The One Thing

I don’t believe a marriage is about meeting halfway. It’s not about 50/50. To me, it’s always been 100/100. If both parties give 100% as often as they can, there’s a chance things might work out. Marriage is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

So is parenting.


One of the things Jake and I started doing a long time ago is following this “one thing” rule. The deal was that I tell him the one thing that matters to me most. The one area where I really really need him to give 150% and do/give what I need. And then for all the other things, I would work very hard to just let them go or work with him through them. Same for him. He got his one thing. This is not to say we don’t have many things we’d both like and that we don’t try to make each other happy in all areas. But this is just to say, if all fails and you feel tired and worn out just remember the one thing. And it also means that for as long as he’s making a genuine effort on the one thing, he’s working on our marriage and I can let the other things go. Because he can’t do it all, all the time. (Same goes for me, of course.)

Over the years the “one thing” has sometimes changed and sometimes stayed steady. But I always keep mine in mind. When I am annoyed cause he’s leaving the dishes on the counter, I’ll remind myself of my one thing and that the dishes don’t matter. Nothing matters. At least not as much as the one thing. And like the bare essentials I mentioned earlier this week, this is my one essential thing. And I keep it close to my heart and soul so I can keep all else in perspective and when life with kids and jobs and homes and cars and all the crap you need to deal with on a daily basis makes you grouchy and unable to keep things in perspective, I have my one thing.

I was thinking today that it’s a good idea to apply that to parenting, too. Just like with Jake, I get to have the one thing I need from my kids and the one thing they need from me. Nathaniel is still a bit too young to vocalize but I talked about this with David a while back and his one thing for now is being “fair,” it matters to him that I am fair across the two boys and in general. And he knows that my one thing is “honesty.” That he tells me the truth no matter what. I know this will change over time, and I will have the conversation with him regularly to make sure we keep up with changes in our lives. And when Nathaniel is older, he gets to have his one thing, too.

I also think it’s good to have the one thing for your own self and your expectations of the kind of parent you hope to be. I can beat myself up about all of the areas where I drop the ball for my kids. Between a fulltime job, schools, personal goals, marriage and many other things, it’s not realistic to think I will ever be the perfect mom (not that such a thing exists anyway.) I will drop the ball all the time. But if I have the one thing that I know I want to always have present, I can do the same thing I do in my marriage. I can hold that close and forgive myself on all others. (Or at least be kinder to myself.)

I decided today that my one thing will be “being home base.” I want my kids to know that I am always there for them no matter what. They can come to me with anything and I will not judge them and I will love them and accept them the way they are. I might scold/punish them for doing something wrong or dishonest. I might get upset. But I will never stop loving them and always be listening with an open mind. Giving them the benefit of the doubt and the gift of truly listening.

That’s the kind of mom I want to be.

So the rest I’m gonna let go. (or at least not grip so tightly) If I can accomplish this one thing. If I can truly have them see that I am there for them and that I am their one person in the world no matter what, well then I don’t care about what vegetables they won’t eat. I don’t care about not wearing the jacket when it’s cold. I don’t care about so many little things that drive me insane today. The play dates I don’t setup. The classes he’s not taking. The lunches that are imperfect. So many little things where I beat myself up. What matters is that when he needs me he knows he can come to me. Always.

That’s the one thing.

Everyday I succeed in prioritizing that, I am willing to let the others go.

Ps: After this post, I will be turning email notifications off for a while. Just to test some things out. Don’t worry, if you get this one, you’re still on the list when I turn them back on. I apologize for the inconvenience. If it helps, I post generally once around 7-8am daily and then once more around 4-6pm M-Th.

Learning to Grow

This past weekend Jake went down to San Diego for a meeting. He sits on the board of a nonprofit down there and they had all-day meetings on Saturday. He drove down on Friday and spent the night at a good friend’s house. On Saturday morning, he called me on the way to the meetings and told me that our car had been broken into and two, relatively inexpensive, pieces of equipment were stolen. But of course the window was smashed and needed to be replaced.

My first instinct was to freak out.

My second instinct was to take control and tell him exactly what he needed to do.

My third instinct was to yell at him for leaving the car and going to the meeting anyway.

Thankfully, I did none of the above. I looked over at my kids as a reminder to myself that they were safe and sound. I told my husband, who also was obviously safe and sound, that I loved him and that I was sorry he had to go through this. And then I let him go.

I will admit that a little while later, I felt my anxiety increase. I called him back and asked him if they wouldn’t steal the car now that it had no window. I also told him I thought it was bad that he left to go to the meeting anyway. He was in the car with the woman who started the nonprofit and I could tell he was uncomfortable. I stopped myself and told him he was lucky his friend (with whom he’d stayed the night before) was helping him and to just keep me posted.

I then texted him once and then texted again apologizing and telling him that I was just worried and sad for him. I told him I loved him and hoped that it would work out.

After that, I opened my notebook and journaled for a whole page. I reminded myself to have faith in my husband and that things would get fixed even if I wasn’t the one to fix them. That’s the thing with type-a fixer people like me. We think our way is the only way things will get done.

And it’s not true.

Things can get done many ways. Things often do work out in the end. And if people like me don’t step in and take charge, other people step up and get it done. I reminded myself that I trusted and loved my husband and I truly had faith in him. And I really did feel really sad that he had to go through this alone when he was away. I wrote and wrote until I felt the rage and the worry leave my body.

I decided I was far away and couldn’t fix it personally. So, instead, I would just let it go and have faith things would work out.

And, of course, they did.

My husband’s friend helped him and he had a brand new window before he got back from his meetings. Then, his other friend helped him vacuum out the car so all the glass was out and the car was dry. So before Jake had to drive back North, the car was almost as good as new with relatively minimal loss and aggravation.

I realized that this was the perfect example of how everything that happens to you in life gives you an opportunity to learn and grow. I am grateful that it happened while I wasn’t there so I was forced to take a step back and work on myself and how I handle these situations. I am hoping that I can remember this next time something happens. Not that I hope anything happens but, you know, life always has ups and downs.

If nothing else, it was an exercise in learning to grow.

Enjoying Life as it Happens

Now that my schedule is sort of back to normal (even if temporarily) I’ve been trying to catch up on all the reading, blogs, links, etc. that have accumulated. I saw this article on 7 Ways to Change Your Life in 7 Days. I will admit that I usually do not like articles like these. I am not entirely sure why. I do read them and often they are valuable or interesting but they just feel like snippets to me. This is all good stuff but I won’t be able to do it in 7 days. Each of these things is hard and requires a change in attitude and frame of mind. I guess what I mind is how easy the article makes it seem. So then, when I can’t actually change my life in 7 days, I feel like a failure.

Anyway. Not even the point of my post.

The part that resonated the most with me was this quote:

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact, we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

I think of this often. Since I am a schedule based person and I multi-task often, I find myself disengaged more frequently than I’d like. I also find that just by changing my perspective I can actually enjoy life more.

For example, we live relatively close to a train station. On the way to David’s school each morning, I cross the tracks. Sometimes, I have to stop because a train is coming. Ordinarily, this would annoy me. Sitting there, waiting for the train to pass is taking precious minutes away from my life. Minutes I won’t get back.

But here’s the thing: Nathaniel loves the train. As we get close to the tracks, he always watches for the warning lights and if they are on he will exclaim with joy. “Choo choo” he will yell. And just in case we weren’t clear he will name each of us and do it again. “Mommy, Choo choo. Didi choo choo!” he’ll say. His excitement is intoxicating.

So now when I get close to the tracks, I find myself hoping for the train to come. I know it will bring joy to my boy and it’s infectious. The funny thing is, even when Nathaniel is not in the car, seeing the train pass will make me think of his happy cheering and I will smile. He has completely transformed this particular experience for me.

While doing the dishes might be an inapplicable example for me, I have been thinking more and more about paying attention, being present, changing perspective. Enjoying life as it happens, regardless of whether I have control or not. (Because more often than not, I don’t.)

Especially when it comes to my family. Letting myself bask in their small joys. Sharing tiny and huge moments of laughter. Taking the time to listen. To kiss a boo-boo. To give a hug. To not feel like my time is too precious for the ones I love. For the ones who bring me the most joy in life.

I’ve been thinking about all this. Every moment of every day is really what life is about. Enjoying this very moment as it happens is what life is all about. Enjoying the train. Enjoying the dishes. Enjoying the small moments.

Because there are a lot more of those than the big ones.

Learn Create and Connect

I’ve started reading Karen’s blog a little over a year ago. I don’t remember how I found it. Some of the other blogs I read linked to it, I’m sure, and once I landed there, I stayed. Karen’s voice speaks to me and I often enjoy her images and her thoughts. I bought her book last Christmas and absolutely loved it.

When she announced that she was going to teach a 5-week course on creating your own beautifully different life. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to sign up. I feel like I like my life as it is right now. I am not saying it’s perfect or even my ideal but I feel content right now and I’ve taken a few courses in the last few years on similar areas which left me a bit jaded in these types of courses. I don’t have big dreams right now. I feel like I’ve come a long distance and I am on sort of a pause where I am just trying to enjoy where I am instead of aiming for other places.


But I like Karen. I like her way of approaching things. Her point of view. And I like taking classes. I really like taking classes. So I signed up. I couldn’t help myself. As soon as I paid for it, I was flooded with hesitation. Did I really want to take this class? Was it worth it? What was I looking for?

The questions went on and on but, alas, it was too late. I’d signed up. So I just patiently waited until the lessons started coming. The first week was last week and the focus was on “introspection” which is something I love so I was looking forward to it.

One of the first things Karen had us do is the process she outlines in this blog post. She had us make a list of everything we love to do. Everything. I must admit this was already hard for me. I thought it was a bit odd. And didn’t see the point.

But I am a good student, so I did my homework. I wrote four pages of things I loved (in retrospect I didn’t read carefully and wrote some things I loved (not doing but just things like chocolate.) and I think it would have been better for me to make sure they were all actions.) and I still didn’t see the point.

Then she made us write why we loved them. This is where the magic begins. I put off this assignment for a bit cause it came on a day when I was deliriously busy and I wanted to be able to take my time. When I finally sat to do it, I quickly got amazed. There were certain things on the list that I’d loved to do forever, like reading, so I hadn’t thought a lot about why I loved it. So I took a long time thinking about it.

The interesting thing is that I’ve loved reading ever since I learned to read. As a little girl, it was my way of escaping a world where I felt like I didn’t belong. As I grew older, it was a way to learn and practice a language that wasn’t my mother tongue. And then it was about the stories. And then the people. Now it’s about seeing how other people see the world. Learning about different worlds, people, ways of looking at things. So the activity is the same, reading, but the “why” of my love for it has changed over time and it was great to step back and think about it.

Just like thinking about why I like to blog, why I like to knit, take photos, etc. I was especially stumped at some of the nature-related items on my list. I love sinking my toes in the sand. I love feeling the waves wash over my legs. I love to watch the sun set or come up. I love taking a walk in the woods. I love watching the ocean. I kept thinking about why I love these things. Nature makes me feel calm, content, peaceful. I feel awed by it. I don’t just like nature, I like immenseness of it. I love the super-tall red wood trees; I love the endless ocean. I love feeling small and feeling like my problems are insignificant in the grand scheme of our world. (I made a piece of art about this many years ago.) So I kept thinking why did I love nature. And I finally decided it was because I love the feeling of being connected to something bigger than I am. Same reason I love volunteering or teaching. Diving.

After we’re done filling the why’s, Karen asks us to look for patterns. I’m a computer programmer; I like patterns. I love looking for patterns. The idea was to come up with verbs that might define the kinds of things that light you up. As with most pithy things, it seems so simple in retrospect, my words came out to be: learn, create, connect.

These words shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who reads my blog.

I was so fascinated by this that I asked Jake to make a list, too, and since it was my birthday yesterday, he indulged me. My goal was to see what things might come up in both of our lists. Even if he and I loved it for different things, it would be great to see what we both loved to do.

What came out was even more fascinating to me. Jake and I had similar things of course. And we even shared some of the same words. But it was in different ways.

For example, he and I both love learning. But we go about it so differently. I love to learn by watching others do it, taking classes, reading books, etc. He loves to learn by reading/listening and then thinking about it deeply so he can understand it from the ground up. He likes to learn by building, experimenting, tinkering, trying. By doing. So by the end, he generally has a much deeper understanding of things than I do. I generally learn a bit and then do, do, do. I might not fully know what I am doing. But a few months down the line, I will. I learn by doing, too, but not the way he does. This is the kind of stuff that fascinates me. Knowing how I work. Knowing how others work. Seeing the subtle differences. Acknowledging them and paying attention to them.

I think paying attention to these details is what makes relationships work better. The awareness allows us to make room for the possibility and understanding that others don’t work the way we do. And our way is no more right than theirs. So we can respect that they work their way.

Sorry, I know this is long. But I have so much more I want to write. About how knowing these words has already helped me a tremendous amount and I haven’t even finished going through my whole love list yet. I might even do the whole thing over and make sure to focus on verbs. But I still feel pretty confident that some form of learn, create and connect will end up being my words. And I have specific examples of what kind of learning, creating and connecting I like to do.

And knowing them allows me to seek more opportunities doing all three of these things. (Which was Karen’s point, of course.)

Sorry if this is all rambling a bit. I wanted to get some of my thoughts down before weeks pass and I forget. Part of the connecting (which for me is also sharing and connecting with my own inner thoughts, hence writing them here.)

All this from the first week of a class I wasn’t even sure I wanted to take.

Not bad, eh?

Demonstrating Love

As you already know, I’ve been taking Stephanie Lee’s class Shifting Ground. This class has been amazing. Which does not surprise me one tiny bit. Her previous class which I took in 2009 was also amazing. She has an incredible way with words. She is able to put my feelings, thoughts, worries into succinct and eloquent words. On Monday, she posted a long entry about the importance of regular journaling. Towards the end, she had a section about how some people worry that their journals will be found and read and if they write mean things, it might hurt the reader’s feelings. Here are some of Stephanie’s words (excerpted with permission):

If the people in your lives have doubts about your relationship with them and then they catch wind of you keeping a journal that you don’t want them to read, they will WANT to read it. Not because they care about what you’ve written as much as they want to know what is real and they want to know if their fears are real. No one wants to be in relationships that are uncertain even if you have no real problem with them in particular.

When I read these words, I was immediately taken aback by how true they were. I suffer from a lot of insecurity related to my relationships with other people. Because of my personal feelings of low self-worth, I tend to always assume that people aren’t really interested in being in my life but that they’re “putting up with me” for one reason or another. I am constantly paranoid that they are in the brink of walking out or they are talking behind my back. A good twenty years ago, I had people in my life like that. But back then I was a teenager and so were they. I notice lack of integrity (especially when it comes to friendships and popularity) is quite high during those years. And yet, despite many years of solid friendships, I still find myself paranoid, insecure, and scared. I feel uncertain in so many of my relationships. And even in my marriage sometimes. Mostly because I am so used to living with the worry of being left that I can’t imagine a world where someone wants to stay with me out of choice.

Stephanie then continues to say:

Live your life as transparent as possible. Reaffirm your commitment to those you love in your actions, words, and energy. They will trust that and be less concerned with the details of how you are able to maintain it. Let your demonstration of love – both for them AND yourself – be so strong and solid that there will be no room for them to doubt that what you are writing isn’t damning to them.

And this is exactly what I asked Jake to do for me this year. To be really honest and open. To spell things out for me that might seem superbly obvious to him. To let me know that he forgives me when I mess up. To assure me that he’s choosing to stay with me. I know this must seem sad to have to do after sixteen years of being together but it’s nothing to do with him or our marriage. It’s related to my personal fears and state of mind about life. I love what Stephanie said and I know for a fact that I am not the only person out there who is insecure in this way.

I took these words to heart and decided that I wanted to be better about my relationships, too. I want to make sure I am committed to the people I love with my words, actions and energy. I want to make sure my children, my husband, my friends know without a shadow of a doubt that I am committed to them and that I love them. I want to make sure there’s no room for doubt. There’s no reason to worry. There’s nothing but the strength of our bond. (And I love that she mentions love of oneself as well. I definitely need to work on that one.)

Even if it turns out they’re not insecure like I am, I cannot imagine anything but good coming out of this vow.

Thank you, Stephanie, once again for the weight and value of your words. Here’s to strong demonstrations of love and commitment.

An Old Memory

I’ve been with Jake for almost fifteen years. We met the last few weeks of the first semester of my Junior year in college. We were friends for a short while and then started dating right before it was time for us to go to our own homes for the holidays.

Even though Jake’s flight was several hours after mine, we went to the Pittsburgh airport together and talked and talked until it was time for me to board my flight.

At the time I was a Resident Assistant and a few days before the Christmas holidays begin is finals time at Carnegie Mellon. And during finals we observe Quiet Hours in the dorms. Which means exactly what it sounds like. About a week before I left for home, I had heard blaring music from the room adjacent to mine. I walked into the room, prepared to remind them about Quiet Hours, but instead I sat on the bed and listened until the song finished. After that, I told them to turn the music down and went back to my room.

But the song stuck in my head and I managed to get a copy on tape (this was before there were mp3 players, thank you very much). Even though I knew Air Supply, I’d never heard “Making Love out of Nothing at All” before and I really loved it. In fact, I pretty much listened to it on repeat for the new few weeks.

On the day of the airport, I was still listening to it on repeat and as I boarded the plane and took my seat, I put the music on and looked out the window. That’s when I saw Jake standing by the big glass wall that looked out on the runway and waving. I thought of waving back, but I knew he couldn’t see me.

And yet he waved.

He continued to wave for the next 30 minutes. All the way until my plane pulled back and got on the runway to take off. I spent the whole time listening to the song over and over again and watching him wave at me. That might be the moment I fell in love with him.

All these years later, I still think of that day when I hear the Air Supply Song. As the band plays images of the airport appear before me. I see him waving at me. Smiling.

And I fall in love all over again.

Marriage and Commitment

I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage and commitment lately. As I’ve hinted in the last couple of weeks, we’ve been hearing a lot of bad news from friends lately. Several marriages or long-term relationships (and I mean really long term) are falling apart and the news is making us sad. This happened several years ago when we first moved to San Diego, too. At the time, four or five couples called us in a matter of two weeks to let us know about their divorce and it had put me in a similar mood that I’ve been in for the last several weeks.

Pensive. Scared. Sad.

I am not sure why this news seems to come in batches or maybe the batches are more memorable so I don’t remember the intermittent ones as much. Either way, I’ve been really sad thinking about my friends and all the years they devoted into their relationship and how it’s dissolved. Especially when there are children involved. I still remember my parents’ divorce very clearly. Even though our story ended wonderfully with my parents getting back together, I know that’s really rare and divorce is really hard on kids. (so is a bad marriage, i know.)

A few weeks ago dooce had a post about which one is harder: marriage or motherhood. Of course, they each have their own challenges and it depends on the circumstances but one of the things someone said stuck with me: it’s much easier to take your marriage for granted. You know a baby/kid needs help and care. You don’t tend to forget that often. Yet, we don’t always remember the same thing about marriage.

Marriage (or relationships) need attention and care, too. Your significant other, as a person, needs attention and the marriage itself also needs care. A lot of communication, reserved time, tenderness, forgiveness, and love. But, I think most of this gets lost in the shuffle. Between work, taking care of kids and keepping daily motions of life, we tend to forget or ignore the little moments. We let resentment build up or, even worse, we simply give up and let things rot. And then, sometimes years later, we look up and realize there’s nothing left. That’s what I am most scared of because I never want to let that happen.

Despite our bad moments, I know exactly why I chose Jake over others in the world and I know everything I love about him and all the ways in which he’s a perfect fit for my life. I don’t want neglect to wear that out. I want to be the kind of person who remembers to take care of our love and relationship just like I care for David. I know that some days I just get too lazy or too tired.

But then weeks like these come and I realize that the cost of such laziness is way too high.

More on Being Valued

Of all the things we discussed in the Managing Your Energy class the one
that resonated the most with me was about the importance of being
valued. I know I wrote about this recently but I wanted to repeat it.
For me.

Take a moment and think of each and every time you have gotten upset at
something that you can remember. Now go ahead and analyze what was going
on. I bet you that you can trace each of them to “not feeling valued” by
someone. It’s amazing how strongly the need to be valued is tied to the
core of our being. It’s why we do much of what we do. Sometimes it’s
also why we don’t do something.

It’s why we get angry at others. Why we get disappointed and hurt.
Jealous. Why we feel proud. Thrilled. Loved. All the bad feelings and
all the good are tied to feeling the lack or presence of a sense of
value. Each time I get mad or sad now, I step back to find where I felt
lack of value so I can collect myself and move on. I learn to stop
interacting with people who make me feel not valued.

And now that I realize this, I also understand why it’s so important to
recognize others. To thank them. To make them feel valued.

It changed my entire perspective of life. And weeks later, I am still
thinking about it.

Work with what you have

Back when I read Now,
Discover Your Strengths
, the one idea that stuck with me was that
working with one’s strengths is a faster road to success than fixating
on your weaknesses. Not only do I agree with that sentiment, but I also
think it applies when dealing with others.

Instead of trying to make other people different than what they are or
getting frustrated by their weaknesses, I think it’s best to concentrate
on their strengths and to work with what you have. Even in the personal
context. You get one Mom and one Dad. Learn to work with what you have,
find a way to make it work for you.

I think if we all spent our energy on optimizing our strengths, while
slowly but steadily improving our weaknesses and learned to take people
as they are and work with them, life would be considerably easier. Often
times, people disappoint us so much more because of our expectations of
them as opposed to anything they actually do.

Imagine if we stopped expecting and just took what we got.

consciously compassionate relationships

Another quote I saved from “How to be an Adult:”

In a relationship, this may mean that both parties do not choose
to use the same freedoms or limitations. For example: You feel great
pain when I form outside relationships, even though they are not
sexual. I feel no pain at all about your outside relating. To be
fair, both of us have equal latitude in this area. To be
compassionate, I give up the exercise of my right since it triggers
so much hurt in you – without asking you the same in return.
Meanwhile with compassion for me, you have committed yourself to
working in therapy on your fear and jealousy so thaat eventually i
can related to others with no consequence to you.” The “double
standard” refers to moral issues but not to consciously compassionate

I am a firm believer that relationships are never exactly 50-50.
Sometimes one person gives more and other times vice versa. This is
what keeps the balance together. This means when I’m having a
horrible day, it’s ok for me to ask for 75% and I won’t have to feel
like I am being unreasonable just like I can offer 85% on a day when
I’m great and he’s not. For me, this applies to friendships as well.

The above quote is a similar scenario in my opinion. Two people are
never exactly the same. They had different pasts, different
upbringing, carry different residual pain and frustration. People’s
past tends to affect who they become and what they view as right/
wrong. Therefore, the list of things that bother me in a relationship
and the list of things I don’t care about one way or another could be
drastically different than the one my loved one compiled over the
length of his life.

I believe it’s crucial to treat each person like they are an
individual with their own priorities, thus it’s unfair to set rules/
guidelines for a relationship that are always exactly equal. The
quotes example speaks to me perfectly. I think there are two crucial
keys to make this work.

1. You need to communicate. If you don’t tell me that
something bothers you, you can’t blame me for doing it. Over and over
again. I am not here to read your mind. I can’t do it and you
shouldn’t expect me to. Stand up for yourself, be honest and kindly
explain to me that something upsets you and maybe even try to explain
why if you can. Trust me that I will listen and I will care. I won’t
judge. There’s a reason you picked me to share your life with.

2. I need to willingly give up the exercise of my right.
Regardless of our relationship, I am a free person. I can say and do
whatever I want, anytime I want. Being in a relationship means I
exercise the right to not do many things because our relationship is
more important to me than those things. I choose not to do them, not
because you said I can’t but because I respect you and choose not to
hurt you. The choice has to be mine or it will feel like a chore and
it will soon give rise to resentment and anger: two things that can
kill a relationship quickly or slowly but definitely painfully.

I guess it can be summarized like this: “Tell me what you think and
trust me that I will do my best to respect you.”

I used to be very immature and force the people who loved me to do a
particular thing (or, often, not to do it) and it took me many
painful years but I learned that you can’t force anyone to do or be
anything. You can admit that people are different with differing
needs. You can share your fears and worries and hope like crazy that
the person you are with loves you enough to work on them with you or
is patient enough to wait it through while you’re working on them

Loving Me My Way

As promised, I will start to write about some of the points “How to
be an Adult” brings up that interested me. Here’s the first one I
want to write about:

Relationships between adults work best when each partner knows
his or her specific ways of feeling loved and tells the other about

This has been one of my pet peeves for a long time. I believe that
different people have different ways of feeling loved. Some people
like jewelry or flowers, others want hugs, and others just want to be
listened to. I don’t think there’s a right way to love someone.
Similarly, there are no wrong ways to feel loved (we’re ignoring
extreme cases of abuse etc here). For a multitude of reasons, we all
develop our own definitions of love and our own ways of looking at a
relationship and feeling loved.

I think our first instinct is to love someone the way we like to be
loved. If we like attention, then we give the other person attention.
If we like flowers, then we buy presents, etc. I don’t think there’s
any harm in this, initially when we don’t know someone very well,
it’s the best option we have. But once we’ve gotten to know our
partner somewhat. loving them the way they like to be loved gives us
two major advantages. One, it shows the other person that we’re
paying attention to their wants and needs. Two, it makes it easier
since it focuses our efforts to please that person and makes them
more effective each time.

Of course, I think there’s value in recognizing when your partner is
trying to show you how much they love you, in their own way as well.
If your partner is the kind of person who never buys flowers and he
comes home with flowers one day, this shows a significant effort and
should, of course, make you happy (unless the flowers are due to some
guilt.) But knowing the ways the other person feels loved saves so
much time and effort in a relationship. It may be hard in the
beginning to make enough attention to find the ways, but you can also
ask. I think, in an honest relationship, there’s no reason to play
guessing games. If I care about you, and about making our
relationship last, I have no trouble telling you what actions or
things make me feel loved. This way you’re not wasting your time
trying things that work on you, on me. I am happy and loved and so
are you. Why would people prefer to play guessing games instead?

There’s no award for getting there on your own. The award is for
knowing and for doing the actions that make the other person feel
loved. Sure it’s nice to know that you paid attention but it’s much
nicer to know that you’re going out of your way and your personal
understanding of how to show love, just for me. Just to make sure I
am feeling loved by you. That’s all that matters. Imagine how much
smoother a relationship would be if both parties were honest about
what would make them feel loved and if both partners actually did
these? There would be no need for guessing, assuming and worrying.

I think part of being an adult is knowing yourself and not being
afraid to share that with the people you love. Knowing what you need
and asking for it. Knowing that those who really care for you will do
their best to show it, in a way you understand.

Not Friends Anymore

Ten years ago, today, Jake and I kissed for the first time.

We’d been friends for a while but it was just that. And then it wasn’t. We laughed a lot and spent hours and hours talking until wee hours of the morning. We hung out doing nothing, playing computer games, listening to music, watching bad TV, talking with friends. Basically what you do in college. I don’t think either one of us thought it was more serious than a nice relationship.

But then I graduated and we lived together that summer in New York. Then we did the long distance thing for a year. Then we moved in together permanently. Then we did the long distance thing again when I lived in Japan. Then we got engaged and then married. Now we’re expecting a baby. All of which started with that semi-innocent kiss ten years ago.

It’s amazing to me how we never got into the relationship thinking it might be the last one we ever have. How we never really evaluated each other as potential husband/wife all those years ago and yet we managed to get a solid, lasting and wonderful marriage out of it. If I had met Jake two years ago, at 28, I would like to think that I’d still have had the wisdom to recognize that he’d make a wonderful husband and a great father, but I am not really sure. I feel like as we get older, we look at relationships more critically. We’re older and in a different place in our lives and have different needs and wants than we did at 20. Thus, when in college I might have prioritized choosing someone who is fun to be with and makes me laugh, today I might have been looking for a man who’s successful and responsible and has a long term plan. Or something like that. I think the extra level of stress and requirements that we add, make it much harder to find and keep a successful match.

Maybe I’m just thinking that cause I don’t know what I’m talking about.

What I do know is that I’ve been in the United States 12 years and have spent 10 of them with Jake. I’ve now spent a third of my life with him and I can’t wait to spend every single moment of the rest of my life with him.

I love you, Jake and thank you for being with me.

ps: This post was written on Thursday, December 2. I’ve left the text as is and will be posting it as if it’s that day. FYI.