There’s no such thing as a ‘relationship problem’. A romantic relationship, and even a marriage, at its most fundamental and technical, represents the agreement of two people with common goals. Two individuals agreeing informally or formally to ‘do life’ together. But that arrangement isn’t organic; it doesn’t get sick, suffer PMS, or endure mood swings. A relationship won’t argue when you leave the toilet seat up or throw a fit for spending too much at ULTA. Relationships aren’t alive; the people in them are. So why do we insist otherwise?
Divorce should take us on a journey, one that leads us, in time, through the Valley of Introspection. Arriving there, we should begin looking at ourselves critically and asking hard questions, ‘How did I come to this?, ‘What am I learning from it all?’ ‘Where can I grow?’ Those who abandon this uncomfortable soul-searching and miss out on the lessons learned invariably bring those same bad habits and behaviors, and by consequence the same bad results, into all future relationships. We can’t fix what we don’t know – or won’t admit – is wrong. Is it any wonder second marriages fail at a higher rate than first marriages?
The pitfalls of dating as divorced parents are well documented. But how to date as a one is regularly ignored. We get so caught up in attempting to find the who, looking for the right mix of partner AND parent, that we may become drunk on romantic bliss when we find him or her, forgetting that how we should date this person is no less important.
It’s ridiculous at how little I once knew about relationships. Aside from one brief and very embarrassing sex monologue by my mother, neither she nor my dad ever talked about the art of relationships or how they make a thirty-year marriage work. They didn’t share tips on how best to argue and why it’s better not to go to bed angry; that beauty is temporary and money won’t solve any of your problems.
In the latest episode of Fatherhood Wide Open with father and blogger Adam Rust we discuss the idea; Does Fatherhood Make Us Better Men? I posed this question after reading his article in response to a Time story about couples purposefully choosing to abandon parenthood, opting instead to luxuriate in the carefree waters of a D.I.N.K. lifestyle – Dual Income No Kids.
Each of us, and by us I’m referring mostly to men, struggle with, “I’m sorry.” There’s something in our Y-chromosome that winces at the idea, like every episode of last season’s Game of Thrones; it clashes with our macho self-image and mucks with our grizzly woodland sensibilities. Real men, so we think, shouldn’t need to say, “I’m sorry!”
I’ve decided to eliminate a word from my vocabulary; up to the point, at least, I start sounding like a NYC taxi driver. It isn’t a curse word; most vulgarity, when closely observed, comes in four letter combinations, this one is only three. Its history, from what scholars can tell, dates back to the 10th century, and while its matured into several grammatical uses over the centuries, for the purpose of this discussion, its conjunction form is where I’m most concerned.