A young friend of mine told me this morning that his fiancé moved in with him last week and that they are getting married in two weeks. They have been together for some time now so there in nothing rushed in what is happening. But he could not wonder what the future holds for him. His most basic question, one that many people struggle with, is “why me?” He wonders why she wants to spend a life with him. I told him it is because she really likes what she sees and that he gives her everything she wants. Now I have to admit that I speculated a bit on that point because I have never met his fiancé. But Adam is a really good guy and I believe my assumption to be a safe one.
He then asked me how long I have been with my wife. I embarrassingly had to stop and think about that for a second and decided that telling him how long we had been together was even more important.
My back story is one of too many failed relationships prior to the one I am in now. There are many reasons for those failed relationships and good deal, probably 90% or greater, are the result of my decision making. That decision making is more than just who I chose, but how I acted, what I said, what I did and a plethora of other things during those relationships. My failed relationships spanned from a few days to many years but finally I got my head out of my ass and took note of what I had done wrong. The things I had done wrong can be boiled down to a few basic truths: dishonesty, disloyalty, fear, doubt, and insecurity. And I can wrap all those things up by saying, I just did not know how to talk or to relate to people, not just women, but everyone.
I told Adam that probably the most important thing in a relationship has to be honesty. And that honesty has to start well before the marriage. This is where fear always crept into my psyche. I feared that if I was totally honest about what was going around in my head then certainly the woman I was with would go running for the hills. What I failed to do was consider that that might have been the relationship saver rather than killer. The other relationship killer, absolutely, is resentment. Resentment is the poison you drink while you wait for the other person to become ill. But in truth resentment is simply the surfacing of our own shortcomings that we either deny or are unwilling to overcome.
I think we human beings have a natural amount of insecurity which shows up in our lives in a variety of ways. I feel badly for women because they are bombarded with the commercial world’s definition of beauty. They compare themselves to the reigning queens of beauty in music, on the silver screen and in the advertisements of the magazines they read. I can tell you from personal experience that I have known any number of women who were truly gorgeous on the outside and either hollow or some other negative characteristic to the core. Then I know a lot of people who are absolutely gorgeous. Most will never turn a head but what springs forth from them is a beautiful heart. True beauty is an inside job. Now this is not to say that physical attraction should not play a role in a good relationship, it does of course! But that can only be the start of things. There is a natural progression from that point that must happen.
I stated in an earlier post that you should marry your best friend. That is, this is the person you talk to freely and easily. The only time you edit your speech is to be politic about what you are saying without sacrificing honesty. Honesty is the bedrock of all good relationships. Partners who have been together a long time not only know their mate’s good qualities but also their shortcomings. All human beings develop a host of shortcomings. Those who desire to better themselves reduce or remove those shortcomings as much as possible. I like to use the common shortcoming of jealousy. I call it one of the two most useless feelings any person can have, the other be resentment. But I chose jealousy here because I firmly believe it can be entirely defeated. That is because I believe jealousy is a measurement of an individual’s insecurity. The secure man takes pride in other men admiring the woman he is with. In fact, if he could, he would invite it. He also does not worry that his wife is out with friends some of whom may be male. This is also the trust aspect of good relationships, you trust your mate no matter what.
I suggested to Adam that, if he had not already done so, he talk to his fiancé about his fears and his insecurities. I explained that everyone has them and anyone who claims they do not is a liar. Not only does your mate need to know such things so (s)he knows what is going on with you, but has the right to know such things. I think it an obligatory part of successful relationships.
To this Adam said he had always seen himself a “the rock” in the relationship. I asked him why since, as I explained, a rock never moves forward. I suggested he look at the relationship as mutually supportive as you move through life so that when one or the other has a weak moment you have all the support you need in your mate. They instinctively understand and are ready. They have you by your arm ready to hold you up when you stumble, which you will!
Society today in general seems to have a lot of trouble listening. When someone is explaining something to you not only is it polite to quietly listen until they are done, it is crucial to understanding one another. Some people just cannot seem to help themselves and interrupt the other person by talking over them before they are done. This has the effect of turning a nice discussion into a confrontational one. It is always best to hear the person out, take breath, literally, and then in considered terms, respond to what they have said. At the very least this shows respect for what has been said. That is particularly good when you find yourself in the position of having to disagree with what has been said. What is at work here is respectful consideration. People like to think what they say is of value but when they are interrupted it says just the opposite and who wants to be disrespected? In a marriage as soon as one party starts thinking the other does not respect them, it does not bode well for the future. It is then that questions of commitment and love also come into question.
I think it wise to take, at the very least, a mental snapshot of the person you are marrying or otherwise entering into a long term committed relationship. Remember the reasons that got you there, why you found that person so attractive. Those things you find attractive will not change much except in a positive direction. A good heart is always a good heart, it does not change. A kind, caring, considerate, deeply committed and honest person also does not change and those are the qualities that take you through the years. Outer beauty fades, sex drive fades, and energy level fades among other things. But that is to be expected and that happens the successful relationship realizes that just being with that other person makes their day. Their love is shown in a thousand other ways and even though they feel extremely comfortable in the relationship, they have also committed themselves to always working on it. But when everything and everyone else seems to fail us, we can count on our loved one because we know for certain they are always there for us.