Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What is Relationship?

I was trolling through my word documents, purging things I no longer need and looking for things I may have started that I want to go back and look at again. I found this. It's a letter I wrote (but never sent) to my son when he was having difficulty in a relationship. Dang, if there isn't some wonderful wisdom here, if I do say so myself. So, here are my musings on what constitutes relationship.

I know most of the time, the last thing young people want to hear advice from is parents. I know I didn’t turn to mine. My reason for writing is that I have 40 years of relationship wars behind me and have therapied up the ying yang, plus read extensively on the subject, plus thought about it a great deal, so perhaps there is some wisdom in what I want to say to you. In any case, an old Al-Anon slogan applies – take what you like and leave the rest. Hopefully some of it will help.

This is what I understand and what I’ve learned about relationships. I know it’s different for everyone, but I believe there are some universal issues that everyone faces.

No one person can meet all your needs. And at the same time, we don’t have a crystal ball to let us know whether the one we’re with is the one forever and ever. What we can do is, to the best of our ability, determine if the one we’re with meets some basic needs and criteria – things we absolutely have to have in order for the relationship to work for us – and look at things that bother us, drive us crazy, and determine if we can live with those (WITHOUT EXPECTING THE OTHER PERSON TO CHANGE THOSE THINGS). Because in my experience, people don’t change for someone else (if they do, it’s usually only temporary). People change what they want to change in themselves, if they are willing to work at it. So basically, what you see is what you get with the other person.

The things I’ve found to be the hardest issues to deal with are: money (spending vs. debting, saving, planning, budgeting;, sex (how frequent, how not); values in life; and children (whether to have, how many, how to raise, discipline, etc.). The “dating” time is the time to find out about these important issues and see how compatible you are with each other. See where you might be willing to compromise.

With all of these things, it’s so important to first be honest with yourself and then learn how to share honestly with your partner, without blaming, attacking, yelling, etc. Sometimes it might take waiting until one person is calmed down to do this.

I believe relationship, when it’s right and you are with the right person, is sanctuary. It’s who you come home to, not where you live that’s home, although creating a “home” is part of relationship. If the relationship is working, you know absolutely, without any doubt, that your partner loves you and wants you to be happy and wants what’s best for you. So if there are disagreements, the mutual goal is to find a balance that works for both. It’s a safe haven. The real world is hard. Having someone else to walk that road with makes it easier, if it’s a loving relationship.

What have you learned about relationship? Does yours serve you well, freeing you to be who you are?
It took me till I was 46 to find sanctuary with a partner. I am so very blessed. How about you?



L. Diane Wolfe said...

You nailed it - no one person can meet all your needs.
Real love is not an emotion or feeling - it's a committment. The euphoria of love wears off after two years, so there better be a solid relationship and friendship built or it all falls apart.
And that's what amazes me - so few couples are really friends.

Joanne said...

I've always said that my home now is my sanctuary. It is a place of peace, and ease, a true haven. So I like your way of seeing it, that it's not the house that creates this essence, it is the people in it. That being said, my husband and daughters are truly my sanctuary.

Mason Canyon said...

Very wise post. There is no such thing as a perfect partner, just pretty darn close. We all have faults and as long as the two can work together with those, that's great.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Words of wisdom, Karen! I love the way to think of what home is and what relationships are. And you're so right...we can't expect to change people. We just need to assess if our needs are being met.

Cyndi said...

These are excellent words of wisdom. You came by these lesson via experience. I wonder if you had sent the letter...would he have understood it and/or really heard what you were saying?

I can't help asking if he's still in that same relationship and if it worked out? I am mostly curious about that because of what you said about people changing. I agree that people rarely change for someone else, at least not permanently. However, in my own marriage, we struggled as I started to change myself and then required a complete overhaul of our marriage in order for me to remain in it. My husband was very resistant at first (who wouldn't be...I was literally re-writing the entire marital contract we had for 10 years). He eventually came to agree with me and we both changed dramatically as individuals and as husband and wife. We both still have our things that drive each other nuts, but we can live with those like you said.

I also love this letter because it gives me hope that my sons (ages 9 & 11) will want to be my friend and talk to me about their lives when they are adults. :)

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I've learned you have to be friends first. If you genuinely like the person, then that never changes. But oh yes, money and attitudes towards it can be huge hurdles.

Karen Walker said...

No, my son isn't in that relationship anymore. And I don't know if we can impart these lessons to our children. Some things we do have to learn ourselves. I know I didn't listen to my parents' advice. Sounds like you and your hubby were in agreement about changes--that's very different than wanting to change someone else. So glad you found your way together.

Marvin D Wilson said...

Well you read my memoir, "I Romanced the Stone", so you KNOW how long and valuable my relationship with my amazing wife has lasted and worked. (wink)

Enjoyed your thoughts on this very important subject. And now about halfway through YOUR memoir, I'm sooooo happy to know you've found a relationship that brings you wholeness and satisfaction. God knows you've earned and deserve it.

The Old Silly

Helen Ginger said...

You're very wise, Karen. Another thing to consider is that a relationship grows. It's not stagnant.

Straight From Hel

arlee bird said...

Karen, these are some very sage observations and good advice. I have found what you say to be true. I also think of home as a safe haven--a place where you can unload when you need to or be held if you need that. The mutuality of caring in a relationship is so important. And people can change any time so too much dependency is not good either. I had one heartbreaking divorce that I never saw coming. Then later I met my present wife. We had ups and downs, but now I think we are in a tremendously good place where we understand one another and care for each other. As we get into our senior years I think that wiil be so important.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I got lucky – I’ve been married to a great guy for 39 years, and during those years I’ve never felt I had to be anyone other than who I am.