I’ve always heard that relationships require a lot of work. It’s an unfamiliar notion, to me; a foreign concept. My relationships have been pretty easy and mostly smooth sailing. Until they weren’t. Then, they were over.
Some were dead in the water even before they started. I never believed the ‘work’ part belonged at the beginning, when it should be all fun and excitement. The hard part should come later – much later. Right?
The relationships that did survive past the hearts and flowers stage eventually died from neglect. They simply veered off course until they were in the reeds with no hope of rescue: Beyond repair, because nobody did the work.
When I stop and think – really think – about two individual people, each with his or her own tastes, habits, opinions, beliefs, quirks, dreams, triggers, secrets and histories, trying to blend it all together and share some kind of mutually satisfying life….. it boggles the mind. It seems beyond humanly possible. It’s a set-up, at the very least. You’d have to be a complete fool to even try!
And yet, we do. We keep trying until we get it right. Some are lucky enough to find it on the first attempt. Some never do. Some give up. Others settle for something somewhere in between.
I know it’s possible because I’ve witnessed it, first hand. I know that you never know everything that goes on in someone else’s relationship. There were times when I didn’t know what was happening in my own. Still, I’ve seen the real thing. My parents had it. Many of my friends have it. And, they’ll all tell you that it’s a lot of work.
I have a lot of difficulty picturing myself in their place. While I am committed to not becoming cynical, I pride myself in being a realist. The facts, as they say, are stacked against me. It’s not that I lay awake at night analyzing. Quite the contrary: I exude self-confidence and truly like who I am. Perhaps that’s part of the problem. Alone, I am complete. No missing pieces. There are no obvious needs for another person to fill. A very kind male friend recently described me as “the whole package.” Another told me that I am intimidating.
What would make life more satisfying would be someone else who is complete. We could still be total, intact individuals, but with some overlapping places. Maybe that’s where the work comes into play – Drawing the boundaries around those shared parts of our lives and then nurturing them. Keeping the common areas safe – and healthy.
Tina Turner’s voice enters my mind. “What’s love got to do with it?” Does love come first and move you to negotiate the mutual landscape? Or, do you find someone with whom you can dovetail and hope love develops?
It sounds complicated. And messy. It sounds like a lot of work. Am I up for the challenge? I’m pretty happy with my life as it stands. I worry that I won’t bend when needed. Only time will tell. But I can say this much: I didn’t come all this way to settle.