I know it sounds terribly self-serving; comparing the spouses, partners, and significant others in other people’s lives. One could easily ask oneself: Who am I to compare, analyze or otherwise scrutinize the partners other people have chosen to live with for the rest of their lives? What’s the difference between romance and the real stuff? Why do I even broach the subject?
What can I say, I have an overactive imagination. I also came across a fascinating article in a local tabloid that deals with recovery, renewal and growth. The meat of the article had to do with choosing the right partner for life, the question of who chose whom to marry and what makes a relationship work over time.
It’s one of those age-old questions that people often times ponder but seldom discuss in public. ‘How did those two individuals end up together?’ and better yet ‘what was the glue that kept them together for so long?’ One has to fast-forward any length of time to see if and how it worked out. For those who went the distance I’m always fascinated as to how and why?
In high school and college, a lot of the girls I met seemed enamored with men who had ‘to be in charge.’ They wanted the guy to tell them where they were going on a date, what they’d do afterwards with no discussion required. If those handsome young men expressed great insight into their own destiny and claimed to know exactly what their future held for them, the women practically felt their limbs go weak and hearts start racing.
I could never resolve that conundrum with those women. On one hand they claimed equal rights for just about everything…which they should have. Then these same women turned around and their hearts would go all-a-flutter for those ‘father-like-figures’ who made it very clear they were in charge. I guess for those women it was easier to defer than to challenge.
I always thought it made more sense and was more respectful to let the woman decide on options for a date. Or at least to let the two of us decide on something mutually agreeable. A lot of those women back in my tender years seemed to see that approach as weak and compromising. But it was my approach so I never changed.
Conversely, I find it fascinating that so many men I know are very uncomfortable around strong women. It’s usually masked by bravado and a higher-than-normal volume of control. But behind the façade is a man who needs to be in charge and is not used to a woman challenging him on that role.
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 which 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.
|Photo courtesy of Jerry Hoffman|
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’ was a word I wasn’t 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.
If asked, what does it takes for a relationship to work down through the generations, 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.
I recently came across some of Sharon’s old grade school papers, class records and other educational materials. From approximately second grade on, she was leading class projects, had numerous leadership roles throughout grade school and high school and was organizing fund-raising efforts (pagan babies, anyone?) before it became the fifty’s equivalent to Cabbage Patch Babies…well, sort of. Her list of accomplishments goes on well beyond college and into her academic, business, and political career.
When I first met Sharon, she was working as a nighttime receptionist, going to school fulltime, heavily involved in extra-curricular educational activities on campus and held several leadership positions. Measuring her stellar academic career to mine was no comparison at all. Comparing her outgoing charismatic personality to mine was also no comparison.
Sharon is an ENFJ; off the charts. I am an ISTJ; off the charts. So how is it that two very different people met, connected and have been happily married for over forty-five years? I thought it was because I proposed to her. Turns out, it was because she chose me. Reflecting back, it had everything to do with her choice in a future husband more than my proposal.
I’ve been lucky. For any number of reasons, not the least of which is my wife’s enduring patience, I’ve been married for fifty-two years and it’s still going strong. I married a very intelligent, people-savvy woman who continues to challenge my lifestyle and other associated idiosyncrasies. We have two totally different personalities…on the surface. But for us it works and remains part of the chemistry that has held us together for all these years.