Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Staying together
December 6, 2017
I met a couple who have been together for over 50 years and they seem to genuinely like one another. And I was struck by the thought that those long-lasting relationships seem to be more and more rare.
Instead, people giving up on each other has become more the norm. Break-ups of the rich and famous are in the news regularly and among us "plain folk" about as often, but without all the press.
When I see or hear about a couple I care about parting ways, I am sad. I am not only sad for them, but I am sad for all the history that will no longer be shared. I am sad for the dream that died. Another fairytale without the happily ever after.
There is no question that enduring relationships take work. People come together with hope and fire. Passion is defined as "strong and barely controllable emotion."
Love can make you do some incredible stuff. Sacrifices are willingly made. People go the extra mile, bend over backwards and make every effort, but passion wanes.
Love, in the throes of passion, finds people engaging in unsustainable behavior — sometimes creating unrealistic expectations and when the flames turn to ember, real life is waiting patiently.
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As time goes by, keeping that passion alive, keeping that person as the priority, being willing to do whatever it takes, becomes, for some, hard to do.
The ups and downs
Life happens. People change. People hurt one another. They take the relationship for granted. It is not uncommon. Dare I say, it is the norm.
I personally believe the most important facet of an intimate long-term relationships is knowing you have a soft place to fall. A place where you can be your truest self without fear of rejection or ridicule. Where you can show your vulnerabilities. Test yourself.
The role of the intimate partner is to be your confidant. Your cheerleader. Your safe place.
The first such experience should come from your parents, but of course, not everyone grows up in a loving secure environment.
When people grow up without a support system, when they must learn the hard way they are on their own and no one has their back in the truest sense, learning to trust another human enough to be vulnerable takes a special type of courage, and I would guess a lot of therapy.
I hope I succeeded in providing that for my children and because they know what it is to have a champion, they can go out into the world and look for a life partner who will provide the same.
The disappointments, disenchantment and heartache they will inevitably encounter on their journey to that one person who will understand them, see them, accept them, encourage them, believe in them and give them a soft place to fall is all part of the ride.
Sometimes bumpy, often exhilarating. Sometimes a long straight passage where they can see all that is ahead and other times, dark and curvy where knowing what is next is impossible — until they turn the next corner.
Finding the right person
Life is not easy a lot of the time. Sometimes we put our faith in the wrong person and we get hurt. But if we learn to read the signs, recognize past mistakes and pursue what is true for us, another will come along who is interested in riding alongside.
One with similar ideals. One who will encourage rather than ridicule. And then it's a matter of making the choice to stay in it.
I don't believe there is any perfect relationship but when two individuals come together who can accept each other as they are, that is a beautiful thing.
Staying together through all the ups and downs of life is hard. There must be a lot of give and take; a lot of acceptance; a lot of patience and a lot of old fashioned honesty.
One thing relationships rarely have time for is game playing. Once that lesson is learned, the survival outlook becomes much more promising.
I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I have been in a long term committed relationship for a couple of decades now — infancy in some circles — but my personal best at this point.
It has not always been easy, or perfect. There have not been many times when I thought I had made a mistake but over the years, there have been a few.
There was a time I stuck with it simply because I said I would. I made a commitment. I gave my word and that alone was enough for me to decide to hang in there long enough for the ups and downs to go up again.
Another time, it was practicality, stability for my children and a deep love and belief in who the person I am in a relationship with is at his core — that along with my abhorrence for packing — stopped me in my tracks.
We weathered the storms and we grew stronger dancing in the rain.
People seem to give up so easily on one another in today's world. If you are lucky enough to have someone to love, I recommend slowing down a bit and savoring the moments.
If you are with the right one, you can rest confident in the understanding that when life knocks you down, at the very least you have a soft place to fall.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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