Friday, February 25, 2011

What's Love Got To Do, Got To Do With It?

As you may know, if you have ever read my blog, I am married with children. Sounds typical and idyllic, but is it? Depending on your current age, society may have dictated to you "get married, have children" or "have children maybe get married" or "stay single". No matter what your situation, if you are in, have ever been in or would ever like to be in, a relationship... read on! You are about to receive the age old wisdom of Mama Sarah.

When beginning a relationship we have those feelings that Tina Turner speaks of in "What's Love Got To Do With It?" She says:
You must understand
That the touch of your hand
Makes my pulse react
That it's only the thrill
Of boy meeting girl
Opposites attract
Note: Did you know that scientists have tested the endorphins in people who are newly in love and the really passionate endorphins only last physiologically for one year? So, remember that when you think things are starting to get dull and SPICE them up yourself! Nature can't do it all for you!
Let's start with some thoughts about "What is a Relationship?" According to the Free Online Dictionary:
Relationship (noun) Definition:
1. the state of being connected or related
2. association by blood or marriage; kinship
3. the mutual dealings, connections, or feelings that exist between two parties, countries, people, etc. a business relationship
4. an emotional or sexual affair or liaison
5. (Mathematics) Logic Maths another name for relation 
Well for the purposes of today's blog, lets forget about number 5 - relation in Math. (Yuck! Math is my LEAST favourite subject next to Chemistry!) However, math is important in your finances and chemistry for intimacy so I guess they KIND of are important!

I of course, being a self described expert, shall pass on my knowledge and expertise, to you my fans. (OK yes, I am joking here, no one is an expert, we all learn our life lessons and move on.... I am not kidding about my fans though.)
The past year has been a time of great reflection for my husband and I as well as a time to determine how we wish to create our future. I say reflection as we had to decide if we both wanted to move in the same direction, if we had some of the same goals and were willing to work together, no matter how hard, to get there. We both also had to analyze our past relationships and assess when we did the right thing and where we were wrong. No matter how easily the relationship fell apart or how easy it is to blame on one person, it is the actions of both that ultimately  cause the breakdown.
I say create our future because, if we don't work together to accomplish our goals and we are not honest with each other about what goes wrong, don't take personal responsibility and don't help ourselves repair it, we will not succeed. In our case it was a huge adjustment to move across the country. For Len, he knew it was possible he may never see his friends or children again. For me, I knew that I was taking my children to a new province, away from all of our family and placing them in situation of great adjustment. We had to play the pros and cons very seriously in this decision and we eventually made the final decision together. (I apologize for the run on sentences, it has been a problem since about grade 2, when my teacher Mrs. Ritchie told me ... Sarah! Those are run on sentences! Oops doing it again! Please let's get back on topic?)
It would be easy for Len to say, "I only moved because Sarah gave me an ultimatum." (Yes, I did, guilty!) It would be easy for me to say, "It was your choice, you didn't have to come." However, we did make the choice together and planned the trip, our method of travel, etc. all together. In hindsight, we have no doubt we made lots of mistakes! I could blame some on him, he could blame some on me, we can BOTH blame the trucker who hit us, but we did this together and there really is NO ONE to blame. 

Although I am going to blog this in relation to marriage, please note that it is true for ALL relationships and apply my advice appropriately to your situation or don't. It is your choice! Although you may not agree with all I have to say, I think that you will concur with much of it. When some people get married, in a church, there is a requirement to attend pre-marital counseling first to assess whether this is the right decision for the couple. No, this is not something I had to do and that was ok with me. In retrospect, it might have been a good idea, although I highly doubt many couples go to session 3 and decide, wait a minute, I am NOT marrying you! I do think a lot of us know before we walk down that aisle or go before that justice of the peace, that we are doing the wrong thing, but do it anyway. Why? I am guessing for many people it is embarrassment, feel trapped or think we have to get married because everyone does it, or this is the "American" dream.

I was in the wedding industry for 5 years and watched couples who adored each other get married; couples who put up with each other get married; couples who were simply getting married to satisfy the parents. If you are in a relationship think about why. What do you want to get out of it? What are you willing to put into it? How are you going to deal with the boredom that comes along with it? The kids that get "in the way" and don't allow you time for yourself? What will you do when times get hard? Finances fall apart? How will you deal with those situations where there is "another person" interested in you and quite willing to try to pull you out of your relationship? Are you prepared to deal with those moments when your partner's looks begin to fade? They put on some extra weight? Frustrated because he/she is working too much to support the family? Expect him/her to work then do all the housework too? Maybe their energy is waning? One or both of you are feeling less attracted to each other? One is progressing well in a career or life path and the other feels left behind? Many of these feelings happen in every relationship. A couple has to actively and consciously work through the less than fabulous times.

It always makes me sad to see couples break up, especially when there are children involved. It makes me even sadder though, to watch couples who are unhappy or bad for each other, stay together "because of the children". I just don't think that helps anyone. So, when I see couples that are not working, on their relationship who have children and they breakup the family, sometimes I am relieved even though I feel sad for them all. I hope at those times parents will put the children first, find ways to communicate that are positive, withhold venting and blame in front of the kids and be amicable even when they don't feel like it. 

Stubborn couples can be a challenge! Sometimes they are BOTH doing the wrong thing, not sharing information, not being honest about their feelings, blaming each other for the disharmony. Unless each person in the couple is able to sit down or write out or go to a counselor - something - to let out their feelings, hurt, anger, frustration, lack of motivation, personal and shared goals. I can tell you that Len and I have had to do this many times. We love each other, laugh together, appreciate each other, are attracted to each other and still wonder at times if we are doing the right thing. It never changes for anyone. As soon as things start to get too comfortable, it is easy to take each other for granted. No relationship is simple, without hard times or perfect. 

My thoughts to you all are simply:
  1. Love who you are with - and who they are inside and out
  2. Laugh with them (not at them - they don't like that too much!)
  3. Remain intimate - remember to kiss and say I LOVE YOU and mean it
  4. Plan together and PLAY together
  5. Encourage each other and show excitement
  6. Be open and honest - even when it hurts
  7. Communicate regularly
  8. Don't get lost in the day to day - it easy to do with kids, jobs, commitments - remember YOU are the commitment for each other and it needs to remain near the top!
  9. Remember the things that made you fall in love and revive them
  10. Do what is right ... for you and your relationship - sometimes that means counseling, sometimes it means separate, sometimes it means apologizing or admitting you made a mistake and it always means being true to yourself
Well, I suppose I have rattled on sufficiently, having adequately earned my Masters in the School of Hard Knocks and I pass on my knowledge and understanding (or lack thereof). I wish you all light, love, happiness and honesty - to yourself and your mate. No couple is happy all the time, but it is remembering the good, forgiving the bad and moving forward that will allow you to sustain that marriage. (Now I have to go grab Len and throw him on the bed before the kids get home from school!)

Now on a slightly lighter note! Many of you have heard of and read the late Erma Bombeck's advice over the years. No, I do not purport to be her reincarnate, but I would like to post the poem she wrote about her life as she was dying of cancer. I do think that much of it is relative to today's topic.

If I Had My Life To Live Over - By Erma Bombeck

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. 
I would have talked less and listened more. 
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded. 
I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace 
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains. 

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life. 
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. 
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. 

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.' There would have been more 'I love you's' More 'I'm sorry's.' 

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute.look at it and really see it . . live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!

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