I want my epitaph to say: “He Loved Well”; not just “He Meant well”
I want to listen closely enough to my partner to be sure that I know what she needs from me, and not just rely on what I think she needs (which might be based more on my needs and feelings than on hers).
I want my partner to tell me how my aim to love and support her feels to her – because I know now that my good intentions are of no value unless they are experienced by her as loving and supportive.
I want to learn more about what my partner’s world is like for her – and not just rely on my own view of things, or be arrogant enough to think that I know what is best for her, or even for myself. And accept the reality that truly getting to know each other (and ourselves) will take patience, time and commitment. But the reward will be a richer and more connected life together.
I want to be honest enough with myself to see what my deep motivations and needs are – especially the ones that may not be as pure and saintly, or as confident and manly, as the version of myself that I prefer, and want the world to see – so that I can own up to and share them with my partner.
I want us both to feel safe and respected enough to be able to laugh at our own illusions and inconsistencies and be patient and kind with our weaknesses and selfishness so that we don’t feel too ashamed of them to be fully open with each other.
For all of this to happen, we must promise to always share and listen when anything either of us says or does feels in any way ‘off’ – and to hear about that without defensiveness or fear so that we can both learn to know our true selves in all their complications – as well as our deeper selves in their simplicity. And take the risk of being known and loved for who we really are, not just for the person we’d like to be.
Most importantly, we won’t bury feelings out of a fear of causing upset or ‘rocking the boat’ – because they would end up damaging the foundation of our trust and connectedness. Shared feelings- – however hard they might be to share – will always be an opportunity for getting closer.
This way we can feel sure enough of ourselves, and of each other, to hear any anger or criticism from without fear or defensiveness – as a signal either that we have been thoughtless (which we can learn from and change) or have been misinterpreted and can clarify any misunderstanding. And this will also raise our awareness of the need to heal any pain in ourselves that is a block to loving fully and openly.
This, along with the simple pleasure of being in each other’s company, vertically and horizontally, is the foundation of what I always wanted from being married – and because we both seem to want the same things from our relationship, I know I am especially blessed and happy at the age of 68 to have made my partner my wife six months ago.
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