As promised the last little tid bit from “Letters to my Children”. I can’t tell you how much I have loved and appreciated having Tony in my life and on my blog. He and his family is so special to me and I pray often that the book deal comes through soon. I can’t wait to look on the shelves of Hastings to find him at arm’s length. Thank you Tony for making me apart of this venture and for sending me this letter when I thought all love was lost. You gave me the hope I needed. I have enjoyed this road of friendship we have shared and I look forward to many more mile markers..
Yeah Right! Opposites fight!
by: Tony Oliver
Don’t get me wrong…I like my hands; they are surprisingly coordinated and strong, but they are just hands. I got the utility model. Still, they kind of define for me what hands should look like…until I see your mom’s hands. We have been married for 30 years now and I still think her hands are just beautiful. They are dainty and feminine, without being fragile. They are like a painting by one of the great masters.
I’m told the reason they are so appealing to me is that they are so different than my own. Opposites attract. They are just one of the many things that made me crazy about her during our teens. I couldn’t get enough of her; all of her, her mannerisms, her features, even her way of seeing things. The very things that attracted us to each other initially were our differences.
I’ve gone through some periods where I spent a lot of time being angry and pessimistic, but my personality always veers back toward optimism. In that too, your mom couldn’t be more opposite. She makes Eeyore look like a motivational speaker. Her favorite saying is “Everything’s futile & life sucks when you’re us”. To her, each new day is just one more chance for some butt-head to come along and screw up our life. She asserts that any thinking individual should be able to look around and see all of the reasons why they should be depressed.
We couldn’t be more different.
As the newness of marriage begins to wear off, the differences that were once wonderful are no longer celebrated. In fact, they can become an irritant and even a source of condemnation. We begin to expect that the other will “mature” or “come around” and start to do and see things the same way we do. After years of waiting, when it doesn’t happen, we are tempted to conclude that the other is defective and resentment sets in.
Then, love suffers.
I could judge your mother’s cyclical incursions into the depths of despair as a foolish endeavor that never accomplishes anything and she could see my optimism as evidence that her Dad was right and that I am not getting smarter with age. But, she isn’t an office friend. She isn’t a sibling. She isn’t a boss. She is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. She is my best friend. She is the love of my life. I have come to realize that she isn’t defective because she doesn’t see things as I see them, so I shouldn’t feel the need to try to fix her. I need to love her for who she is…the person I fell in love with.
When I accept that she is different – not defective – I am not tempted to ridicule or scold her when she is down. I make it my job to be there for her; to pick her up, to bring her back from the edge; to bring a little bit of sunshine into her life—not to criticize her for being there in the first place.
When we don’t see the other as defective, even though we are significantly different, we can get back to the most simple kind of relationship; one without so many complications and irritations.
Even after all these years, we still choose each other. I’ve made the remark before, that even if we got a divorce we would probably still live together, because we truly are best friends. We would just have separate bedrooms. As bad as life might seem at times, we know it would be even worse if we had to go through life without the other. We haven’t always allowed the other to be themselves, but we are getting better about it. And, we are beginning to enjoy the differences again. We are getting beyond the age where we feel the need to change the other. We are beginning to not just accept each other, as we are, we are learning to once again find the appeal in those differences.
In your adult relationships, you will sometimes experience times that you wonder “Just what in the hell did I see in that person!” Followed shortly thereafter by “What was I thinking!” That is a sure sign that you have allowed harmful expectations to creep in; the kind of expectations that kill relationships.
When you find yourself in this position, go back and think about your love when your relationship was young. Go back and find those things that drew you together initially, those differences that you now consider defects, and re-evaluate them. Think about what you celebrated about the other. Then, to find the appeal once again…you have to stop viewing the other as defective and once again appreciate the other for their unique characteristics. If you will celebrate their strengths as well as embrace their differences, you can get your relationship back.
When your mother is complaining about crowded stores, the price of food and the utterly useless help carrying groceries, I no longer feel the need to insist that she “count her blessings”. And, for her part, she no longer feels the need to hold up one of those beautiful little digits and proclaim, “You’re lucky I’ve got two arms full of groceries