None of us think of relationships this way, but the courtesy of allowing room for the other to be who they are forms a lifelong framework, if we so choose.
What does “allowing room” mean?
Well, Hortense, room equates to latitude and understanding. Within the boundaries of law, morality, etiquette and goodwill, women should allow men to be men, and men should allow women to be women. Observing our specific mate’s version of malehood or femalehood is part of learning about them.
What does ” (being) who they are” mean?
Being who they are is the characteristic and integral behavior of each sex. Women and men are different, and understanding them from the perspective of the other can be difficult, and, in extreme cases, fatal for a relationship. Finding a way to rejoice in the differences and to be at one with our opposite is finding peace with who our mate is.
Acceptance; finding a way to want what is mostly for the good is a fine way to progress through life with someone.
The middle ages must have been a boom time for Home Depot and Lowes. Royalty of every rank built castles; castles with strong walls, moats and general defence in mind.
If you were a sufficiently wealthy royal, you’d join with your king or queen and they would find castles of other royals – loyal to other kings or queens – that he or she figured were vulnerable. Or had in some way interfered with their estates or bruised their knee or something.
The point is that alliances were constantly shifting. Intrigue and grasping for power was the way they operated, the drive that kept those with the resources motivated.
Being a royal subject anchored a lot of everyday folk. Allegiance wasn’t lightly undertaken, and often the cost was high. Fighting for the perceived common aim formed the backbone of many lives, particularly the men.
This might come as a surprise to women, but men still want to ally themselves, and with one special woman…one they consider to be special. Men are commonly thought to be flighty when it comes to loyalty, but evidence is mounting (if you’ll pardon the expression) that this is not an accurate characterization. We want to be an equal and different half in an equal relationship, but the whole idea appears to be slipping away from us. We’re under siege, and we’re not quite sure why, nor what happened.
Yes, men must be admirable to be admired, but that effort is only worth the sacrifice if we’re admired by someone we think will be there for us.
Coupling up is an optimistic act for the future, moderated by expectations. No matter how clear our vision of the ideal mate, we still have to deal with the reality, a real person.
Real people change. Time and events modify the way we see pretty much everything, including ourselves, and part of sticking with someone is awareness of actual and perceived change.
One of my hopes is for someone who understands this change phenomenon, and how we’re both going to be different tomorrow from today, next year from this. Life is deceptive in this area, because we think we view life changing around us while we remain solidly anchored, like someone watching a movie. In fact, we’re all changing in different ways all the time, at different speeds. No material entity has a permanent mooring; that’s the job of spiritual pursuits.
Not all change will be good, naturally. Finding ways to communicate that we’re noticing things move along, both inside and outside the relationship, might be one of those critical foundational functions that make it easier to stick together.
Notice and report. Communication and feedback.
Finding someone is easy, but finding the right person is not.
A friend recently pointed out to me that she knows of women who have given up completely on the idea of finding that right person. They don’t date, look, go out or in any way make an effort to attract men.
It’s pretty easy to understand how this happens. Whether we have been priorly married or not, or had children or not, time has a way of insulating us against the invasion of outside influence. We get comfortable; content in our habits and less able (willing?) to see the advantage of the new.
That’s what’s commonly called a rut. Meeting someone with intent to couple is all about acknowledging our own incompleteness, a bittersweet truth if ever there was one. Singlehood, if chosen deliberately, is about reinforcing the notion that we don’t need another to fill in the missing parts of us.
No question about it, relationships are work. They require us to change, and they also require us to process new ways of thinking and doing things. You’d think that we’d want to always have someone with whom to explore life, but that is often uncomfortable in the short-term, even if rewarding in the long.
Whether from fatigue, exasperation, boredom or sheer lack of engagement, the intellectual progression is easy enough. What’s more difficult is silencing the inner voice. Yes, we can live alone and surround ourselves with family and friends, but the specialness of being with someone drives much of our lives. Blocking that part of ourselves sounds horrid.
The question remains: Is a life lived without coupling as good as one lived in couplehood? Furthermore, can we just block out the possibility of finding someone and call it good?
There is no unhappiness like the despair of choosing the wrong person.
This kind of gut-emptying unhappiness grows like bacteria in a petri dish set on a hospital window-ledge – everything we touch aligns to force the fact of our poor decision squarely in our face. It’s brutal. There’s no escaping the self-recrimination, and every other kind of recrimination too.
Why did we find that person worthy of our energy? Why did we overlook the glaring shortcomings? What the HECK was I doing ignoring all the telltale signs of incompatibility? Why did I donate my heart only to be reward with heartache?
Fear not, you aren’t the first. (Like that’s any kind of salve.) Be comforted by this; that you aren’t the relationship pro you thought you were, and amateurs always make mistakes. Beginners’ luck is fun, but nothing beats acquiring a few skills and some knowledge.