We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.
— Benjamin Disraeli
I have this fascinating combination of an email conversation with a friend of 25 years and conversations with a co-worker and friend that has led to one of my epiphanies.
My long-time friend when I met her was married. Her marriage lasted eleven years. There was plenty of blame to go around as to why their marriage failed. Let’s just say it did. But, an unusual thing happened in the failing of their marriage. They remained friends. They maintained a connection. Years later, my friend remarried to a man I met through her.
In our email exchange, she shared that her current husband knew that she was still in a “relationship” with her former husband. That marrying her meant that he would also be asked to be a part of her former husband’s life. That they still had that connection and there was nothing he could do about it.
Fifteen years after their divorce, my friend’s former husband died of cancer. She spent the last few months of his life helping take care of him. Half of her time, in those final months, was spent at his side. During all of that time, they began to perform what she referred to as an autopsy of their marriage.
For the first time, they began to sharing their feelings from that time. She told him what she did wrong. He told her what he did wrong. She told him what she thought he did wrong. He told her what he thought she had done wrong. They had this incredibly profound conversation as his days dwindled — talking about where they were way back when, the assumptions and false beliefs they had about each other. Things they had never talked about before. It wasn’t easy. They probably ripped a few holes in each other.
But … well … wow. Why does it take somebody being on their death bed to have that kind of conversation? Why are afraid to confront our loved ones pains and fears and help them heal? Why aren’t we capable of bearing our soul to our loved ones?
Monday, I had lunch with a friend. She’s much younger than I, but she’s at a place in her life where she’s ready get married. She wants to get married. She wants to find the love of her life and be happy forever. As the days go by and that doesn’t happen, she worries more.
So, I talk to her about my theories. To me, it’s rather simple … be yourself, do the things you want to do, and you’ll find him. Just be who you are and it’ll happen. You can’t make it happen. It has to be a natural thing.
We talk, too, about what she should do once she finds that guy and her happiness. Monday, I mentioned the email exchange I had with my other friend (I think) and I talked about how there are all these things we describe as “working” on your relationship or your marriage. And I said to her, it’s not supposed to be work. If you’re with somebody where there is a real and mutual love, it’s not work. It comes naturally. If it doesn’t come naturally, well, why the hell not? Why marry somebody with whom you have to actually work at it.
No, here’s the deal. You marry somebody because you choose to. Why choose to marry somebody with whom you have to work at it? You marry the person for whom those things and feelings are effortless.
Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m an idealist and a romantic. I can’t argue that good, strong relationships do take effort. And work.
But, it should be pleasurable work … like, well, for me, making a pizza or writing a story. It’s work that you get something out of.
I told my friend that if you really love somebody and they love you, there should be something every day that’s done to show it. You can’t ever assume it (see above with my other friend). You have to show it, express it, share it, live it. I told her that every day there should be a conversation. It could last two minutes, or fifteen, or maybe sometimes for three hours. And it begins with this … what’s going on with you? No, not “how was work today?” Not “How are you?” No. No. No. It’s sitting down next to your loved on, holding on to their hand or wrapping your foot around their ankle and asking, “What’s going on with you? Tell me.” And, then being open to whatever that answer is. Share the happiness and the pain.
I came up with a different daily question this morning … what do you need from me today? You love this person, this is the person you chose to live the rest of your life with. THE ONLY PERSON FOR WHOM YOU MAKE THAT CHOICE. Who most people then spend years taking for granted. Sacrifice a little, give a bit, share the hurt, grow together. Every day. Just that little bit of you. Give it up.
Is this unreasonable? Am I totally whacked? Why is this so difficult? Why do we end so many relationships in anger and confusion? Why do we so frequently look back after somebody has left us and say, I wish I had said …? Say it now while you have the chance.
Thank you for reading my ramble … please go back to your regularly scheduled programming.