Now, more than ever, it is important for family units to grow strong, for the sake of our children’s well being. In order to do so, we must start by protecting our unions and our extended families.
Not long ago, I wrote an essay on whether or not men and women can be friends where I discussed the dynamics of this long standing question. I weighed factors such as, each person’s current level of happiness in their private life, if either or both were in a partnership, and how the friendship came to be in the first place. My essay concluded, through much research, my own personal experiences and that of other people, that men and women can be friends only if there has never been intimacy. I long ago removed it and am I’m fighting the urge to re-post it. While in my mind it was a brilliant and juicy literary piece, it was actually a passive aggressive rant aimed squarely at the subject in which the essay was based. Since then, the subject of my previous essay and I have had a meeting of the minds. Or so I thought.
Right after I gave birth to Dylan, this girl from Michael’s past was suspiciously eager to congratulate me and expressed an interest in sending a gift. This girl was the subject of a prior essay, and you can see further here why I don’t trust her. This is despite the fact that neither Michael nor I contacted her about Dylan’s birth. I am guessing that she found out from her friendships with some of Michael’s family members, relationships that she has suddenly forged during the absence of Michael in her life. Garnering this information however she did, she then took it upon herself to contact us. Now any other female friend of Michael’s gift giving has never raised any hairs on the back of my neck, but if you had read my previous essay and have knowledge of the history of this girl to our relationship, then you would understand why my intuition went into red alert.
Anytime there is someone waiting in the wings for your relationship to not only fail, but to hop on any weakness that a couple is attempting to rectify to help make them a stronger unit, it is a very real threat to the union. There is a biblical parable about the wise man building his house on rock, and the foolish man building his house on sand. Rock symbolizing God, respect, love, honesty, integrity, and compassion, while sand symbolizes material objects, looks, and everything that is not sustainable. A crack in a foundation of rock can be filled in with some emotional and physical sweat equity, and a couple can continue to build story upon story and erect a skyscraper. Sand cannot crack at all, it only crumbles under weight. Michael and I pride ourselves on having built our relationship upon rock. This means that like any normal foundation, there will be cracks that need to be repaired as the foundation “settles”. For example, last year we took 30 days apart because we weren’t honoring what it was that we had built. Actually…I wasn’t honoring what it was that we had built and Michael patiently waited for me to get my act together.
With my 30 days of no contact, I traveled deep inside to find out what the hell was wrong with me. I discovered un-examined and un-processed baggage from a broken marriage and a few failed relationships. I found that my bitterness and my resentment for my bad choices were being projected onto Michael, and I was playing victim. End result being that we filled the crack in our foundation of rock and we became and remain better than before. We learned a lot about one another and the time was valuable despite the deep pain that I felt. We were tested and we aced it. But guess who was on the sidelines talking him out of the idea of me…you guessed it, baby gift giver. Another female attempting to interfere with what should be the quiet introspection needed to begin the work filling in those cracks is disrespectful and is a threat to the union. By her intermingling with her presence, seeking attention, dramatizing and planting doubt into a man’s head, the result is the makings of a perfect storm. A storm than can spiral wildly out of control into a divorce, custody battles, and everything else that is wrong with society. Men not as self assured as Michael can end up in a very life changing situation.
With this girl’s re-emergence, I got to thinking about the dynamics of a marriage/life partnership, and the thought process helped me see beyond my own situation. The dynamics of marriage/life partnership are so deep and profound that unless you have ever been married, built a life with someone and/or had a child with someone, you may not understand what it’s really like. Being with someone day in and day out and actually constructing a life is very different than a weekend living situation. Crafting a life together takes many deep conversations, acceptance, and compassion. It also takes arguements, and the break down of old ideals, that are a result of one helping the other to challenge their thinking. This breaking down helps to re-construct something more in the likeness of that particular couple. Many things that are un-examined within a person can surface and one is therefore at the mercy of their partner’s understanding. Sometimes it can be too much to handle and one partner needs a mental break. Sometimes a simple indulgence into a hobby is the only break that is needed, yet other times there needs to be a physical separation. When ever there is a break of any sort, a threat has the opportunity to impede on this process…if allowed.
I know a women in her 30’s who hasn’t had a long term relationship since the 9th grade, nor has she ever lived with a boyfriend. So it may be safe to say that she is unaware of the dynamics that encompass a life long union. I adore this person but she has a stance about married men that she and I have agreed to disagree about. She was always “Team Jolie” and has said that a wandering man is the women’s fault and she shouldn’t be punished if he wanders her way. I can see some of where she is coming from, you have to be a partner and your partner won’t want to look for anyone else, but there is a certain dynamic that happens in a marriage and only in a marriage that makes that statement not as simple as all of that. Something happens when you sign that dotted line where everything changes, same with a birth of a child…it is just no longer all about you. Periods of unhappiness are normal, but packing up your record collection and hauling ass is no longer an easy option. All of a sudden you feel trapped. Feeling trapped breeds panic. Panic breeds aggression, passive aggressive behavior, and resentment. Eventually all of the above will have to be faced and learned from, and it can take a person years to do. By then, the damage may already be done, especially to young children’s emotional foundation.
If a relationship is going to end, then it must end naturally with honor, without outside interference. But what about those that want to stay in their relationship? Those that will do the internal work necessary to exhaust any and all avenues for reconciliation. Everyone who has been through a challenge in their marriage that has been successful working through it, has found out that it starts with self. The quiet introspection that is needed after someone that you love has placed a mirror in front of you, therefore magnifying your flaws that are attributing to the demise of the relationship, is difficult and pride swallowing. It can open up a vulnerability like nothing ever felt before. That time should be respected. It is helping each person grow as an individual which will in turn help them grow as a couple.
In the case of the girl from the past who interfered with this process, what I did was eloquently call her on the carpet as to what I perceived her intentions to be. Of course she denied it, and she was too nice in an ass-kissy kind of way. Some women may have fallen for that and stopped there, but I was successful in keeping her talking long enough about a variety of subjects to gauge her true character and where she was actually coming from. What I found was someone who is inclined to manipulate more often than not for a variety of possible reasons that I have my own hypotheses about. I knew that I had to take a stand, and so I did. In doing so, I have confirmed that there is no subject that is off limits for Michael and I to discuss, for as long and as often as needed until there is a cooperative conclusion. This proves how adamant we are about providing a strong family unit for Dylan and to honor and respect what it is that we have built.
I didn’t want her baby gift because my instinct is telling me to question her intentions. Had she ever actually sent the gift that she was so adamant about sending, I would have written her a thank you note for the gesture, but I would have sent the package back. Maybe “RTS” scribbled in big red sharpie would have reminded her of our conversation months ago. To me, the gift appears to be an entry way into our relationship and a tactic to look like she is doing a friend type thing all the while keeping her tentacles into our lives. Maybe with the intention of inciting some sort of argument among us, where she could then enter in by being that “listening ear” for Michael in his vulnerable state. Wether or not I’m reading too deep into this, accepting a gift from her would be symbolic of my acceptance of her unwanted presence.
You will never be able to stop another person from wanting your partner. In fact, you should take it as a compliment. Whenever you build a relationship that is strong and crafted out of love, trial, and error, it will get attention because unfortunately, now a days it’s rare. It will be tested and some jealous people may want it for themselves. What they fail to realize is that the relationship wouldn’t be the same if they just inserted themselves into the equation. The reason the relationship is what it is can only be attributed to the dynamic that both people bring. It’s the scariest when a relationship tested and there are children involved. Might I add, anyone that does test a couple children’s foundation shines a spotlight directly on their lack of character. They lack something that would make them a whole being, and a relationship with a person that isn’t “whole” is impossible because it is the formula for co-dependency.
Our kids today need guidance and protection desperately. Wether that guidance is found in a single parent household or a multi-generational household, or from a same sex couple or from a heterosexual couple, makes absolutely no difference. We just need parents that have strong foundations in themselves, and in any partnership that they are in, or enter into. We have to show our kids what that looks like. Make no doubt about it, our kids become whomever we are. What one has to do is to be strong enough and brave enough to draw a very firm line in the ground and stand by their convictions for the sake of a healthy and strong family unit. Even if people who don’t understand the complexities of marriage think it odd, if your instinct is telling you to, stand by them regardless. Make sure your convictions are fair, mutually agreed upon within your relationship and beneficial to the future growth of your love. And just in case, make sure you always have a big red sharpie on hand.
*Special thank you to Michael for editing this post.