Sunday, February 25, 2007

More on People and Love and Life

I've been thinking about what Kwachie said below...

I think people are generally inclined to want to define other people neatly into some catagory that means something to them. We are variously described as smart, funny, angry, brave, controlling, compassionate, silly, insightful, nerdy, etc.

But the truth is that we're all of that, and more. When people try to define us according to their rigid definitions, they're bound to be disappointed or angry or fearful when we won't stay in the box they've drawn for us, and instead prove to be complex and multifaceted people.

The people who are most committed to us remaining in the framework they use to define us are the people who tend to be most upset when we show ourselves to be more than that. They're inclined to accuse us of "changing" if we insist on showing more of ourselves than the aspect they've chosen to see. Alternately, those who ultimately stay with us, either as friends or partners, are the people who are willing to let us be our whole selves and not demand that we stay in the box.

The way Lori and I hve been most successful in our relationship is in allowing each other to be three dimensional people, finding the strengths in each other's quirks, and acknowledging and then letting go of the stuff that doesn't move the relationship forward. I'm not sure if that's a function of maturity, or of finding someone who's style is a good fit, but it reinforces the staircase metaphor for me.

The staircase metaphor, for those of you who don't know, is related to my opinion that relationships aren't static...they're always evolving. Assume that every relationship starts out at the middle of a flight of stairs; every time that relationship faces a challenge, it moves up or down a step. If the challenges give us an opportunity to come together and face them and strengthen the bond, we move up a step. If they cause a rift...a "gotcha" moment, or an opportunity to assign blame or emotional's a step down.

If every challenge results in disappointment or recrimination or blame, the relationship descends those stairs until it becomes effortless for one or the other person to just step off and walk away.

One of the best relationships I've ever seen was my ex-husband's parents. Their troubles were their troubles...not his or hers. They faced difficulty as a team. Since no one is privy to the inner working of other people's relationships, I'm sure they faced obstacles that I'm unaware of, but they rallied and supported each other.

He died last week, after 55 years of marriage. I admired their deep and unswerving love for each other and their commitment to their marriage. I can only hope that when Lori and I die, our kids will look back at us the same way, as role models for their good relationships.

Now if we could just get married...


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