I was talking with a friend about Laura Munson’s article, from the New York Times, “Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear.” Munson’s husband told her that he didn’t love her and wanted out of the relationship, and Munson told him she didn’t believe him, then gave him time to work out the issues that were haunting him.
Reading the article, and sitting with couples in my office, I am reminded of just how much work it is to be in relationship with another adult. The falling in love part is usually easy and fun, sexual attraction can be positively intoxicating. But later, our humanity surfaces, our brokenness and our inadequacies rise like cream to the top, that’s where the nature of ”being in relationship” is called into sharp focus.
What does it mean to be in relationship with another? What does “being in relationship” look like when one of you loses a job, or has midlife crisis, when a child dies, when there is an affair, an addiction, an illness? What does your commitment to each other, and to your children, require of you?
This is what I wish we were all thinking about and talking about as Valentine’s Day approaches. Love isn’t about getting an iPad or diamonds, or taking part in the busiest day for florists, or pumping up the local restaurant economy. What does it really mean to love another person? What does that look like – not just the household management issues of dishes, cat boxes, errands, but the enacted love between two people. And how far do you go to preserve that relationship? When is it right to stay and work it out and when is it time to declare that there is no viable relationship to be saved?
I am sure Munson’s solution isn’t right for every situation, but I appreciated her willingness to share her painful experiences and the insight into being responsible for her own happiness.
You see, I’d recently committed to a non-negotiable understanding with myself. I’d committed to “The End of Suffering.” I’d finally managed to exile the voices in my head that told me my personal happiness was only as good as my outward success, rooted in things that were often outside my control. I’d seen the insanity of that equation and decided to take responsibility for my own happiness. And I mean all of it.
I’d love to have you comment here on the blog, or on the Facebook page. I am moved by this story, and I hope it stirs something in you.