I wrote about promises last time, because during and after my divorce, that was something that was bothering me a lot. I had really meant those promises, and I take my commitments very seriously. I was wondering how I could ever look someone I loved in the eye again and say those same things. I guess the truth is, you can’t. Maybe other kinds of promises are more valuable – like a promise to communicate, a promise to be honest, a promise to listen openly and lovingly.
I guess that’s what being young is about – not knowing these things, not knowing that a lifetime commitment may or may not be possible. This time around, I hope to be with someone who has life experience, who may have made the same mistakes but now understands the value of communication and honesty and flexibility.
I had an opportunity earlier this summer to try out on-line dating. It was interesting – I didn’t really meet anyone I wanted to stay with, but I did learn a lot from the conversations we had. Sometimes we would talk about this – how I would like to have a relationship where you could really talk about anything that was going on, anything you needed that you felt you weren’t getting, anything that needed to change. Often there would be this wistful look on his face, like he was thinking how great that would be but remembering just how he thought his former spouse might have reacted to that kind of honesty.
I want to be the kind of partner that always listens when there are things that need to be said, in a way that creates trust and safety. I want to be told if my partner is feeling like he can’t stay, or wants to see someone else, or has needs that aren’t being met. These are the things people find hardest to say, but are by far the most important. Why anyone thinks it will help to keep them hidden I’m not sure. Painful and difficult yes, but allowing things to be worked on and possibly resolved before something terrible happens – or allowing people to part if need be in a more positive place with each other.
So if it’s not our vows to stay together until death do us part that actually keeps us together, what is it? Here’s my list, and judging by the comments on the last post, I feel like I’m making progress toward what others have found in their own lives:
1) Honest and frequent communication, especially in the hard times
2) Creating a safe and supportive relationship that allows this kind of communication no matter what’s happening
3) Generosity, caring, and respect
4) Understanding that life brings changes and a willingness to work on change and challenges together
5) Passion for each other and for the joys of life :)
That last is my own – it might not be high on everyone’s list but it’s what keeps me looking forward to the future and enjoying the now!