In our writing class at the Santa Clarita Senior Center we were given a homework assignment for the week. I did wait till I was completely out of earshot before bursting into belly busting laughter. The assignment was to share any secrets we had for successful relationships. I have this one aced! Not.
I thought I knew a lot about relationships and how to make them work. My longest relationship so far is with my sister. She’s 5 years younger and we are still speaking to each other. Then there are my two adult children from my first marriage. We are still speaking to each other as well. That’s the extent of my success.
My first marriage existed for 18 years. The second for 24 years by the time the divorce was final. I’m tenacious if nothing else. I will beat that dead horse to the finish line even if it almost kills me. My kids and my sister let me know it was time to let that horse rest in peace. I’ve decided that I have no skills for marriage. My son said it was because I didn’t date much. You could count all my dates in my life on one hand without the thumb. My life partners lived across the street. I’m not kidding. I didn’t have time for dating. Getting married wasn’t on my list of things to do either but I’m a sucker for coercion. The last one got me with the health insurance for my daughter.
Both were good men and I learned a great deal by having them in my life. We were good together for a time. The hard lesson was we were each partly responsible for the dissolution of our relationship. Takes a great deal of growing up to realize it wasn’t entirely his fault. Life was so much easier when I could blame them. I wasn’t ready either time and knew it. I just didn’t hold my ground. Boundaries, what boundaries? Why do important things sometimes take so long to learn?
We didn’t learn the important lessons in our family of origin. You know that post war generation. Kids should not be seen or heard and when you are 18, pack your bags and stand on your own. So glad that’s changing … some.
So what do I know now about a successful relationship? I’m pretty sure it starts with self-respect which in turn leads to respect of others and having them treat you with respect. Respect hears fully and completely what the other person is saying. Self-respect expects to be heard. Respect is faithful and kind. Self-respect expects fidelity and kindness. It pretty much seems to start with how you are treated early on by your parents. Unfortunately, very often, they didn’t have that kind of self-respect either and you can’t give what you don’t have. Somehow, I found just enough to give my kids a slightly better chance. They buried that dead horse a lot sooner.
I’m not planning on marrying again but I am hoping to have good long term relationships with new friends once I finally have a home somewhere. It can’t be soon enough but life has its own schedule. This moving business is getting as old as I am.
I need all the help I can get on relationships. Maybe I’ll learn some new things in writing class from the others but would love to hear what you think makes a successful relationship.
A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself — to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart. ~ Leo F. Buscaglia
From my heart to yours,