Click here to read part one By Intelligent Life
Now I’ve dated women of many different backgrounds and cultures, from Black to White to Asian to Hispanic and there truly are many differences between the cultures. For me however, that was great! I always embraced differences in cultures and backgrounds as a way of expanding ones perspective on people and life. Being raised by a single mom with my older sister, it was never difficult for me to relate to and understand what women go through in life. I always said that two of the strongest and most intelligent people I’ve ever known were my mother and sister. Point is, my mother always made it clear to me that men and women definitely do have different ways of achieving the same goals.
It doesn’t make one right and the other wrong though. It just makes them different and that’s fine. It’s the respect that you show for those differences that make them palatable or an issue. It really just comes down to the people involved. I know men who, because of their cultural up-bringing, would NEVER touch a plate after eating dinner with their family. These men have stated to me, adamantly, that it is not their job to clear the table. I’m sure there are some women who read that and are shocked or disgusted by that while some my crack a smile because they know that I’m describing their man. Myself on the other hand, being raised in a home with two women, I never looked at it as anyone’s job or duty. It’s just something that needs to be done. Whether it be done by myself or my partner. For some women that might not be a big deal but to some others that one thing could be a deal breaker because they may see it as a lack of respect.
Neither attitude is flat out wrong, it’s a matter of whether it’s right or wrong for you personally. That’s the thing once again, the differences between two people and how we interpret and react to them. An acceptance and understanding of our differences can make a HUGE difference in how we relate and deal with our problems with one another. Going back to the idea of the relationship being a living breathing entity, if you have a healthy amount of respect for that entity, when disagreements arise you’ll both be less prone to disrespecting each other for fear of disrespecting the most important entity, the relationship. It becomes more important than either person’s selfish needs or wants simply because it is made up of each individual’s needs and wants. Like a child, it bears a resemblance of both of you.
If you’re dealing fair and equally with each other it won’t resemble one person’s needs and wants over the other person’s. One person may have a stronger personality over the other but both people need to begin to feel a desire to make small sacrifices for one another. It’s cyclical, as you put into it so you shall get back from it. From childhood, when we want something, anything we will put our best effort into something. Well if you want to achieve something greater in your relationship you must dedicate yourself to taking the steps necessary to make it something greater. If you’re building a bridge and you want it to be strong you must put the necessary parts into it in order for it to be strong and sturdy.
Getting back to the things that make us different, I can’t help but focus on the things that we share in common. There is a thing called human nature that we must take into account at all times. You can’t take for granted the natural reaction a person will have for different situations in life. Even the best relationships will have some not-so-good moments and even some dull or quiet moments. Don’t take those times as a sign it’s not working out or that things have gotten stale. The moment I knew my relationship with my wife was growing strong was very early in our relationship when we were riding in the car together, no music, no words, no conversation and it wasn’t weird or uncomfortable, it was just a natural quiet moment together. Early in relationships, we all tend to want to make it as funny, exciting and interesting as much and for as long as possible. Many people call that the honeymoon period of a new relationship.
For many, the time when that period is over is when you see what your feelings for each other are made of. He no longer tries as hard to impress you and she may no longer try her hardest to look her best for you at all times. You begin to learn more about one another’s little habits and quirks. This may be the time when you begin to meet each other’s families and friends. All the stories about their up-bringing now begin to take shape in your mind because you now meet many of the people you heard about in those stories. I can’t tell you that there are certain signs to look out for at this point but what I will suggest is that you now begin to be more honest with yourself about where you are in regards to your comfort level with all of this new found information. The hardest hump to get over however is that moment when you get to the point of developing serious feelings for one another. It can make for an uncomfortable situation if you don’t arrive at that point together. If you don’t, I would suggest you be patient and certainly don’t panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean he or she doesn’t feel strongly about you, it may just mean they as an individual are not ready to make that commitment.
You do however owe it to yourself to address the issue before it begins to become a burden on your mind. One thing I’ve never found to be good is letting thoughts of another, linger in your mind too long. Positive thoughts that linger too long tend to turn into negative thoughts and negative thoughts that linger tend to turn into attitudes. Love peace and happiness is the pinnacle of any relationship and you’ll never get there if you don’t take the time to be open and honest with yourself and your partner about your feelings on the relationship.
Years ago, while I was attending a college graduation, the guest speaker said something to the graduating class that always stuck with me. The college was a Visual Arts school so the students were going on to be artists, photographers and the like. He told them not to wait until they sold a piece of their work before thinking they were professionals. Not to let that one act decide for them whether or not they were a professional at what they do because it’s the time and dedication you put into it that will get you to that point. The minute you conduct yourself as a professional is when you become a professional. Relationships require the same mentality and outlook. Don’t wait until you are in a serious relationship before you decide if you are ready for that commitment. The growth you need as an individual before you get to that point will enable you to become successful at your relationships.
You can’t be in a serious relationship yet still behave and think as a single person does and expect that relationship to function properly. If you’re still at a point where you want to hang out all the time with friends and be amongst people who are single, then maybe you’re not ready for a serious relationship. Now if you both are still at that point together and the friends you’re hanging out with are not your partner then maybe it will work, for a while. The point is you need to prepare yourself emotionally and mentally before you can embark on a long and successful relationship. When I hear people say a relationship is a lot of work, I cringe. I dislike it as much as hearing someone say they want someone to change.
I personally don’t look at it as work. I see it as an experience, one that can be eventful and fun with some bumps along the way but ultimately I experienced something that will always be a part of me whether it was simply a physical thing or something much deeper than that. I always felt as though I never had a bad relationship, even the ones that ended abruptly or with issues swirling. I always looked at them as experiences, ones that I can learn from and grow from.
My current wife became that to me because of who she is and how she makes me feel but much more importantly, because she saw enough in me to have the patience to grow with me and allow me the space to learn from my mistakes. Because my feelings for her were strong, I made it a priority to learn from my mistakes so I could be a better man to her and continue to grow stronger with her. Every relationship in my life has grown tremendously since then because of this and because of her. We share many things together but the greatest thing we share is our friendship. To me THAT is the key to our relationship. There are things that in previous relationships I would’ve felt were more of a burden and would do my best to not partake in them. Now however, not only do I find them not to be a burden but I actually find enjoyment in them if for no other reason than it makes her happy which will increase my happiness.
I can’t say that by following my advice you are guaranteed to achieve the ultimate in relationship bliss, but it has certainly worked for me and we’re still growing together. I’ve had many friends but very few best friends. Having a wife who is your best friend is the best friend I could ask for. So remember, first be honest with yourself and your partner. If you can’t be honest with yourself though first, how can you expect others to be honest with you? Second, focus on cultivating the relationship, on bridging the gap between seeing someone and becoming seriously involved with someone. Make that bridge strong and pleasant by giving the relationship the respect and attention it needs to grow. And third, except the fact that you will have differences and while you’re going through it, it may not be fun to deal with, but bear in mind that it’s natural. Even the best relationships have ups and downs. You just don’t want the downs to be bulk of the relationship. Like I said before, love peace and happiness is the pinnacle of every strong relationship, the experience of getting there however, is a journey worth taking.
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