I don't think I have the time in this post to move it outward to connections across lifetimes that involve soul mates/friends, but perhaps another post on another day. For now I'm focusing on the ones we have in our mundane day-to-day very human lives.
I have been married for 20 years which is not all that long in the grand scheme of things and yet because of the misleading way divorce stats are compiled people tend to "ooh" and "ahh" over those 20 years. (Anyone else remember when it was 50 years that got that reaction and often it was based on living that long over simply staying with the same person that long?) And I get extra fun because most people can do simple math and often the follow-up questions go like this:
How long have you been married? xx years
Do you have kids? Yes
Ahhh, how old? X (greater than married years), X (greater than married years), and X (less than married years).
This invariably gets one of two responses. Either a couple beats of silence (some people are a bit slower at math than others) and a bland canned response or an arched eyebrow after the pause and the inevitable, "Were you married before?" The second response occurs less as society changes and older folk generally are the culprits these days. When I'm feeling kind I simply reply, "yes." When I'm feeling ornery I answer in one of a variety of ways that is meant to kill the conversation immediately. And none of the answers I choose gives them the knowledge that they are seeking. This pleases me. You get that knowledge when I feel I can trust you with that knowledge. Strangers, mild acquaintances and customers - bah! No full truth for you!
(That only appeared to be a tangent.) Sometimes when the person wishes the conversation to not end right away they ask some version of , "Are you happily married?" Receiving this question always makes me want to laugh because 35 potential answers will flit through my brain as I wonder what type of answer they really expect from such a question. Of those 35, 34 of them are meant solely to make their brain explode. I most often choose the simple 35th answer, "yes" because cleaning up brains is so very time consuming and I have Things To Do!
Here's the thing - humans rarely stay in relationships where they are miserable (and for right now I'm going to allow the exception of abusive relationships because that is a tangle for another time and not the norm of which I am speaking). If someone remains in a relationship they are getting something positive out of it. That positive outweighs the negative. It is human nature to seek Love and Joy and to stay where there is such and depart where there is not. Some will stick around for a time of misery, hoping it will improve, go away, or their mate will die, but for longevity of a relationship once actual misery sets in, most people have a time limit.
So, yes, I am still with my mate, therefore you may assume that I am happy. Simple really. Then people want to know why, or how, or what is the secret (as if!) of such a thing. Again, 35 answers, most laced by my annoying frequent dry wit and again, all of them truthful, yet not the whole truth. My short answer is most often, "Because he adores me". My self-deprecating short answer, "Because he adores me and whatever insanity in him allows such a thing (because let's face it, I can be a bit *cough* intense at times), I hope it stays!" Both truth and both incomplete.
For the rest of this tiringly long post you will have to fill in the word "most" when I refer to people and their relationships because I don't want to type it anymore. Also, I am going to resort to the word mate for spouse/significant other/partner/long-term girlfriend/boyfriend/polyamorous groups because I am lazy and mate is only 4 letters.
The Secrets!! Oh, I'm sorry. There are none that you do not already know if you simply look at your other current loving long-term friendships except for probably the sex component (friends with benefits! joke here) that you have. Look to any of your current loving long-term non-romantic relationships for that matter.
First non-secret - You love each other. So simple to do when things are going well, yes? Bloody hard when they are not. How do you continue to love your friends when they mess up? You love them in spite of themselves knowing that they were indeed being the best person they could be in that moment. At times our best person actions flat out suck. Our flat out suck moments have a lifespan that is generally short-lived. You allow for this in friendships, why would you not in romantic relationships? Those who set completely different standards for human foibles between differing meaningful relationships puzzle me. If we are assuming generally healthy relationships, why is less "slack" given to the person you've romantically committed to?
Next - you must not be enamoured of the idea that any one person should fulfill all of your needs. Why people cling to this concept baffles me. We have many friends with a variety of interests whom we've befriended because we fulfill each other's needs, but none of us fulfill every need. And we do not expect that in a friend. Yet often people feel that a mate should do so. I find that to be grossly unfair to one's mate and virtually impossible to rise to.
Finally - be deeply invested in each others' happiness. This part pretty much takes care of everything else and facilitates the other two points in ways my words cannot even express. If you are lovingly long-term committed to someone, either friend, family member or mate, be invested in their happiness. It makes no sense not to be.
Oh oh oh - I almost forgot to include this because I mistakenly think it is a given (and am so frequently appalled to find it is not) in any romantic relationship that is not consciously chosen to be asexual. Sex. Have it. You are human. We are by nature sexual creatures. The energy of the Universe is sexual energy. So have copious amounts of sex. As good as you can manage, as often as you can manage. Set the alarm in that lovely smartphone you've sunk your money into or write it on your paper calendar if you need to, but yes! Lots of sex!
Am considering printing this off and carrying a copy with me. It surprises me how often I am asked about this. I suppose handing over a sheet of paper would be considered rude, though. ~le sigh~
This entry was originally posted at http://pj.dreamwidth.org/280829.html. Please comment here or there there using your LJ ID or OpenID.