There’s a younger man in my office who recently became engaged. He met his now-fiancé in high school and had been dating her for the past 12+ years. When he told me he had proposed, I congratulated him then asked if he’d like a little piece of advice.
In Parker Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak, he talks about how we use the word “make” a lot. We use it when we talk about making friends, babies, and love. But in order for these things to be healthy, we need to be growing them instead. We need to be growing friends, babies, and love. That’s how real development happens.
The same is true for our relationships. Healthy relationships aren’t made. They’re grown. Kute Blackson writes,
“The real purpose of a relationship is about two people coming together to serve the growth and evolution of each other’s soul.”
A healthy relationship is like a plant. It can become stagnant, wilt, or die when we fail to take care of it. Like a plant, our relationships need the following things to be healthy and grow:
Lately, I’ve been trying to practice being in the present moment. I’m learning to accept and be present with both the comfortable and uncomfortable things in my life. This week, I discovered the importance of not only practicing this with myself, but also in my relationships with other people as well.
Here’s what happened.
My dear sister called and was very upset about something happening in her life. I wanted to soothe her and make the pain go away. My mind was racing trying to think of what to say and how to help and I spouted out a few suggestions.
And then she said,“I don’t need you to fix this. I just need you to listen.”
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.
After spending over a year on the dating app Bumble, I’ve decided to call it quits for awhile. I’ve deleted the app from my phone and am now using the time I spent swiping, chatting and meeting people to focus on other things.
As I look back and review my time spent on the app, songs always have a way of bubbling up in my head to characterize the experience. In addition to my post, 7 Songs for 7 Months on Bumble, here are 7 more songs that capture the final few months:
I click “print” and wait a few seconds for the “I’m on it” whirring sound from my printer but instead I get crickets and error messages. Argh. Why isn’t it working?
I could say the same thing about my marriage.
I’d been having a problem with the printer. For some reason, it wasn’t printing. I was sending documents but 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.
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.
Spending the last seven months on the dating app Bumble has been an educational experience.
I’ve been taking a dive into the wild and a bit wacky world of online dating. When I first started this foray, I quickly discovered there were a lot of things I didn’t know. I found myself googling a number of words I’d never heard before. What’s a sapiophile? A pluviophile? And then there’s all the acronyms and terms. LTR. FWB. Ghosting. And what does that symbol mean?!
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:
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.