Recently a young person asked me what is the secret to a long and loving relationship. I think the key ingredient is “Common Sense.” There is an old Indian proverb that says, “Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes to know what he feels.” I don’t have all of the answers, but I can tell you I will reach forty-one years of marriage with the same woman this coming December, and in those years I have learned much about her and myself as well by simply listening. Another proverb says, “Elephants have big ears and little mouths. That is to listen well and to speak less.” We are never always right, and we are seldom always wrong. We as human beings are endowed with the ability to reason things out to a satisfactory conclusion. If we truly reason things out without too much personal bias we can reach a conclusion that will be a successful and enrich us. The principal ingredient is being able to listen and realize that someone else may have a difference of opinion and if you listen to that side, you may come to understand there is validity in what the other person thinks. With that in mind, I offer to you what I believe is a successful means of compromising to another view on any argument without losing anything and perhaps, gaining in some small way. Love is the principal reason for enjoying a full life with another person. It doesn’t get any better when it is real and sincere.
L MIchael Rusin
Most of us enter into a relationship on a Braille trip. For virtually all of us it is an unknown venture where we have to find our way and learn about another person’s character as we are meandering through our state of connectedness between people. Once we have found a mate the easy part is over, and the rough times begin. Most of the time we are unsure of what to do or to say to that other person. This is normal and we should realize we are just human and cannot be guided by a script. That is only the way it works in the movies. In real life we are living it as each event unfolds and it is unrehearsed. Many times we are under stress and say or do the wrong things. There’s nothing wrong with that because we are in a learning mode.
Occasionally when we make the right decision and we say the correct thing that is a good event we didn’t screw up. None of us are perfect, but if we are true to ourselves, we will try to be compassionate at the very least, understanding of the other person and attempt to be a good listener. Some of us go an entire lifetime without taking the time to listen to other people. We have to realize that the world and all that happens on the planet doesn’t revolve around us exclusively. Other people are important too. As a consequence of our non-perfectness we realize that none of us are totally accurate and especially in the beginning stages of a budding relationship we often make mistakes, but if we try to make amends by correcting the wrongs we impose on that other most important person in our lives, our mates, we can be successful. What happens to most of us too often is we allow our pride to get in the way of a solution, and then we fail in reaching the correct answer.
We can never solve anything when we are angry. We will never conclude any problem if we are a closed book and refuse to listen to the other person’s view point. Every solution can be marked by compromise. By compromising we give away part of what we object to, but remember, we will receive just as much as we give away if we are willing to come to a solution that will leave us feeling we have at least gained something and not lost it all. If you are willing to concede that perhaps something about yourself isn’t quite right, then perhaps there could be more to you than what you have yielded. None of us are always right about everything. Oftentimes we need to step away from our ego and take a deeper look at who we are. It takes an intellectually mature person to see they are wrong about certain things and make the decision to correct what they are doing or saying to solve a problem.
When we are angry at the other person for any reason, with few exceptions, we need to remember shouting, throwing a temper tantrum, physically abusing the other person, or simply refusing to talk can lead to many unnecessary negative repercussions. The first thing you need to do is to step away from it and cool down. Second, and most important, try to see what the other person has been telling you. Third, calm down and open up a dialogue and resolve it in your mind before you begin your talk, if you will remain calm and you won’t get angry you’re going to be successful, or at least somewhat so. It’s a difficult thing to do, but if the relationship is worth reconciling then the preventative measures are certainly worth it. One way to look at it is to remember all the things that made the other person so attractive in the first place. A smile or a way they said something is usually all you need to put yourself in the proper frame of mind. That’s when you begin to talk and to compromise. That’s when you begin to heal because strife causes injury to all of us.
Many complicated reasons surface in a relationship which cause stress and arguments and sometimes they lead to terrible fights. Money problems can be one, in-law in fighting or meddling by others can be another. Surprising as it may seem, children can put stress on a family. The loss of a job, losing your house or car, an accident or a serious illness or injury can be another, as is death. Infidelity is another part of the equation that most times cannot be resolved because the loss of trust is so traumatic. You have to take it one step at a time and make an effort to solve the conflict. Everyone can’t do it successfully. However, when the love is there and there is a will to go past the cause of the problem, it is at least a start in the direction of smoothing out the bumps. Nothing ventured is nothing gained. It takes less effort to quit than it does to hang in there and work toward a solution.
You don’t know someone until you have lived with them for a while. Getting to know the other person takes some time and there are going to be annoying things about the person you have decided to make a life with. Often times you won’t like what you discover. Occasionally you will decide that although the things you don’t like are there in that other person, you at least realize you can live with those things and not allow them to break up your relationship. Only you can make that decision. Pettiness in finding another person’s faults constantly is a smallness in the critic’s mind.
Love with someone is difficult at best. Nowhere is it written that it is 50/50. It is always 20/80 or so flexible up or down, it cannot be measured. It all depends on who is looking at the problem. One side will always have a set of reasons why it is the other person’s faul,t but if you talk to the other person on the other side of the argument, you will see they have a different perspective on it as well. All relationships are based on love and mutual support. To love someone you have to respect them first. If you are in a relationship that is dependent on the other for anything other than love, respect and a willingness to accept the other’s failings, you have a problem. You cannot depend on the other person to carry the entire load of the relationship on their shoulders. It will never work because we as human beings have low thresholds of what we will maintain in terms of responsibility and for how long. When we get tired of carrying the load, we usually will refuse to go one step further. Tired can be as in “Bone Tired.” Nobody wants to think that they are burdened with all the responsibility all of the time. We all like to think that in a partnership someone else is helping with the load some of the time.
Which leads me to this observation. If you are a bully, or a drunk, a thief, or you are lazy and won’t support your other half, how can you expect them to respect or love you? Yes, they can be dependent on you but that does not engender love or respect. Most of us should have it in our minds that our relationship will be like a garden. If the garden is important to you, it will need to be weeded on a regular basis, or it will grow out of control with unwanted vegetation. So we weed it periodically. We water it and fertilize it as well. Once in awhile we have to spray to keep the unwanted critters from invading and taking our garden over, or destroying it before we have the chance of enjoying the fruits of our labor. We do these things because the garden is important to us.
Your fertilizer is the love you bring to your garden. It is also the benefit of your good deeds and support you offer to your spouse. The weeding is simple
enough, it is the hard work you put into supporting your family by working and maintaining your home and making sure all the bills are paid on time. That equates to responsibility. The watering is the self sacrifice we all have to take on ourselves occasionally because it is necessary. We don’t take that vacation this year because we can’t afford it. That means we make the attempt to manage our affairs to a satisfactory conclusion. The spraying is the friends we surround ourselves with. It can be family and it can be just friends.
If you surround yourself with losers who mooch off you, or compromise you in any way, they are not your friends. You must rid yourself of those who will cause strife in your small world. Surround yourself with winners. Women are nest builders and most of the time women want to be with a winner and they will if they can be. Be a winner. Don’t be a whiner.
If you cannot see what the other person sees in you, you should make the effort to see what you are in the eyes of others and how they see you. You may be surprised at what you’ll find out. Sometimes we are not to others as we think we are to ourselves. It’s a little like hearing your own voice that’s been recorded. As you listen you know it’s you but it doesn’t sound like you when you hear it. We are like that. We are not always what we think we are to others. That can be the root of the problem. Accept the fact you really aren’t perfect, and not everyone truly likes you. Perhaps some of the decisions you are making aren’t exactly the best solutions for you to be making and if there is a better solution, you should consider taking it. Always remember, none of us are perfect. We are all flawed in some way. Not everyone is good looking or has a great body, or are as smart as some others are, and all of us aren’t rich or are successful in all that we do. Get over it. Most of us are ordinary people who live ordinary lives and we live it until we die. Some of us accomplish great things and most of us just live our lives in quiet desperation and then our lives are over one day and we aren’t remembered anymore after awhile. If someone loves you, consider it a gift and enjoy it. One thing we all have in common is, our bodies and minds are exclusively under our control. We are in essence the Captains of our own ships. We can steer a good course or drive it up on the rocks. We all have the opportunity to steer it where we want it to go.
If you love someone, remember why you love that person. Try to control your anger because we are all going to make mistakes, break things or forget matters that should not have been forgotten, but it happens. Try to focus on what made your relationship so good initially and try to improve those small considerations that can be made better. I had tickets to see Janice Joplin in Concert when she was getting ready to break up with her band Big Brother and the Holding Company. It was the last concert they would be together and I fell asleep on the couch with the tickets in my shirt pocket.
We make mistakes. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy but after all we are only human and prone to making mistakes. Sometimes we do it with those we love. We should never hurt those we love. Love and honor are key words for not only your spouse or a friend, but with everyone you know if you care about them. If you do that you will be revered by those who care about you back. We all need each other and in some cases, we need certain individuals a lot more than we do others. Love is to be cherished and it is to be revered because, it is a gift that makes us who we want to be in the eyes of others. Always remember this, “Haters don’t really hate you, they hate themselves because you are a reflection of what they wish to be.” When you make up your mind to be a winner, there is no power on this earth that can change a made up mind. Your garden is a reflection of who you are. You can allow it to go to ruin or you can keep it neat and productive. The choice is always your own.
L Michael Rusin