- Gender and Relationships
When real life love challenges cynical statistics
Yesterday was Valentine's Day, a day when a great many folks reflect on the subjects of love, romance and marriage. As I was speaking with my Mama today on the phone I remembered that Mama and Daddy (my adoption parents, the ones who raised me as their own) have been married 50 years. I've thought about this fact for some hours, and as well the relationship my husband and I have shared for seventeen years. I came to some realizations about true life love and the nature of lasting relationships. Now, these realizations utterly contradict the statistics of today's scientifically "validated" research about relationships between men and women. While I don't expect any one to take them as definitive all-encompassing truths, I do believe they stand as challenges to cynical popular "facts". And I thought you may enjoy reading, too. So here you go.
Stat challenge #1
Women don't marry men "beneath" their social standing
My parents come from totally different backgrounds: Mama was born to a very prosperous family, in fact considered rich by any standards. Daddy, on the other hand, grew up as he called it, "dirt poor". Despite these very different circumstances when they were in their early 30's they met and just a few months later were married. They've been together for over 50 years now. Mama had her chance to marry within her social circle but she chose instead to marry the man she loves, the one who loves her and has stood by her through thick and thin.
So, to all the cynical folks who say women are all about the money and security and niceties in life, you are erroneously in the wrong.
Stat challenge #2
Like attracts like
My parents are as alike as night and day. Daddy is a very bookish man, Mama was always a very active, sports-minded woman. Daddy likes desserts, Mama couldn't care less. Daddy has a love of music, Mama is admittedly tone deaf. Daddy is demonstrative of his affections, while Mama is typically, as they used to call it in the older days, stand-offish. Daddy is a staunch Republican; Mama is a confirmed Democrat. Daddy enjoys going to movies and Mama hates them with a crimson passion. Poor Daddy knows enough about cooking to heat up a nice pot of water -on a good day- while Mama was a most adventurous chef, in fact the best cook I ever knew.
Likewise, my husband and I are vastly different, too. My hubby is an extrovert while I am rather shy. He loves camping, while I'd rather go to a nice hotel and have room service. He likes sixties rock and 80's club music while I like classical music and arena rock. He likes a rum and cola while I stick to my wine. He watches movies about men doing manly stuff in high-speed chase action flicks; I prefer movies about historical times and romances. My man loves a juicy thriller while I'd rather read a hot erotica. My man can sleep anywhere -from the edge of the mattress to the ledge of a roof if he had to- while I need everything comfy and all my creams, lotions, saline and inhaler in reachable distance. My hubby can, and does, have a natural talent for cooking delicious meals and takes to the kitchen like a second glove..I can prepare a nice spaghetti sauce and potato casserole but would rather wash a tub full of dirty dishes than come face to face with the inside of a stove. Hubby leans conservatively to the Right and I'm an Independent with a Libertarian leaning. His SNL era of choice is the John Belushi and Chevy Chase years while my pick is the decade that saw Dana Carvey and Chris Farley. When it comes to child-rearing my husband is the disciplinarian; I'm the softie. He is the courageous defender of our castle, who will fight anyone who dares threaten anyone in the family. Me, on the other hand, am the negotiator..although I have been known to throw frying pans at threatening large animals.
But like my parents, our differences attract. So, to anyone wondering about the odds of a relationship becoming meaningful, I say the compatibility strengths shouldn't be measured in how alike the two of you are but how complementing you are of one another.
Stat challenge #3
Well, this one I can very honestly say is hogwash. Over 18 years ago I fell head-over-heels in love with my husband, with that kind of passion that inflames your every waking thought of the other person and gives you dreams like a torrid passage out of a blistering Romance novel. All these years later the thought of him still makes me all gushy and soft and breathless. My feelings for my man has inspired several torrid romance novels and stories, too. And I fully believe that years from now, when we're both old and wrinkled and rely on walkers to get around I'll still be copping feels of his butt, and hopefully he'll still be nuzzling my neck in that way that makes me tingle. So nope, I do not think passion must necessarily fade from any relationship, and only does if you weren't real fond of that aspect of the relationship to begin with.
Stat challenge #4
There is no such thing as soul mates
Around twenty years ago I began dreaming about a man I didn't know. He was tall, muscular, dark-haired, bronzed and had the most gorgeous brown eyes I had ever seen. In the dreams it seemed I knew him somehow but couldn't remember from where. Even at not being able to place this once I awoke, I knew that in the dream this man had come for me. This was a recurring dream, one I had at least twice every month and it continued for two years.
And then I met that very man in real life. We would go on to fall in love and to marry, and have been together ever since. Because of the dreams I had had of him before meeting I know that some things are just meant to be. There is such a thing as soul mates, and yes, that one true love awaits us all.
Stat challenge #5
The emotion called love is only a human chemical response to certain hormones that doesn't carry on after the object of attraction is no longer around.
My challenge to this theory comes from an incident I experienced as a young girl. I was around ten years old and one day while I was in Vacation Bible School, happened to be the only kid to show up that evening. My teacher -also a cousin of my Mama's- asked me if I'd like to skip class that evening and go to her house to help cut some flowers for Sunday to take to church. I was happy to help and she drove us in her car to her home, which wasn't far away. My teacher brought forth several large baskets and a great pair of shears and we proceeded to her flower garden. As I helped her gather a good supply of cornflowers and daisies and baby's breath I happened to notice her dog, Charile, trot by from the house. Charlie walked straight through the garden until he reached a little place under a large tree. It was now that I noticed, for the first time, a grave marker set on the ground under the shades. As I watched, Charlie laid down over this grave, and stretching his front legs over the marker, lay his head down.
I asked my teacher what Charlie was doing. She smiled and said it was Charlie's custom to sleep there every night as Lassie was buried there.
Thinking she meant the Lassie from the movies I felt sad and told her it was the first time I'd heard Lassie was dead! She told me then it was not that Lassie, but her Lassie, whom had been the family's collie and after she had died the family had buried her under the trees.
As Charlie -an obvious mutt- didn't resemble a collie at all I asked why Charlie slept on Lassie's grave. My teacher explained that Charlie had come by the family when he was very young, dropped off they assumed, by someone who decided they didn't want a puppy after all. Lassie, she said, had been a young dog herself and at first didn't want anything to do with Charlie. But as time went by, the two dogs became very close. Eventually Lassie gave birth to a litter sired by Charlie. My teacher went on to say that even after the pups were adopted by others and Lassie and Charile were both "fixed" so they couldn't have more babies, they were inseparable. Charlie never strayed to other lady dogs, and he always let Lassie eat first from their dish. The two groomed each other daily and slept together in a single bed in the garage. Charlie, being an avid hunter, also brought Lassie back first choice of all the squirrels, groundhogs, mice and rabbits he caught in the field nearby.
Then, when Lassie became ill Charlie stayed by her side constantly. After Lassie had to be "put down" he wouldn't eat or sleep for days. But he did find her grave. Soon he began hunting again, and every quarry he brought down he carried back to lay on Lassie's grave.
After my teacher told me this I said something to the effect of how sad poor Charlie must be. But my teacher smiled and patted my shoulder and said that Charlie was indeed not sad but just waiting to see Lassie again.
"He will," my teacher said, "of this I have no doubt of as they mated not just for life but for all times."
In remembering this story I am reminded that humans are animals, too. We may think we are more intelligent, more spiritual, more complex, ect., than all other animals, but the truth is we are all living, thinking creatures of the same Creator. Even after the capacity for a chemical reaction had been taken from Charlie and Lassie their bond remained. And if Charlie and Lassie could love so steadfastly, I do believe it is possible for two humans -with all our innate flaws and shortcomings- to love one another with the same fidelity. A fidelity that defies the mortal shell and lasts, tenderly and earnestly, into the next world.
In closing, let me suggest that if you and your soul mate (or true love) do find one another in this brief time called life, don't let anyone's cynicism or analytical reason either influence or dictate your future. Reason and practicality passes with the last breath; and love is the only thing we get to bear with us from this world into the beyond. So love as your spirit is guided and never be afraid to love, love, love with all that you are.