I have decided to write some thoughts for my grandchildren over time. This is the first.
I think that I have lived long enough to share some things that I have learned in my life. As we grow and age we learn from everything we have been through. We probably learn the most from our mistakes.
As I write this only one of you is married but I want all of you to take this to heart. Love and living together is a tricky thing. We are joined to another person whose upbringing and life experiences are different from ours. They have had good and bad in their lives and some things will trigger memories that will translate into actions and reactions. The same is true of you.
The things we have been through in our lives can cause us to react in ways that don’t actually fit the current situation. It happens because that memory has left scars that hurt when exposed. Think about how hearing a certain song can take you back to the memory you have of that moment. For a brief time we are back there experiencing those feelings. Another description might be that we have recorded certain events with their feelings attached and they will pop up when triggered.
When there is a reaction to something said or done that surprises or hurts you see if you can discover what is behind it. You may be angry but let that go. If you can spend the time to discover what is underneath your significant other’s or your action you may be able to understand and accept it. This is not easy in the heat of argument or upset but it can save so much pain in the long run.
As an example, someone in pain may be negative about everything. This may not be normal for them but they can’t help it at the moment.
There will be days when you may question your love for another. This culture has taught you that love is a feeling. That is NOT TRUE. Love is a decision. Never ever forget that. That excitement that you felt when you were first together may come and go through your relationship. Time spent on your relationship can help to keep that feeling in your love….but not every day, every moment. It can come and go. That does not mean that the love is gone.
Being with someone long term is work. And it is worth it. Today people jump from one person to another looking for something that they may never find….wanting to hold on to that passion and excitement…..like cows reaching under the fence to get the grass on the other side. The problem is it will not be better forever.
Each morning you need to make the decision to love that person and then act on it. Having been married for 56 years I can tell you it is worth it.
(Obviously, there are exceptions to this. There can be truly bad relationships that need to be ended but I think today we are too quick to run away.)
For further thought this is part of the Greek’s description of long standing love:
- Pragma, or longstanding love …..described it as a mature, realistic love that is commonly found amongst long-established couples. Pragma is about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance.
The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said that we expend too much energy on “falling in love” and need to learn more how to “stand in love.” Pragma is precisely about standing in love—making an effort to give love rather than just receive it. With about a third of first marriages in the U.S. ending through divorce or separation in the first 10 years, we should surely think about bringing a serious dose of pragma into our relationships.