. Not that finding the right person will only enhance our coffee or tea experience, but all of life’s experiences as well. And the right person must feel good from the start, just the way they are.
I’ve learned this lesson about the similarities between finding the right mug and finding the right person the hard way by mistakes I’ve made in the past.
Towards the end of my marriage, I was having a problem with the printer. For some reason, it wasn’t printing. I was sending documents, but I kept getting error messages. I’m not a techie person, so I asked my former husband to help. But he didn’t seem to understand how much this mattered to me, so it wasn’t high on his list of things to do. In fact, it wasn’t on his radar screen at all.
So the printer sat in its error state.
Weeks later, I asked for help again. He finally sat down and tried a few things, but nothing worked. I asked if we could call the Geek Squad to look at it, but he didn’t like the idea of someone monkeying around with our computer.
So again, the printer sat in its error state.
This went on for months–with me needing a printer that worked, asking for help and him not truly understanding how much this meant to me.
This question always baffles me. When I’m asked this, my reply is “Of course I’m in a relationship with him–we are relating to each other.” In my opinion, aren’t we in some type of relationship with everyone in our lives? Aren’t we in a relationship with the people in our family? With our friends? Our co-workers? Our neighbors? With ourselves?
So the question, “Are you in a relationship with him?” isn’t enough for me. There are other more meaningful questions to ask–questions that get to the heart of the things.
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 describes the gist of it. I needed a tango and he needed a line dance–two very different things.
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. The “home” was already 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.”
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.