The young ones headed off to Georgia this morning. We had one day of peace and quiet; tomorrow we are receiving another delegation of visitors.
Hopefully it will be a pleasant visit, but we are expecting that one member of the party may not be in a very cordial mood since the “significant other” is not being allowed to accompany that person on the trip here. Aside from the space issues, we are not really up for providing chaperonage and supervision for under-the-age-of-consent horny little teenagers. Needless to say, the teenager involved is not happy with our decision. I’m pretty sure any sullenness or sulking will be successfully ignored by the mean, boring, antediluvian adults.
This afternoon, having enjoyed some quality time together, we also had a small snifter of the 25 year old Glenlivet (and yes, it is still really, really good!), Jim and I had occasion to discuss what it is about the young people around us today that makes us not totally sanguine about the possibilities that they can form a successful union. Once you get past the “Man, you are really hot” part and find out that you have things to talk about that are interesting to each other, there comes a time where you have to commit.
The commitment happens before you decide to get married, or form a partnership if you aren’t interested in having your relationship ratified by the powers that be. But what are you committing TO? You are committing to each other, and you are committing to the relationship. At some stage of the game you have to set your ego aside in favor of that common cause.
You have to let that ego go, you have to get to a point where you realize that your relationship is more important than the individual self. It is very hard for people to do this, but it is even harder for the youngsters. After all, they have just emerged from under their parent’s thumbs, they have escaped from the constaints placed upon them by their educational institution, and they just want to do what they want, without having to get permission or justify it. This phase of experiencing freedom and autonomy is all well and good, and I fully believe that it is an experience all people should have, but they need to do it alone. I don’t think it is a good idea to be running out there all ready to try your wings and discover your “self-dom” at the same time you are trying to make a relationship happen.
I sometimes think that the divorce statistics we are experiencing right now are a direct result of the fact that people don’t realize that a relationship has its own energy, energy that has to be contributed from all partners in that relationship. If one or the other is not committed to nurturing the partnership, it will eventually die. It’s like trying to grow a plant with only light or only water provided to it. The plant will die because it needs BOTH light and water. To string out the simile a ways, one person can not provide all the light and water that relationship plant needs, although they may be able to do it for a while. Eventually they will run out of one or the other, and then the relationship will fail.
My mother used to quote this little Burma Shave ad to us all the time: “You’re right, dead right, as you speed along, but you’re just as dead as if you’d been dead wrong.” This is true in right of way issues when you are driving, and I think it can be just as true in relationship issues. Sometimes, you have to decide that your commitment to being “right” in a discussion must yield to the commitment to the actual relationship.
I did not learn this easily, which is why I have one divorce under my belt. After the almost three decades that Jim and I have been together (counting the three years we lived together before our “official” state sanctioned wedding), I have finally gotten better at it. It helped to discover that even though I was passionately convinced of it, I am NOT always right. There are degrees of rightness too. Sometimes you can both be right, but there still has to be a compromise in order to proceed.
And even when you are right and you know it, sometimes the right thing to do is just shut up.
And I am fully cognizant that in a partnership, both parties must be willing to compromise and work together. There has to be give and take on both sides. Sometimes one will be tired, overworked or ill and the other one has to pick up some of the slack in the watering and providing light to the plant of the relationship. But eventually, for it all to work, you both have to nurture the relationship. It also helps if you nurture each other as well.
But you can’t tell the kids that. Oh, you can try. But. They have to learn it for themselves.