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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Staying or Going?

I've been following this book, "The Normal Bar"for weeks now. I am fascinated by relationships, enough so that my next novel, "Being Good" is about an affair.

What is "normal" for one is probably not for another. I have deal breakers that would probably make others laugh, and things that bother others might seem inconsequential to me. Such is the nature of humans.

I was reading an excerpt from the book last night and went to sleep thinking about what makes relationships work or end. I probably would have been more successful trying to crack cold fusion I suspect.

One of the gifts of divorce I have found is that I know I will never settle for, "this is as good as it gets." If it's not working, and no amount of tender loving care is making it work, I won't stay. I have raised my children, I have no reason to stay in a relationship that isn't fulfilling and happy. I'm willing to work, but if work overpowers joy - no thank you.

Life is way too short to stay when it's not working, and sadly few of us have the skills to do either well.. Especially the leaving...Here's something from my book about how hard it is to go:

             With each step it all became so much clearer to Claire. Rarely does anyone make a graceful exit from a relationship. We are ham-fisted and awkward because it’s too hard to say, “I’m not happy. I need to go.” So we do stupid things like cheat, become terrible partners and pray for the other person to do what we are too scared or weak to. We want them to end it, or, in the absence of that out, we step outside the bounds of marriage and do something we know is most likely unforgivable.

            Most people are not brave enough to actually calculate their exit, they bumble into it, often breaking things too badly to repair them. We are not a terribly sophisticated lot when it comes to things like ending a marriage. Without a conscious awareness many marriages just die of neglect and human frailty.

All the years I've spent on my own, in and out of various relationships has taught me some important things. Whether that translates into being successful in my present relationship only time will tell. but there are a few things that I think are important to remember:

Treat the person you love as kindly as you do others

Be patient. Don't say the first thing that crosses your mind. Use that self-edit button liberally

Affection goes a long way to foster closeness. If you're not kissing, hugging and having sex it's awfully hard to feel intimate and connected.

Have a sense of humor. Even in the worst of times you can find something to laugh about.

Talk to each other. It amazes me how little time some couples spend actually talking to one another.

Take time on your own to be by yourself and with friends without your partner. No one person can fulfill every part of you. Keeping your own identity brings freshness and energy to your relationship.

As I said, I would have a better chance of solving one of physics biggest conundrums than cracking what makes things work or not between people who love each other, or once did. It's probably one of the hardest things we do. I just know I refuse to let it be miserable. I'll go to the mattresses trying to make something work, but hopefully will always maintain enough sense of self to know when it's not. 


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