Monday, March 25, 2013

Quotes

I promise I haven't disappeared again. This past Saturday, a friend was in town, and we took Patrick and Lilly to the zoo in the morning. Some great one-liners happened, per usual. They're 4 1/2 now, and so very capable, social, and independent. It blows my mind to think of them a year or two years ago!

Patrick: I was thinking, when were you going to get here?!
Me: You were a bit impatient? It can be hard to wait.
Patrick: I was un-patient. There wasn't any patience in me.

Zoo worker to Lilly: That's not a manatee; that's a catfish.
(To be fair, it was dark gray and fat, so did look somewhat like a miniature manatee.)

Me, in the bathroom with the kids: You don't need to unzip your coats to go potty. [Lilly already is.] Or you can, and you can just zip it back up after.
Lilly: I can't really zip it up, so you'll have to do that after I'm done.

And the priceless moment of Patrick slipping his hand into mine and not letting go.
Now that I don't see them nearly as often, my love for those kids is coming back.
They're great kids.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Respect

When I offered the example of two girls at one's rehearsal dinner yesterday, I didn't touch on what I think is another core point of how their relationships seemed to work. I realize that I'm projecting, and I don't know either of the couples in question nearly well enough to make judgments, but what I heard was a distinct lack of respect.

Growing up, I was taught a basic dichotomy. Girls needed love, while guys needed respect. Sure, guys needed love too, and girls would appreciate respect, but the central need was different. I felt very out of place for years; while I dreamed of the magical experience of falling in love, I felt like I could survive without it. Respect, however, was my driving aim. I worked hard, I focused on being the best, all to earn the respect of my parents and those around me. What did this mean? Was I messed up, or mis-wired?

In the intervening years I've come to realize that, like with many other things, the evangelical church grossly over-simplifies matters and (incorrectly, I believe) divides them by gender. Love and respect are crucial to anyone's happiness, though in different amounts at different times. What does this have to do with relationship styles?

When I hear, "You are not going to go out and get drunk tonight," my brain translates that to something along the lines of, "I do not trust you to make your own intelligent decisions, so I'm laying down the law for you." I don't hear respect, or even honoring the other person as an individual. And it makes me shudder, quite honestly.

If a wife talks to a husband, or a boyfriend talks to a girlfriend, or any combination of supposed-equals communicates in a way that reminds me of a parent talking to a child, I have to hide a grimace. When kids are young, they need rules, and mandates, and order (though every parent has a different view on how much, etc). As they grow, these can relax, to allow the child to develop a sense of independence; as maturity happens, children gain the faculties to judge for themselves what behavior is and isn't okay for themselves and their fellow humans.

So why, often, does it seem like entering into a committed relationship takes one or both people back a few steps, to the days of someone else making their decisions? If I respect you, I will respect the choices that you make (and if I disagree with them, I will explain why, not try to prohibit them). Treating you as incapable of being an intelligent, rational human being is disrespectful on my part, and demeaning to you.

What examples have you seen of respect or lack thereof in relationships? How important is it to you? Were you taught the love is for girls, respect is for boys trope as a child, and do you agree with it?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Foundations

A conversation with V the other day enunciated what I think is the core of our relationship, and how we function. When we were at a friend's wedding a few weeks back, both the bride-to-be and another, married friend were talking at the rehearsal dinner about things they won't let their fiances/husbands do.

The bride-to-be told her fiance, who was sitting next to her, that he was absolutely not going to go out and get drunk that night; he was going to get a decent amount of sleep because his wedding was the next day. The other girl chimed in with the prohibitions she'd put on her now-husband before their ceremony, and - with an eye roll - recounted how he hadn't listened.

V and I were both blown away. At the core of our relationship, though I think it's actually been unstated until recently, is the simple idea that I do not control her, and she does not control me. We have exactly no right to tell each other what to do.

I didn't realize how revolutionary this was, until listening to these girls talk. V is technically my only relationship; I don't have a background for how other relationships go. I just know what makes sense for us, and what we've made work. And it comes down to the idea of autonomy. Just because I've promised to be with her forever doesn't mean I've promised to give up my independence.

What our arrangement (implicit as it was) comes down to is this: I cannot tell V that she can or cannot do something. I can, however, tell her how it makes me feel when she does/doesn't, and trust that her care for me will cause her to act in a way that results in my happiness.

I wouldn't tell her, "You can't go out to dinner with her tonight!"; I would say, "I know she invited you to dinner, but I've felt really lonely all day, and I'd love it if we could have some us time," or, "Could you maybe just go out for coffee and be back in an hour? I miss you and feel like I haven't seen you much lately." Yes, this runs the risk of my feelings and desires being disregarded; I hope to always have the trust in her that I do, though, which tells me she will not idly discount those emotions.

I want to make it clear that I'm not holding us up as some sort of paragon. This takes gut honesty, courage, and being very, very real, and it's far from easy - though it certainly gets easier with practice. But I think it's a more healthy way to be together, because the motivation for doing or not doing something is your desire for your partner's happiness, not a restriction placed on you.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Do you find yourself or those you interact with tending toward dictating their partner's lives? Are there horror stories of arbitrary mandates that you can turn my stomach with?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lurking

I suppose it looks like I vanished again, but I promise I didn't. V and I went out of town for our anniversary, and had an absolutely delightful time. We stayed in a real, live hotel! That always makes me feel luxurious. Plus, I got to watch Jeopardy twice. That's always a highlight of hotels. (I'm strange; I know.)

It's difficult to be back, when we know we're relocating in a few short months, and all our attention and energy is focused on that. I should do the very present problem of the dishes, but I'd much rather go through the craft room and mark things to get rid of before the move. And so on.

Also, our dear little orange fluffernutter kitty is shockingly obese. The other two are thin as rails, so I don't even know what to do with this mound of orange fur. Except try to stop her from eating. At all.

Life rolls on, toward graduation, toward moving, toward a new start. Is it possible for me to be a lurker on my own blog? I'll work on something interesting I can share.