As I was preparing for work this past Monday morning, I had an epiphany on what I wanted to write about in this column, and considering Valentine’s Day is still fresh in everyone’s mind, I felt love would be an appropriate subject.
Now, before we go too far, let me say this column is about my oldest son, who is closing in on 21 in a hurry. I write about my boys, my mother, and even friends often enough this shouldn’t be a surprise, and it especially won’t be a surprise to him as I have been writing about him for years now.
For the first time my son is truly in love.
There I said it, making a reality the fact he is no longer the chap I hauled around to anything and everything for years. The cynic in me, the one who is jaded by poor relationship decisions, fully accepting of my responsibility in their demise, whether a slow quiet death or a match thrown into the pump at a gas station kind of end, of course cringed at the thought.
But that was brief and a knee jerk reaction. It only took spending Valentine’s Day with the two of them to see how good they are together and to one another.
Those hours were a revelation in how much my son has matured, even in the face of the fact he has been an adult far longer than I have. I saw why it was he never trifled with dating, never dating just to have something to do, but was selective, looking for a young woman who represented the things important in his life.
It does take a great deal of maturity to understand how important it is to not only find someone who you can truly care about but to find someone willing to support the aspirations and dreams you have for yourself. I obviously don’t know everything that goes on between them but based on all appearances this seems to be the case, and I know him well enough to know how he would feel if the situation were different.
Sometimes the best lessons we are taught are not brought to us by people who have been the greatest of successes but by those who have made mistakes, crucial errors in judgment, or less than stellar decisions, especially if the are willing to take an unbiased look at themselves and learn.
Maybe somewhere along the way I had an impact, not really sure, but I will be glad to share with them the relationship advice I have to offer, based on my own failures and experience. But it’s like I always tell anyone who asks for advice from me: “Just remember when I finish, it’s worth exactly what you paid for it — absolutely nothing.”
So, here are the things I suggest.
Respect is far more important than you think it is and it is a two way street. Never forget, just because you may not agree with the other’s opinion, no matter the subject, does not mean your partner doesn’t deserve respect. Never let a childish notion such as a need to have your way destroy something bigger than an argument, disagreement, or difference of opinion.
Always remember the little things you enjoyed doing for one another in the beginning and never stop. It’s the little things in life that make the difference and in relationships it’s no different. A little notion on a random weekday are far bigger than the extravagance of a Christmas gift.
The element of surprise proportionally increases the joy associated — he gets math like his old man. Sorry. And just as important, this is not a one way street and you both should strive for that one instant everyday to make one another feel as special as you are.
Your relationship is like a child and goes through stages of maturation and development in the same way. In the beginning it’s new and fresh and easy to nurture. As it ages, things will change, and that is just the nature of life. One of the reasons for so many divorces in this country is the unrealistic expectation it will and should always be just like it was.
That’s foolish. Remember, it will change, but as it does, the intimacy will become better and the foundation more important. Accept the growth and maturity of your relationship and enjoy it.
Be honest above all else. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, always be honest to a fault. Not hurtful in your honesty, but honest nonetheless. There is no room for distrust or jealousy and honesty will always trump them. Eventually you will find there is nothing which can’t be shared making what you have even stronger.
Finally, a small handful for you. Don’t judge, manipulate, or blackmail emotionally. Always be supportive and mean it. Remember your partner’s dreams and accomplishments are just as important as your own, be the one who always has their back. Be loyal and never forget what your partner has stuck with you through.
I suppose that’s all I can possibly say, delving as deep into my own well knowledge and experience as I possibly can go. Just be patient, both of you, and learn from your mistakes, forgive one another, and never forget you were always friends.
D. C. Moody is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.