A Rose: The Price of happiness
As a child I used to be fascinated from time to time with the behavior of a bug, we called a roly-poly or Pill bug. It would go about its existence and then roll up in a tight ball the moment if feared threats from the outside world. Porcupine, bears, amongst other such animals have little to no tolerance for being nettled especially in close quarters. Humans don’t like it much either but we have become too civilized to permit expiation by blood price so those of us who feel vulnerable have little but our wits to place distance between us and the things that might do us harm.
If physical harm were our only foe worth fearing, I believe most people could live with the occasional isolation that comes with the need to defend one’s self from the world. We are social creatures, however. No matter how bent and psychotically convinced that hermitage is the best form of existence, it is an unpleasant fact that at we will try to reach out and alleviate our loneliness somehow. The saddest places to do so are where one pays for that moment of alleviation. For some it cost less then a broken heart. Paid companionship can’t expected to care enough about you that they pervade any part of your life other then your wallet at the end of the night.
Truth is, such fleeting relief is not what we want as people who have much to give but live with an emotion that often gets in our way: Fear. Who can blame someone from being afraid of being hurt? Every day one can if one chooses turn on “Judge Judy” and other such shows and be horrified with some of the terrible relationships that are paraded in front of the world’s eyes on that show. When looking at the member of the opposite sex one cannot help but wonder whether anyone you let into your life will respect you or be worthy of your respect or dare I say love and be willing to stick around and work things out. Next, the serious question of whether you are ready to commit to work things out if life throws you and a loved one a curve ball that neither of you handles well.
Even as I consider these problems, I find it hard to believe that I managed to find happiness as I define such things. Shall I say that I was lucky, blessed? Probably a bit of both; that being said, I am no stranger to the problems and heartaches that have happened between my wife and I. If I had known the problems that life would present me, due to being tied to a woman I love but who is very different from me in many ways perhaps I might have hesitated. The question I always considered when looking at my relationships that kept me from backing out or evading them entirely was, “What would I be willing to give for happiness?”
It is easy to withhold oneself against the promise or threat of attack on the heart. Many people live in walled cities in their mind and thus have a hard time making permanent relationships last. If anything goes wrong, both sides of the relationship retreat into their respective fortresses and prepare for a possible war rather then admit fault and find a way to make it work. The thought of what one would give a relationship to make it work is a different consideration. What do you want to give and are you willing to look for others who give as well?
To this end, I came up with my version of relationship poker. I found that the best way to deal with fears that beset me too when I was first getting started was to put something on the table and expect it to be matched in kind. I made sure that I understood the value of what I was putting on the table and what I expected in return. If the person did not respond in kind, I would be moderately curious and even explore what was holding them back. If they just were not willing to play the game and had already figured for the end game to realize that they were not up for that then I could withdraw my stakes and the experience and walk away from the table. I found that this method works pretty well. I got lucky and was blessed with a wife who plays that game as well as I do. As we approached through the obligatory parts of our relationship we each put pieces of ourselves on the proverbial table and the count down to the “River” in “Texas Holdem” terms was a pleasant and even amusing journey. Both of us had our fortresses primed and prepared. On many occasions, we have considered retreat but the game and the joys that come with it have really kept us together. The game has allowed us to be happy even when quite a bit has gone wrong with us over the six years of our marriage and the twelve years of our friendship cum courtship.
If you are feeling timid in how to go about a relationship, quit trying to put all your chips on the table at once. There are more then a few card sharks who find a perverse fascination with taking, “suckers” for all their worth and can smell victory if you are willing to show all of your cards at once or place chips down too quickly. They may, however fold long before the sensitive point if you are willing to drag things out and demand that they put something they value down in exchange. Many card sharks do not value what women see as the ultimate chip or card, sex, and figure placing that same amount as an acceptable loss but if one side then finds that they have given everything and the other side realizes that then walking away doesn’t hurt them at all and leaves the other bleeding in the streets.