Share on Tumblr Pin It Tweet “If you think marriage is going to be perfect, you’re probably still at your reception.” – Martha Bolton What is this thing about marriage and monogamy these days? It’s changing, that’s for sure. About four and a half million
“If you think marriage is going to be perfect, you’re probably still at your reception.” – Martha Bolton
What is this thing about marriage and monogamy these days? It’s changing, that’s for sure.
About four and a half million years ago hominids mated with many females, then about three and a half million years ago they found that they had shifted toward more monogamy. Our lineage never evolved to be strictly monogamous, but even in polygamous relationships men and women formed long-term bonds. The reason is an interesting one; In a bonded relationship, the father tends to stick around and help care for the offspring, and protect the mother and infant from attacks from other males, and provide protein, which led to survival and increased brain size!
How does that play out today? Well, actually in some of the same ways.
To share goals and have an individual life and accomplishment also helps.
To set realistic expectations and learn to communicate feelings is a BIG plus.
Being free and sharing, a strong passionate life is the real savior of being together and keeping love alive.
Learning how to pleasure one another and having variety and ‘surprises’ keeps the spark going.
All this takes insight and learning. This generation is doing a better job in those areas.
What they are not doing is learning about romance, waiting, and nurturing love.
First marriages usually repeat the emotional life of the parents’ marriage and most of that learning is not beneficial. To be aware and know what to look out for and what to work on is great insurance. Unfortunately, there is no school for this, the most important of roles.
Most marriages find the passion that hopefully was there to start, diminished, after about two years. After about seven years, the relationship becomes routine and uneventful, with the business of running a household, and raising children taking predominance. Then the habits set in. BORING!!!
One way to avoid this is to renew the contract, so to speak, after a period of time, and set new goals, wishes, dreams… whatever.
New projects can inject life into a dull existence and new ways of relating as people grow and develop will assist. Having joint ventures helps, as well.
Once children are out of the house the relationship is in focus and a re-evaluation should take place.
What is especially interesting these days is the large number of divorces in couples over fifty. This is a result of the changing role of women, in and out of bed, and the realization on the part of men and women that it’s now or never, to be fulfilled.
By not taking each other for granted and knowing the pitfalls people can avoid hitting a land mine. The issues that once seemed important are dwarfed by the power to love and be loved.
Sex is necessary as a part of this whole equation and both men and women have learned that, and are willing to do what it takes to achieve complete happiness in mind, heart and body.
Having a ‘yummy’ partner is the height of what this life is about. All the rest is shallow, and superficial. Yes, necessary to get the job done, and the house paid for and the kids in college, BUT without the fire, forget it!
Of course that means being vulnerable and wishing you were dead at times but well worth the struggle. Love is the highest level of humanity and NOTHING replaces it.
So, can two people stay together for a lifetime? Maybe some. Are they happy? Maybe some. Have they looked at it? Maybe some.
We learn about ourselves through intimacy and that takes courage and a risk. Not everyone is capable. That is why many marriages endure, and that’s the word, endure, because they are uneventful and habit forming.
Those that continue with passion and love are the rare and wonderful ones that are truly alive.
So, go to it, embrace it, and do whatever it takes to achieve that end. You will never be sorry!!!
“So heavy is the chain of wedlock that it needs two to carry it, and sometimes three.” – Alexander Dumas
“It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers.” - James Thurber
When it comes to this life, there is much we don’t know about and things we will never know. One way to discover anything is to ask questions and to be questioning. The most interesting people are the curious ones. The smartest, ask questions all the time. The not so smart hide that fact by not asking and showing their ignorance.
The way to discover another is to explore them and that is done through questions as well as behavior.
Life is never, ’solved.’ We have many perceptions and often they are not accurate. The way to test them is to unravel the answers.
Now, I suppose there can be too many questions and that then becomes a way of life not just a part of it. It’s the right mix that makes all the difference.
Marcel Proust did a good job.
He lived from 1871 to 1922 and was a French novelist, critic, and essayist.
His monumental work, a novel is “In Search of Time Lost” or the English translation, “Remembrance of Things Past.”
This was made into a movie.
It is a work in seven volumes with more than two thousand characters!
As a closeted homosexual, (not unusual for the times), he was one of the first to feature homosexuality openly and at length in his work.
He gave us a questionnaire that I really like and recommend couples to do it together.
Here it is:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What is your greatest fear?
Which living person do you most admire?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What is your greatest extravagance?
What is your favorite journey?
What do you consider the most over-rated virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Which living person do you most despise?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What is your greatest regret?
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Which talent would you most like to have?
What is your current state of mind?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Where would you like to live?
What is your favorite occupation?
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
What do you most value in your friends?
Who are your favorite writers?
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Who are your heroes in real life?
What are your favorite names?
How would you like to die?
There you have it. Did you discover anything new about yourself? Your partner?
I hope so.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. – Albert Einstein
“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. “ – Joseph Addison
Now happiness is not a constant state. We need unhappiness actually to know what feeling good is.
You know if you are basically happy and you can only know it if you take the time to reflect. Some people cannot do that and are like the gerbil running around on that wheel not wanting to even think about their feelings. The body however will never deny the heart and there will be signs even if the individual has not allowed themselves to explore their emotional life. Signs can be nervousness, being on edge and irritable, taking out anger on others, working all the time, fanatical exercise, eating, drinking, taking pills, and so on.
To be thoughtful and face oneself is not easy.
A study was done not too long ago that said that enjoyment and happiness decrease gradually up to age 50 then rise steadily for the next 25 years and then decline slightly at the end. So, live long enough and you may achieve it!
When the New Year rolls around we look back and it’s a good time to decide how to be happier in the next year. No, there are no magic wands and your nature and life experience will factor in BUT you can work on it.
If you are alone, you might want to think if that is really how you want to live. Some people do choose that and are not lonely. No problem. BUT, if you are not satisfied, look at why you are alone. Can you do anything about your personality, reaching out to others, getting involved in things you enjoy and meet new people, or maybe, just maybe, compromise your standards and accept others for what they are, and not what you wish them to be?
That holds true for people in relationships as well.
There is no perfect and since we are all human and struggling to survive, we are all flawed and life is a struggle.
Some have terrible problems and are emotionally crippled for life. Others are just stunted and never grow emotionally and can never fully connect with intimacy. Sad but true.
How many happy couples do you know? Not everyone is able to be basically happy. Maybe it is the nature they were born with, maybe life beat them down, or perhaps they just can’t face it. Not everyone can be happy.
Whatever the reason, I believe that if you resolve to be happier you can do it.
There are a few ways that cause people to change. One is taking the time to gain insight into yourself and your relationships, the other is through good therapy, and it should not be forever, another is through crisis that breaks up the homeostasis, and the final way is through a deep love for another.
An interesting study found that passion is ignited when we spot someone whose facial features are similar to our own.
We can love ourselves so to speak.
It is a common fact that pleasure is good for us and healthy too.
Sex has no age limit for enjoyment and it can last a lifetime. Hooray!!
It can help us overlook things we are not happy about and it feels great if performed well. That, we need education about and combining great sex with orgasmic response can be the height of happiness even though the actual time involved is usually fifteen minutes for foreplay and ten minutes for the act itself. It goes a long, long way… !!!
Many times, you will tolerate a lot of ‘junk’ as a result.
Generally, you will find that unhappy people make others unhappy and happy people are joyful and others want to be close to them.
In ending, I hope you will think about all of this and face up to the truth so that 2014 will be a happier year for you!
“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” – Erich Fromm
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs.” – Charlotte Bronte” ‘Jane Eyre’ Fill in the blank. Holidays usually bring a variety of family members together. What happens and how they behave is what this is about. In order to understand the interactions we have to first look at the history of the people involved. Grandparents may represent the origin of the family’s value system. Of course, they are from an earlier generation but they may indeed have set the stage for all that follows. If they are respected and have lived well and wisely, they are looked to and appreciated. Then there are the parents. They may be stepparents but all that really counts is the way they relate and feel and display their feelings to one another. They will tell you by their behavior what the next generation’s marriages will be like. emotionally. Watch with care how they interact. Are they affectionate, playful, sexual, kind, or all the opposite. The house into which you were born has a flavor, if you will, and you carry that forever. What you do about it is later up to you. Then there are the siblings. They remember in their being, how they felt about one another as children and that message is engraved. Often you will see them revert emotionally to those childhood patterns. Some parents don’t know how to make loving siblings. The biggest element here is whether they have emotionally separated from the parents. If not they are children forever. It is usually during the teen years that it should occur but it may be later. It can be mild or fierce but it HAS to happen. We all want parental approval but in order to be an individual or grown up, you have to forgo a lot of it at some point. Listen to the conversations and what is said. Is the talk superficial, shallow, or just intellectual? Is emotion involved? Do you talk about what really matters in your life? Few of us have learned how to be truly comfortable and secure in our skins. Few are emotionally free and can abandon themselves in the moment, and few are mainly mature, SO what do we get? We get people who are trying to impress one another, does one-upmanship, argue about big or nonsensical things, or don’t engage at all in a real sense. There are subtle mannerisms as well, that take the form of sarcasm or joking. Hear what is said and watch the body movements. Who looks into whose eyes, who is uncomfortable and who is really empathetic and caring? Water always finds its’ level, and people are only comfortable with people like themselves. For some you might as well be speaking a foreign language; they just don’t get it. Others never want to hear anyone but themselves. Others sit in judgment as a defense from looking at themselves. Then again, you may not miss what you don’t know. It takes wide-open eyes, and minds, to connect, be interested in another, and share what matters to you. Watching TV, texting, and talking on cell phones has not helped people, let alone family members to connect on emotional levels. Being able to be comfortable in this world, with all sorts of people, and many who are vastly different from you, and your background, is a real achievement. You are no longer a narrow, limited person when you master that. Just watch the people who always have fun and people enjoying themselves with that person. We are all victims of our parents as children; their values, ideas, behaviors, and relationships. The issue is to LOOK at your life and find out what makes you joyful and then work on getting it. It is hard and scary work and can take a long time. Some, maybe most, never complete the task. We have no school to go to and doing it alone is rare. And yes, you cannot and should not love everyone!!! Being whole in this sense is a process and never ends. If you read the great philosophers and writers and truly fully developed accomplished people’s lives, you will see it… always. They may have problems and yes, difficult relationships along the way, but they basically ‘get it.’ Old scars can remain but there is salve to help heal them. Covering them with bandages does not cure; it merely hides. The wound will always be reopened. To learn to love and enjoy another person, family or not, is the goal I would wish for, for all of us!! “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
Chris Fariello, PhD, LMFT
In my counseling practice, I work with many people who struggle with jealousy for a variety of reasons. It can become a major obstacle to an intimate relationship. Despite how enlightened we think we are, most of us experience jealousy. A few rare individuals never experience jealousy. I advise clients to treat jealousy as a given: assume that it will occur, and be prepared with strategies to successfully address it and minimize the damage.
Jealousy is really a bundle of emotions
We tend to think of jealousy as a single emotion, but actually it is a whole bundle of feelings that tend to get lumped together. Jealousy can manifest as anger, fear, hurt, betrayal, anxiety, agitation, sadness, paranoia, depression, loneliness, envy, feeling powerless, feeling inadequate, feeling excluded, etc. It often helps to identify what is the exact mix of feelings you experience when you feel jealous. What is the primary emotion you feel when you are jealous? Demystifying the exact components of your jealousy can be a giant step towards getting a grip on things and resolving the problem. Is it always the same for you or does the mix change from time to time depending on circumstances?
Jealousy is often based in FEAR
It is crucial to understand what jealousy is and what it is about. Jealousy is about fear– fear of the unknown and of change, fear of losing power or control in a relationship, fear of scarcity and of loss, and fear of abandonment. It is a reflection of our own insecurity about our worthiness, anxiety about being adequate as a lover, and doubts about our desirability.
For every jealous feeling there is an emotion behind the jealousy that is much more significant than the jealousy itself. Behind jealousy there is an unmet need or a deep fear that our needs will not be met. Recognizing those fears and unmet needs is the key to unmasking jealousy and taking away its power. Jealousy is just the finger pointing at the fears and needs we are afraid to face. When jealousy kicks in, it is the ancient reptilian part of our brain going into a “fight or flight” response because we feel that our very survival is threatened. When you feel jealous, ask yourself, “What is it that I am really afraid of? What do I need to make this situation safe for me?” “What is the worst thing that could happen and how likely is that to happen?”
Managing jealousy as a phobic response
Learn to accept jealousy as a normal but exaggerated response to a stressful, emotionally charged change in your life. I often use the phobia model to help clients manage jealous feelings. For instance, if someone were afraid of heights, a therapist would pinpoint exactly what situations frighten that person, and then gradually try to make those situations safe enough to tolerate. By exposing someone with a fear of heights first to a few steps and then to a ladder, and then going up an escalator, and eventually even going to the top of a hill or mountain. By gradually experiencing the situation that triggers the phobia, and by incrementally escalating that exposure, a person can slowly overcome their fears. To treat jealousy, I ask clients to pinpoint as specifically as possible exactly what is triggering jealousy for them.
Identify your jealousy triggers
When you discover exactly what triggers your jealousy, it puts things in perspective. Realizing that you are only jealous of a small piece of the overall picture makes it much more manageable. After identifying you jealousy triggers, you have two basic choices. You can “engineer the problem away” by making agreements with your partner to avoid that particular behavior or situation. Or you can use the “phobia model”, taking the risk of gradually exposing yourself to situations that trigger your jealousy in the hopes that you will learn to tolerate and eventually feel comfortable with it.
It is important to keep in mind that there is no simple and easy solution to jealousy. It usually requires trial and error to discover what works for your individual situation. And jealousy can bring up many powerful feelings and unpredictable emotions. So be gentle with yourself and your partners, and don’t expect instant changes. Try to be understanding of each persons needs and feelings. Make every effort to create a “win- win” situation for everyone by giving each person as much voice as possible in decisions and rule making. And be willing to compromise to make sure everyone’s needs are met.
“In school, you’re taught the lesson and then you’re given the test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” - Tom Bodett
There was just an article in the Sunday New York Times about sex on campus and girls who ‘hook up.’
That’s the term for having sex just for sex; without emotional involvement. That can be okay for some or for a while but what is the outcome over time?
I don’t think we know, but we have a damn good hunch.
Love includes the brain, the heart, and the body. The most powerful sex organ is the brain.
It triggers whom we are attracted to, and what our thoughts are, and become, about that person.
Many long-term relationships begin with a physical attraction that evolves into mutual appreciation, but some can also go the other way. Whatever; the feelings get into it.
Because of the changing role of women, the goal for a college education is no longer getting
the Mrs. Degree, but working hard toward a future career. As a result, many young women are opting to use their sex drive to have sex and use a guy’s body to get it!
Many reported needing to be drunk or close to it in order to perform. Great!
By senior year a study found that 4 in 10 students are still virgins or have had intercourse with one person. The study is at Online College Social Life Survey. Nearly 3 in 10 said they never had a hookup in college. However, 20 percent of women and a quarter of men said they had hooked up with 10 or more people. Great!
They found that many of the females engaged in oral sex and the males did not care to pleasure them. They also found that wealthier girls engaged in hookups more than their poorer counterparts did.
Many felt ‘raped’ afterwards when the alcohol wore off, and many had ‘reputations’ with both men and women as a result.
Many of those that engaged in hook up activity felt their lives were and would be too busy for a while for a relationship and they wanted to see if someone ‘better’ came along and they wanted to end up married to someone that was finished growing up. Not bad reasons.
My theory is that finding the person that you can really love is a more important goal than anything else, and difficult to find at any age.
A recent book, ’The End of Men’ by Hanna Rosin argues that the hook up strategy is for ambitious young women to have an enjoyable sex life while pursuing their academic and professional goals. Great!
Many of the women said the warnings not to get emotionally involved came not from the feminist culture but from their own parents. Great!
Some of the women said they never wanted marriage. Great!
Let me tell you; guys still control the scene, and most of this hook up stuff goes on at fraternity parties.
Using sex for whatever purpose needs to be understood and at college ages that’s not so easy.
Nationally women outnumber men in college enrollment by 4 to 3 and outperform them in graduation rates and advanced degrees. Men, in the minority, hold the power in the sexual arena and they prefer casual sex to long term situations. No news there.
So, what about longing, waiting and agonizing over his calling, that sweet kiss, the heart throbs, and all that goes into ROMANCE?
If you look at sex on TV you can see the fun and playfulness is missing. Pity. It ain’t sexy!
A movie, “The Look of Love” stars Steve Coogan. When asked about playing the role of the British soft-porn baron, Paul Raymond, he said he realized it was possible to see too many naked women. True, believe it or not. Direct quote, “By the end of shooting, I just wanted to go for a hike in the hills, alone.”
Ladies, invest in a vibrator. You don’t have any emotional attachment there and it works!!!
“The belief that youth is the happiest time of life is founded on a fallacy. The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts, and we grow happier as we grow older.” - William Lyon Phelps
“You never realize death until you realize love” – Katherine Butler Hathaway
We all accumulate, as the late George Carlin said, ”stuff.”
Now some of us have money, property, and or, lots of stuff.
What happens to it at the end? There are no pockets in shrouds, the saying goes.
Hopefully, we have enjoyed the gathering of it all and hopefully we have enjoyed the fruits of our labors.
Most in the end leave everything to the last spouse whether there was love or not. Most leave it then to the ‘ungrateful’ children and the even more ‘ungrateful’ grandchildren. They don’t mean to be that way but many in this generation were given to and learned that was their due. Often you see wealthy parents living rather conservative lives based on their upbringing while their children live it up. Foolish people!
So, let’s look at a few Wills of some famous people.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a most thoughtful woman and her Will shows it. She left the bulk of her large estate to her two children but she also bequeathed many personal items and money to a variety of family, friends, and employees. Her money came from both John Kennedy and more from Onassis when she and Bobby Kennedy fought for it from his daughter.
Caroline and John sold most of her memorabilia at Sotheby’s for close to thirty-five million dollars! Taxes took a big chunk of their money.
Joan Crawford was made famous by one of her adopted daughters, Christina, who wrote the book, “Mommie Dearest.”
She had four marriages and four adopted children: Cathy, Cynthia, Christina, and Christopher.
She lived to her late seventies and wrote that she was leaving trust funds of about $77,000 each to her two daughters but nothing to Christina and Christopher, “for reasons which are well known to them.” How cruel.
The book and movie however made Christina quite wealthy. Retribution. You never win a battle with a child.
Crawford, interestingly, left money to about six charities. Wanted to look good, I suppose.
Henry Fonda was another loving parent leaving nothing to his son Peter or daughter Jane.
He left everything to his fifth wife and adopted daughter Amy, from his third marriage.
He wrote in his three page will, ”I have made no provision in this Will for Jane or Peter, or for their families, solely because in my opinion they are financially independent, and my decision is not in any sense a measure of my deep affection for them.” Right! That leaves a sour taste in your mouth for life. But you can’t let it.
It is also a delicate business if one child is better off than another. My own rule of thumb is it should always be equal, as we never know what life will bring.
Not everyone agrees with that.
Frank Sinatra left a very long will and left most of what he had to his fourth wife Barbara who was married to him for twenty-two years, when he died at age 82. His three children were from his first marriage.
He was also generous to many friends and employees.
George Washington died one of the nation’s wealthiest men.
His Will frees his many slaves and leaves his estate to his wife Martha. She had two children from a previous marriage. He wrote his thirty page Will by hand.
John Kennedy wrote that his Will was written, “mindful of the uncertainty of life.” Prophetic. He had a charitable foundation named for his deceased elder brother. His Will was written before he had children and never updated, interestingly, even after he was elected president.
Andy Warhol left an estate in excess of 500 million dollars. He left a small sum to two brothers but the bulk in a foundation managed by a friend, Frederick Hughes. Shortly before he died, he made a videotape and stated, “Death means a lot of money, honey.”
Albert Einstein, died in his sleep at 76.From his first marriage he had two sons and then he married a second cousin, who stayed with him until his death. She was a widow with two daughters.
He, however, had a “secretary-housekeeper” named Helen Dukas who was the top priority in his Will. His brain was kept for scientific study.
A genius and a lover!
John Jacob Astor IV, one of the richest men in America in the early 1900’s, had a fortune of about 200 million.
On the Titanic, he made sure all the women and children were put in lifeboats before himself.
As his pregnant wife left the sinking ship he lit a cigarette and said, “Good-bye, dearie. I’ll see you later.” He never did. Class will tell!!
There you have it. We all end up the same… dead!
“Few men ever drop dead from overwork, but many quietly curl up and die because of under satisfaction.” - Sidney J. Harris
“We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, never so forlornly unhappy as when we have lost our love- object or its love.” - Sigmund Freud
We all know that to love and be loved is the ‘It’ of life, but to first find it and then to maintain it is never an easy task.
The finding it is now in a whole new sphere; the internet, cougar night in Silicon Valley and new sexual interest drugs for women. Whole new world… some good, some not so good.
Many people are experiencing the joylessness of sex as a result of the instant hopping into bed.
Looking just at sex on TV shows, the manner in which we are engaging with one another in this arena is without emotion. Sex has been relegated to a transactional , utilitarian obsession.
Anything goes, and it is there in living color for all to observe. Michael Douglas saying his throat cancer was a result of cunnilingus was another example of what would never have been disclosed just a short time ago.
Sexual voyeurism is rampant in many forms. In some cases, it may enhance the viewer’s desire or give them a new idea… that’s not bad; but when it desensitizes the act and there is no feeling of intimacy and caring and longing it falls short and gives a poor message.
Sex today makes me nostalgic for sex just yesterday. It should include longing and fun. Does it for you?
Today instead of looking for Mr. Right, many are settling for Mr. Right Now!
Where does this lead?
Are you saying yes instead of saying no? Does he hear, “No,” or does he hear “Maybe?”
Now sex is vital in my book, and yes, sometimes it can be just sex for sex, or without much caring over time, BUT when does that line get crossed and you are no longer able to get to “Yes” with real intimacy? It seems many have lost the art of communication. The iPhone and texting are not the same!
The other area where this gets played out is when two people disagree or have a heated argument and then it becomes who ‘makes up?’
One older guy I know says he wakes up every day and just announces, ”I’m sorry,” and that protects him all day for whatever his partner may not like that he does or says.
Most of us get bent out of shape when our emotional needs are not met. What gets you hurt?
Figure it out. It will help. We all have Achilles’ heels.
When that awful feeling bubbles up recognize it. Then deal with it.
Teach your partner what they have to do or say to get you back on track. When we say “No,” we are often looking to play cat and mouse and have our partner come to us with a hug, a flower, a poem or whatever to make it right again. Partners should hear, ”Maybe” in their heads when they hear that ”No.” It is often a call to be shown how much we are truly loved. Love is being close ‘in spite of’ not ‘because of.’ And yes saying “I’m sorry,” is important. Then talking after a while maybe with a glass of wine!
Women want to be wooed and men just want to be accepted without harassment.
So, in both realms, sex, and disagreement, “No” is not the final answer, unless you really want it to be.
Living with ups and downs, hateful feelings, and loving feelings are all part of the package.
Being grown up also means living with ambiguity. If the negative outweighs the positive that’s a horse of another color, and may be a sign of something more sinister.
We have no guarantees in this life and real love is one of the few oases we have for fabulous feelings, and sex is the physical wonderful expression of it. Use it wisely and be sure what you mean when you say, “No” and maybe just have it as a come closer message, that he has to ‘fight’ for.
“In lovers’ quarrels, the party that loves most is always most willing to acknowledge the greater fault.” - Sir Walter Scott
“Could there be anything worse”, an ailing friend once wrote compellingly to Mark Twain, “than having a toothache and an earache at the same time?” Mark Twain wrote back; “Rheumatism and St. Vitus’ Dance.”
We all feel our own pain and illness whether brief and curable or chronic or terminal and we handle it differently; each one of us.
The mere fact that we all know we don’t get out of here alive can be an unsettling idea to begin with.
When young and in good health most people don’t think about such matters, however with age things begin to happen.
While it is true that we all react differently and someone with a hangnail can be miserable while someone with terminal cancer is stoic; pain and suffering is universal for all of us at some point.
The best and worst of life is never planned!
So, if we are dealing with sickness while in a relationship the crucial questions are how long is the relationship and what are the dynamics?
If it is a fairly new relationship the illness, depending on its’ nature may drive the partner right out the door.
If it is a long standing one the pattern may continue, become exaggerated or in fact change drastically.
The roles that have been played will become the focus to observe.
The ‘sick’ one may be the one that has always and now really uses the sickness to get attention.
The strong one that becomes ill may fight the dependent role and get nastier and in fact act in ways that are detrimental to getting better. These are the people that nurses and doctors hate in the hospital.
The ‘know it all’ may become challenging and question everything recommended. The Internet has helped to foster this behavior. Sometimes for the better and often with lots of wrong information.
The severe diagnosis can sometimes force people to really change. I have seen, having worked in hospitals, some real SOB’s become ‘pussycats’ when handed a life threatening diagnosis.
Physical illness is different from mental illness but in many cases one feeds upon the other.
Crisis can force major change in some people.
So, in a really loving relationship what happens? If it is truly a caring intimate duo the relationship will only become deeper as it does with all emotional challenges.
If it has been rocky or a ‘dutiful’ one it will continue with that flavor.
If it has been without true emotional connection it may continue in name only or in some cases it can be the excuse to move on. Does Newt Gingrich or John Edwards come to mind?
Being there ‘in sickness’ is never easy for the patient and especially difficult for the people who care about them.
In many situations there are secrets about the diagnosis and while we never want to give up hope there are situations where responsible dialogue and planning should take place. Not everyone can do it.
In many cases people should be helped to end it. We are kinder to animals!
I have not spoken about the people who make themselves the ‘sick’ ones and may or may not be truly ill but like that role and play it to the hilt for life.
The really chronic illnesses can be handled in a variety of ways depending on the person. Some yield to it, others fight it, and some make the best of it and don’t become burdens to their loved ones.
So, when we promise to love’ in sickness’, do we really know what we may do? Probably not.
The real test is yet to come. Then, of course, what if WE are the one who needs the patience and love???
“Fifty percent or more of the people who go to doctors to be healed of their sickness are suffering from neuroses. Most of them can be helped, many of them cured. Many others would not under any circumstances dare to permit themselves to be cured. They live only by the grace of their symptoms.” - Karl Menninger
“Sometimes our light goes out but it is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.” - Albert Schweitzer
For a therapist like myself the greatest reward is knowing that you have helped people live better fuller, satisfying lives.
This week I had a call that was as rewarding as it gets.
Over thirty-five years ago a doctor and his wife came to me for counseling. He was mid-forties and a gentleman from the word go. She was pretty and vivacious. They had three daughters.
The marriage was exhibiting problems and they were both willing to work on them. Good start.
I saw them together, took histories of their growing up, former relationships, and the marriage.
From the start I had the feeling he was the more sensitive one and the one more capable of giving and receiving love. She seemed more shallow and self-centered and materialistic. Her ideas of happiness were superficial.
I asked to see them separately and after a month or so it became clear he was becoming more aware of what his needs were and that she could not deliver emotionally.
While we therapists can guide, and present the options and have people look at and explore and test out all areas we NEVER give an opinion as to what a client should do.
Being a mature and intelligent insightful man, he decided he wanted to end the marriage.
Now that decision is one of the bravest any person makes. Especially when there are children involved. In this case the children were in their twenties, not infants.
Making a decision to end a marriage or intense relationship takes all the courage in the world.
This is true no matter what; children, money, job, moving, family, friends and so on all make it hard or easier.
However, when the pain outweighs the pleasure and you see that this may be for the rest of your life, you should listen to your heart.
It is good if you have family to discuss the issues, or a good friend can help, and a professional will be unbiased and present the options. This decision should never be done in haste or anger but only after time and thoughtful consideration. The new life may not be what you thought it would be. Caution is the word!
Once the decision is made there is a new opportunity for a relationship that will better meet your needs. There is a line in a song that says, “As long as I know how to love I will survive.”
That is ABSOLUTELY the case. Love will find you, I promise!!!
Do not waste your life or live it without passion. It takes learning and a relationship that ends is a fine teacher if you pay attention. None of us are perfect or the best partners all the time BUT we can be the best overall for the ONE we truly love and have the desire for. It’s whose feet you want next to you in that bed every night that counts in the long run.
So back to my doctor.
He met a woman a bit older than him and they married. She had been widowed for a while and had two children. While she was a bit of a plain Jane she had what he needed.
What he called to tell me was that now, at about eighty, he had a terminal illness but he did not want to leave this earth without telling me how grateful he was for my helping him decide and giving him the confidence and hope for something better. He is married thirty years and so very happy. I had met her after they married and they were truly bound together and joyful.
His illness will be dealt with in a beautiful way as a result of the intimacy that they share.
What a lovely ending, sad in some way that it is an ending, but as we both said together, not everyone is brave to do what he did and live so lovingly for all those years. I was deeply touched.
Unhappiness and stress are the killers in this life and only love really matters in the end.
“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”-Rabindranath Tagore