Thursday, March 29, 2012
Learning to understand and love another person unconditionally is one of the challenges and joys of life. When I read in "People Magazine" about couples who believe they have found their soul mate only to see the relationship disintegrate in a few years, it makes me sad. The concept of "tending the garden" eludes them.
Early in most relationships people tend to feel less important to each other. If they talk to their partner about it, they may complain. That sets up a conflicted communication system of blame and defense which makes the problem worse.
When you feel less important to your partner, begin the dialogue with a positive statement. "I enjoy being with you. When you come home late from work, I feel lonely. I wish we could spend more time together." The partner might respond defensively, "I can't help it. You don't want me to lose my job, do you?" Then you can say, "What can we do to spend more time together?"
Awareness of prioritizing time together is essential to the growth of love in relationship.
In the past 75 percent of people who divorced remarried. It will be interesting to see if this new phenomena of "gray divorce" will change that figure. When a marriage fails, people tend to believe that what they have learned from the first marriage will help them avoid making mistakes in the next marriage.
The second time you probably will not choose a partner with the same weaknesses and strengths, but your new mate may have the opposite weaknesses. You will still have to learn how to focus on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. It boils down to learning how to live with another person in a way that will maximize both partners' strengths and minimize weaknesses. Then you have twice as many strengths together plus the fun and joy of blending your souls.
Is it possible that some people who leave long time marriages have decided it is better to be single?
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Jim and Florine honeymooned at the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley, a ritzy desert resort that charged $25 a day. That included three meals a day in their fancy dining room. A geologist friend advised them to be sure and visit Titus Canyon at sunset. They found the narrow road through Titus Canyon wound through sheer l00 foot rock walls .
"Our 59 Chevy sedan slowly navigated the dry creek bed, but not until sunset had long passed and darkness enveloped us. God was with us on this trip and we even found our way back to the Inn as the dining room was about to close."
During the summer of 1961 East Germany built the Berlin Wall and Jim was recalled to active duty with his naval aviation squadron which ended up cutting his income in half. Florine went to work as a nurse at Laguna Hospital in San Francisco to make ends meet. Their love and commitment to each other and their mutual faith in God enabled them to get through that difficult first year of marriage.
Disagreements have come up, of course. "We have found the best way to resolve them is to let Jim have the last word as long as it is, 'Whatever you say, Dear'. "In other words," laughs Jim, "we have learned that the key to an enduring marriage is for each partner to compromise."
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
"Mom, we have to sit down and talk about Dad's and your marriage." declared our 17 year old son who had just completed a semester course in sociology in high school. He began enumerating all the reasons this 19 year marriage, at that time, would not survive. He counted off that I had been raised in the city and his Dad on a farm. Jack loved sports (he would watch grass grow if it were competitive) and I was a symphony and drama person. Even our jobs were at odds. Jack, a district office director of P.E., recreation, and outdoor education and I was a high school counselor, The BIGGIE was that I had been 16 and Jack 18 when we married. "There just is not hope," he explained, "that our marriage will work."
What our son and his sociology teacher had left out of the equation was the things in our favor far out-weighed the negatives. Our parents had deep abiding love of God and attended church regularly and demonstrated loving marriages. They also had instilled in us faith. Both of us, even at that young age, knew our Lord and Savior. Of course, there are times, even after 63 years, that we sometimes wonder if this teen marriage will last.
Monday, March 12, 2012
This week we begin sharing love stories from people who have long term relationships. I will begin with the love story I know best, my own.
Everett and I met in spite of a million-to-one chance of that happening. In the spring of 1953 my girl friend and I mailed our contracts for teaching jobs in San Diego just before a midnight deadline. Neither of us had been to San Diego, so we saw it as an adventure. During our year there Everett's cousin, a Marine we met at church, introduced Everett to us when his ship docked in San Diego. I was already engaged to an Air Force guy who was in Korea.
I grew up in a California parsonage with loving authoritative parents who micromanaged me. I had one brother 16 months older than me. Everett grew up with 4 brothers and 2 sisters in Nebraska with older parents who struggled to survive the depression. His parents did very little parenting. Everett signed his own report cards. Church governed every facet of my family life. Everett's family seldom attended church.
The differences gave us lots of opportunities to learn from and about each other. Learning to become soul mates has been a life long process. Our love has been a great ride going on almost 57 years. I wrote a book, "Becoming Soul Mates--How to Create the Relationship You Always Dreamed Of" to help others learn how to become soul mates, too.
Friday, March 2, 2012
Relationship skills may come more naturally to some people than to others. Hopefully, children born to loving parents and family learn those skills from family modeling and teaching. Learning continues throughout our lifetimes. We don't run out of challenges as we meet new people through all stages of life. People who do not have the advantage of loving families will struggle harder to make a transition from victim survival skills to positive power skills.
Which relationship skills do you have? Do you use survivor skills to get what you want in relationship? Do you relate from a victim identity--helpless, hurt, defensive, put upon, always right but never understood? Or do you relate from a healthy sense of self--open to learning, owning your actions and feelings, eager to understand more about yourself and others?
To have a soul mate relationship, you must learn to move from blame and having to be right to accepting yourself, differences in others, and an eagerness to listen and learn,. That takes time especially if your survival has depended on strong survival skills.
Deep satisfying love comes in all forms. You can have a "soul mate" relationship with God, mate, friends, but it isn't magic or a lucky discovery. You create it by learning respect, acceptance, and letting go of fear of intimacy.
I hope to share some stories of love of all kinds in coming blogs. Send me your stories and if they fit I will share them.