Friday, September 23, 2005

On Relationships and Changes…

It’s funny, to me at least, how our views can change over the years.

When I was a teenager, it was so very important to me to be with a girl that others, besides myself, thought was attractive.

As a young man, things shifted at bit, and what *I* thought became more important than what others thought. But, what they thought, was still important to me.

Today, it’s only what I think that’s at all important to me.

I know I’ve always cared about what was inside, how that person treated me and so on. However, in thinking back, I know I was treated the worst, by the most beautiful (visually) women, and tolerated it far longer than I should have, or would have, had they been less attractive. That's not to say I wasn't also treated well by attractive women, because I was, let me explain a little further.

This was a particularly difficult thing for me to face as I’d always told myself that the ‘outside’ shouldn’t matter. It didn’t, really matter; to me… it did matter though to the part of me that was seeking approval and validation from others. The hotter my friends told me a woman I was seeing was; the harder it would be for me to end the relationship, even though I knew I had to.

It’s only in looking back that I see these these things, and the subsequent changes, in me. I certainly never saw things this clearly then, or I truly believe I would have done something about it!

I need to say this, before we go much further. Not to take anything away from any of the other women I’ve known in my life, but to me, my wife is the single most attractive woman I’ve ever known. She’s inspired feelings in me I haven’t had since I was a teenager and some I've never felt before. I never tire of looking at her, and still after 6 years of living together, I can still be aroused by her simply walking across the room in a pair of overalls. She is, as they say “The object of my affections.”

So I’ve been thinking about how relationships change as we mature. I said mature, instead of age, because they’re definitely different. I know some guys that are still like I was in high school, all about the external appearance. They could care less what’s going on inside that woman, as long as she looks good on their arm. In my mind, they’ve aged, but not matured.

Fortunately though, most of the guys I know, and hang out with, are far more concerned about the quality of a woman’s character than the shine in her hair. They care more about how sexy she 'acts' with them in private, than how sexy she ‘looks’ to someone else.

Why am I rambling on about this, at this particular time… well, because I’ve been thinking about it, and when I get stuck thinking about something I end up writing about it!

As those of you who come by here on a regular basis know, my wife has had more than her share of health issues over the past 12 to 18 months. As a result, she’s gained some weight (or so she says) and on many days the smile I love so much has been replaced by the grimace of pain. I know however, there’s been no diminished love or desire on either of our parts, just an ‘inconvenience’ or so the doctors say.

As it would with anyone, she, from time to time, worries about her attractiveness, to me. That the changes she’s going through will somehow change how I feel about her, how much I desire her, or crave her touch.

This, in particular, is one of those times I wish it were possible to just plug someone into your thoughts, or record them, so they could play them back. It’s one thing for me to tell her, and act like; she’s as attractive to me as ever (she is). It’s yet another for her to assimilate that information and banish forever from her thoughts any feelings to the contrary.

It’s one of the issues in relationships I have the most trouble in understanding, yet I know it’s a very common problem. One not limited to a woman feeling that way, but one men worry about as well.

I don’t think we (men or women) really know how our partner’s see us. Instead we project what we see, our likes and dislikes about our bodies, ourselves, into what we believe they see.

It’s hardly fair, when you think of it. Especially for us ‘married folk’ to project things that way, to assume the person who’s picked *us* to spend the rest of their life with, would, or could, see us as anything but, attractive, to them. After all, they certainly saw something about us they liked well enough to want to commit a lifetime to!

Do we really think that little of our partners that they would have based their decision to be with us, on something as superficial as looks? Or, that we maintain some unstated, yet very real, mysterious ‘perfect weight’?? Do we truly believe that they were so ‘star struck’ by our physical attractiveness alone in the beginning that, they’d vanish into the night if our star ever fades? That a person who’s committed themselves to us for the rest of their lives would care if the number of hair follicles on our bodies increased or decreased?

I doubt that could really be it, after all, who in their right mind would marry a person they thought that little of. Would we have married a person if we thought that their love for us was so fragile, that, gaining or losing a few pounds, growing or losing some hair, getting a few gray hairs or where the appearance of some wrinkles would affect their feelings towards us? I don’t think so, at least I would not have!

So I’ve been thinking about this… what is it that I’m in love with, about my wife? What is it about her, that drives me crazy with desire for her?

I know I’m not speaking for ‘every’ man, but I’ll bet I’m about to speak for the majority! (here’s your chance guys, step up, be honest and tell us what it is for you!).

If I had to boil it all down to one thing, it’s how she treats me.

That’s a pretty broad statement, so let’s talk a few specifics.

How does she treat me?… with love, kindness and affection… that’s how.

It’s in the way she touches me, kisses me and interacts with me. The bond I feel with her, a bond that I would never break, because of what it means to me, if for no other reason, was born in this.

It’s the way she’s proud of my accomplishments, yet doesn’t let my ego swell up too much and get in the way. How she holds me after a failure and let’s me know it will be alright, that she believes I’ll find another way. That she considers me her best friend, her confidant and her sounding board. The way her touch excites me like no other ever has...

It’s that smile, that wonderful smile, that always crosses her face when she knows I’ve been watching her… in the garden, with the cats, mowing the lawn, in the kitchen, walking up the driveway or stepping from the shower… I love to look at her, and she loves catching me…

It’s in the way she’ll touch, my arm, my shoulder, my face… or ‘cop a feel’ when she’s sure no one is looking (or can see).

It’s in a thousand other things too; each one ties into the next, weaving a fabric that wraps me in emotions for this woman, my wife.

No extra wrinkle here or there, gray hair, gain or loss in weight… No freckle, age spot, mole or pimple… no stray chin, nose or ear hair… no sags or droops… none of those physical changes life will throw at us over the years, will change the love and desire I have. The only thing, that could (or would) change it, would be for her to change, the way she treats me.

I’ve probably not done this subject justice, but the fact remains, I truly believe we need to see ourselves, through our partner’s eyes… to show each other the vision we have of the other, so that they can share it with us.

As always... thanks for listening… and, by all means sound off and tell me what you think… what is it, for you, that fuels the fires, the love, the passion you feel for your partner?

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16 comments:

Nina said...

Beautiful post Bill, I know this kind of love. I can be doing laundry and his smell is on one of his shirts, and this feeling washes over me. When we are apart, I think about him and this feeling washes over me.

I have walked into a room and seen his eyes sparkle when he got sight of me. Seen the smile, which says he is happy to see me.

Others have said do you know how much he loves you? When you are not here and he is talking about you, that love just shines through.

That is what I would say to your wife about this post, your love for her shines though.

Stranger Ken said...

My son's getting married this coming week, Bill and, as I read, I thought I ought to point him at this post. On the other hand, these are all things we have to find out together as the road unfolds, right? Lovely piece and, by the way, your blog is looking seriously smart these days! It makes me wonder whether I'm in need of a make-over back there at the old Blue Blogger homestead.

Stranger Ken said...

Sorry about the messy deletions, Bill, but your Login and Publish button seemed to be playing tricks this afternoon and couldn't easily be persuaded to work - or so I thought!

Bill said...

Nanina - Thank you. I do love her, overwhelmingly, at times it surprises even me! All of those things you mentioned, what I wrote, and more...

I don't think I was capable of this 20 years ago, if I was, I certainly hid it, even from myself!

I hope my wife reads it, and your comment! (While she does read the blog, she doesn't always read it everyday)


Ken - I don't actually know the answer to that... I might have gained soemthing by hearing something like this... then, unless I was 'ready' for it, it may have meant nothing at all... or, it's entirely possible it would have been tucked away for when I was ready... who knows.

I think it's the programmer in me that keeps wanting to 'tweak' the template... I think you should do what makes *you* happy with your place Ken, it looks fine to me!

amberdusk said...

That was very beautiful and I can only hope I have the same with my husband latter in my life. It's hard though as a woman to accept you are attractive to your husband when you don't feel it. I will try to be more accepting the next time he insists on it.

Bill said...

Amberdusk - Thank you. The whole point was to get folks thinking about trying to see what their partner sees! :)

I could have written this from 'my' perspective, as I've had, at times, trouble 'feeling' as attractive as she tells me I am to her.

Thanks for stopping by!!

RealLady said...

Thank you Sweetie for your compliments of “love, emotion, understanding, sensitivity, support, encouragement” and any thing in-between. It is difficult to explain how a woman often views herself when she is on her last nerve, suffering for hormonal loss, and trying to cope to with the other health “inconveniences” that life has thrown her way!

I do hear your words, and I can feel the love behind them as they embrace me. I can see the sparkle in your eye when it reflects the projection of mine. Without this from you, as you so freely give to me, I couldn’t stay on the path of “refusal” and fight the daily battles.

I love you! “Bunches!”

Bill said...

RL - You're very welcome... and your strength, through what I know has been a difficult path, has been, and continues to be, amazing to me.

Through it all I've seen the tenacity and inner courage that drew me to you from the beginning.

I love you too!!

Firehawk said...

Bill,

Another "one for the books". I think that the reason that many relationships can fail over trivial matters is that they started for the wrong reasons. Real love isn't that common. Most people stay together because of a lack of imagination, not real love.

Bill said...

Firehawk - you said

"Most people stay together because of a lack of imagination, not real love."

Sometimes, love can slip through your fingers... it's there, and then, the next thing you know... it's gone...

That happened to me, in my 1st marriage. I know I was in love, but time, complacency and focus on the wrong (unimportant) things for too long and one day, I just knew it was gone.

I suppose that's why I'm so cognizant in this relationship to remind one another of what's really important.

Glad you could come by; your thoughts always trigger more of my own.

RealLady said...

"It isn't how you get through the good times that makes a relationship work, it is how you get through the bad times." (thanks to Hume Cronyn for these words of advice).

And "thankyou Bill" for being there when times are tough! I love you!

Firehawk said...

Bill,

I read in a book (by Dennis MacKiernan) a thought that love is like a common ground between two people, a set of shared understandings, needs, desires, and hopes. If the ground between these two people isn't tended, it shrinks and becomes barren until there's nothing at all linking those who once had so much. When that commonality is lost, the love is gone.

I just thought I'd put that in, now that i think of it.

Bill said...

RL - You're welcome darlin :) You know me... I need a little adversity to get me out of bed!!

Firehawk - Well said.. it is very much like a garden... properly tended it will flourish and bloom... left alone it will often die.

The shared things can be tangible like hobbies or sports.. ot intangible like core beliefs or desires... but I do believe there has to be a commonality.

Thanks for stopping in!

Ilene said...

What a beautiful love letter. That is what I was always looking for with my ex and could never get. I have always loved the Conway Twitty song "I Love to Lay You Down." It speaks of loving growing even when age and time has taken away the bloom of youth. It is about that desire that goes so much deeper than superficial beauty. You are a wonderful writer. You wife is very fortunate.

Bill said...

Ilene - Thanks, actually I think I'm the fortunate one.. the truth is, we're both lucky to have found one another.

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