Monday, February 14, 2005

Deep Thoughts

Posted by Hello

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, they’re fragile.
Fragile; meaning breakable.
Not flimsy.
Not weak.
But delicate. To be handled with care.

Every single day one must treasure them.
Treat them with respect.

During those first 12 awful months on my own, I got craploads of advice. And never-ending messages of compassionate indignation meant to console me while lambasting him for leaving. One gal, an employee and friend, who had 10 years more experience at life than me, had a philosophy regarding marriage that has been tickling my brain for the past 5 years.
“I wasn’t the easiest person to live with. I know I didn’t handle the newborn stage very well. PMS could be severe. The weight thing has been an issue for awhile. I wasn’t supportive of all his sports interests. I don’t think I was a very good wife. There were times when I knew I screwed up… I certainly wasn’t perfect. In fact, especially at the end, I was clingy and whiny. No wonder he left…”

That’s what marriage is! A safe place where you can be imperfect. A haven where you can be yourself, where you don’t have to pretend or act. Where being perfect isn’t the goal – being real is. That’s what a marriage relationship is all about. Allowing each other to make mistakes, to learn, grow, feel, fall, discover, and at the end of the day… to still love each other. To encourage each other. To stand by and say, “Don’t give up, try again.” Or, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” Or, “Ouch, that really hurt. Please let’s not repeat that.” Or, “I am SO proud of you!” Or, “Are you OK? You seem upset…”

But my marriage wasn’t like that.
It didn’t feel safe. I felt I was constantly competing for his affection. On days when I won, it was good. But there were times when something/someone else got his attention, and then I was miserable.
And as much as I didn’t feel ‘unconditionally loved’, he said he didn’t feel it either.
And rather than work on it, he left.

He left.

It happens.

For years I used Mary’s comments as a cloak of comfort. She said it was OK for me to have been less than perfect in my own home. That’s what homes, marriages and families are for. They are the place to be vulnerable. Worried. Hurt. Angry. Confused. Sloppy. Tired. Excited. Proud. Boastful. Disappointed.
Those emotions are not acceptable in the classroom, workplace, gym, mall or grocery store. But ‘home’… that’s where you should be free to “be”.
And you will be loved regardless. Home is where they love you anyways.
Cause that’s what families do.

But they don’t.
Not all families love, regardless.
Loving unconditionally is tiring. Draining. Unfulfilling.

Families are made up of ordinary people with thousands of imperfections.
Families are made up of people who have a relationship with each other.

And those relationships are fragile.
They can be broken.
They are delicate and must be handled with care.
They are to be treasured.
Every single day, those family relationships (husband-wife, parent-child, sibling-sibling, child-parent) must be maintained.

Think in terms of a new 52” plasma screen high definition television. Or SLR digital camera. Or a new baby. Or a new love interest…
When it’s sparkling new, it’s easy and fun to care of. Those first months are an exciting time of discovery and exploration.
But as time wears on, and you’re comfortably familiar with all it’s options and abilities, the glow of ownership fades.
I have a 7 year old truck that needs maintenance work. Monthly. It is NOT a joy to fork over thousands of dollars that do not increase my driving pleasure.
I have a 13 year old home that needs daily attention. The joy I felt when I bought it, is not repeated every time I replace something that is broken or falling apart.
My 2 year old cell phone needs warranty work. After spending an extra $200, I do not get a phone cam or new games. Just the same old phone, costing me more money.
All my appliances need special care. And there is no fun wasting 3 afternoons finding the right burners for an old stove that won’t magically cook gourmet meals even if I spent a couple hundred dollars replacing elements and knobs.
My computer needs a good cleaning and upgrade. But even then, I still have to share it with 2 sons who download dumb games and crappy music and won’t let me get my turn til midnight.

Relationships are the same way.
Exciting. Tantilizing. Reciprocal. Pleasing. Satisfying. At the beginning.

And then they must be maintained.
All of them
None are exempt from the maintenance stage.
Husbands and wives must work on their marriages. Even when its not fun anymore.
Parents must actively pursue a close relationship with their children. Even when they do disappointing things, disobey and act like morons.

Realtionships havta be maintained against decay and safeguarded against rot. Which can be boring, time consuming and expensive. And not necessarily as exciting as getting a new one.
But the alternative is as devastating as holding a garage sale. Putting all your broken, unloved and replaced goods out on the driveway for strangers to pick through is heart-breaking.

Relationships are fragile.
They can break.

I know.
Because he left.

Happy Valentine’s Day.
Tell ‘em you love them.

Take care,

1 comment:

Christine said...

Awesome. So real. I hope a whole bunch of people read this. Was it a typo or on purpuse that you spelt Realtionships. I thought maybe the "real" in the word was meant to be.