Like it or not, who we end up spending our lives with says so much about who we are.
It reflects our tastes, values, expectations, and outlook on life. If the relationship lasts it probably did so because you compliment your partner and don’t complicate their lives. It’s an unspoken, mutually understood, often camouflaged form of communication that works very well and has for years. It was probably based on trial and error and triumph and failure and the enduring commitment to another human being.
Over the years, I’ve always been curious about relationships. It started in high school with my first girlfriend then stumbled on to college with my second love and finally hit some kind of stride after graduation and a little more maturity.
I’ve always been attracted toward women who fit several criteria. Even back in high school, the standard was set and I’ve never deviated from it. They had to be attractive although I’ll admit that was probably more a hormonal reaction than anything else. They had to be pleasant to be around. ‘Comfortable’ is a word I’m not embarrassed to use. Finally they had to be smart. Not just your average intelligence but way above that average mark. Why I was attracted to women much smarter than myself I’ll never know. But it was real and firm and non-negotiable. A smart woman can still curl my toes any day of the week.
Recently, Sharon had one of her ever-popular social events at our home. It was semi-formal dinner and then, as is reflective of Palm Springs, games were played afterwards. I had a great opportunity to observe the couples invited. It was a mixed group; straight and gay couples alike.
As I perused our guests it was fascinating to guess how and why certain couples connected and have stayed together over the years. It was hardly an Einstein-level analysis but did, nevertheless, cause me to reflect on the interactions in front of me.
For most couples, I could find traces of similarities between the two. Most gave away one or two clues as to what it was that kept them a pair for so long.
When I first met Sharon, we were both working at a public television station in Saint Paul. I was the night time station operator and she was still in college and the evening receptionist. My first seductive words to her after a brief introduction was: ‘Want to read my scripts.’ I knew she was an English major, very smart and could correct typos like the best of them. I also sensed she would give me an honest (even if it were painful) analysis of my writing. I was right on all counts. Still am.
Yet there was something else that made her different from all the others. She was the exact opposite of me in almost every way. According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test I am an ISTJ…off the charts. Sharon is an ENFJ…off the charts. It’s become an on-going joke with our kids because we are so different in any category you can name. Yet it has worked out…rather well…for forty-five years.
If asked what does it takes for a relationship to work, I’m guessing the answers would be as varied and numerous as the persons asked. Without love and friendship in our lives, life would be pretty empty. I’ve been incredibly lucky and have had a lifetime to attest to that.