Men go into Caves; Women are like Waves

Recently, a friend gifted me a copy of three chapters, well-used and stapled together, of the classic relationship advice book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Published by counselor John Gray in 1992, these yellowed pages had a surprising amount of helpful wisdom.

The main takeaway, which is not rocket science or anything—though I appreciated the clear and simple way he explains the differences between men and women and the way we communicate, express ourselves and deal with difficulty—is that men go into caves, while women are like waves.

Men are motivated and empowered when they feel needed. Women are motivated and empowered when they feel cherished.

When men are struggling with a problem, feeling upset or angry, they often “go into a cave”, get silent and need space and time to process alone. Women, from the other planet, go through cycles or waves—going up, feeling good, fulfilled, motivated and loved, and then doing down into the trough, crashing down into emotional overwhelm, worry, frustration or confusion.

Like I said, it’s not a revelation. These are simple metaphors, and they make sense. The more you know…. Now I can let my partner go into his cave when he needs to and not try to elicit conversation from him until he has emerged. I will watch my own wave and be more aware of my tendencies to go to extreme highs and lows, seeking greater balance and moderation in my daily life. Hey, maybe I should read the whole book!

3 Essential Life Lessons that Maya Angelou Taught Me.

3 Essential Life Lessons that Maya Angelou Taught Me.

(1) “The honorary duty of a human being is to love.” 

(2) “Never make someone your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”

(3) “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”

 

 

Date Whoever the Hell You Want To.

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Happy Schmalentine’s Day!

(Almost.)

The worst holiday of the year is coming up on Friday. I hated it when I was single and feeling badly about it (most of my life), and I’m proud to stay I still hate it even though I am married now.

I feel like a lot of holidays aren’t much more than opportunities for the marketing, advertising and media industries to convince us that we need to buy more stuff and give certain gifts to certain people on a certain day. (Mother’s Day, Father’s Days and Christmas are other examples.)

Anyway, as long as I’m ranting about Valentine’s Day, I might as well bitch about the plethora of articles spawned by a viral blog from May 2012 called “Date a Boy Who Travels.” Date a Girl Who Takes Hot Yoga? Really?

First of all, don’t date a “boy” or a “girl”, please. That’s illegal.

Date a man or a woman. Whichever you want.

I would tell you to date someone who’s nice to you, but if you’re into dating people who aren’t nice to you, you’re not going to listen to me. You’ve got to live through enough meanness to figure out that you’re worth more and don’t have to put up with that bullshit.

Date someone who you could love and who could love you. Otherwise, why are you dating?

Date someone who you could maybe consider spending the rest of your life with… if that’s your ultimate desire.

Lifetime partnership is not for everybody.

Some of us think it’s for us, but maybe we’re wrong. Anything could happen. Separation, divorce, death. It’s not pleasant to think about, but it’s a fact—a fact that makes life and love all the more precious.

Some may think we’re not cut out for long-term or “lifelong” love, but the day after tomorrow we will meet our forever partner and all that we had once believed will fly out the cage.

If you’re not “in a relationship”, date yourself. Take yourself to dinner and a movie. Travel solo. Indulge in romantic gifts for yourself once in a while.

We’re all in relationship with everything and everyone else. That’s the nature of life and the reality of the universe we live in.

Finally, read this wild quote from J. Krishnamurti:

Can’t you fall in love and not have a possessive relationship? I love someone and she loves me and we get married — that is all perfectly straightforward and simple, in that there is no conflict at all.

(When I say we get married I might just as well say we decide to live together — don’t let’s get caught up in words.) Can’t one have that without the other, without the tail as it were, necessarily following?

Can’t two people be in love and both be so intelligent and so sensitive that there is freedom and absence of a centre that makes for conflict?

Conflict is not in the feeling of being in love. The feeling of being in love is utterly without conflict. There is no loss of energy in being in love. The loss of energy is in the tail, in everything that follows — jealousy, possessiveness, suspicion, doubt, the fear of losing that love, the constant demand for reassurance and security.

Surely it must be possible to function in a sexual relationship with someone you love without the nightmare which usually follows. Of course it is.

First Comes Baby, Then Comes Marriage

Once upon a time, there was a girl who spent untold hours at a meditation retreat visualizing every detail of her future storybook wedding.

That was me, in 2007, at my first silent Vipassana retreat. A lot can change in six years.

Compared to the birth of a newborn child, matrimonial ceremonies are a bit anticlimactic.

Yesterday, I got married. Yes, I love him. Yes, I am thrilled to be in a loving, content, committed relationship with a wonderfully kind, intelligent, creative person. Admittedly, our legal marriage was wholly instigated by immigration issues and our desire to be able to enter the United States, to visit during the summers and maybe, though probably not, someday move there, as a family.

Life is not a fairy tale, but when we met, it did feel like one — at least for the first week. I was living in Guatemala City at the time and had gone to visit Lake Atitlan to spend several days quietly reflecting on 2011 and celebrating the start of 2012. My amazing friends in San Marcos, a Colombiano and Mexicana power hippie couple, basically set us up to house-sit together. There was only one bed. Those long, lazy, luxurious days were filled with cooking, eating, yoga, reading, writing (me), jewelry-making (him) and lovemaking (us).

Long story short, our daughter Jade was born in January 2013. A lot of my views have shifted over the past six years, and I no longer desired a white wedding. Although I am a supporter of the legalization of gay marriage, official matrimony just wasn’t a personal priority, much less holy matrimony in the Catholic Church in which both of us were raised. Upon registering and filing for Jade’s passport at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, I asked about my mate’s eligibility for a tourist visa. He’s a self-employed, cash-only, semi-hippie kind of guy who doesn’t have documentation to prove that he will not stay in the States and become a terrorist, so marriage was the logical next step.

We are summering in his home country, Colombia, where we recently filed all the requisite notorized, certified, translated, stamped, sealed and signed paperwork. Yesterday, the matrimonio civil took place before the Notaria, which is the Colombian equivalent of a Justice of the Peace. Ironically, in order to be allowed to marry, we had to pretend that we have no children. (Admitting that fact would involve even more paperwork, lawyers and fees, while not admitting it hurt no one and would not be traceable, since our baby’s birth is only registered in Guatemala and the U.S.)

Although we’d hadn’t planned any big fanfare around the event, his family naturally refused to let it go unnoticed. A million photos were taken, rice was thrown, meals were shared and everyone ate cake. As is apparently the tradition, we, the novios, said a few words at our lovely little reception. I choked out a gracias to my nueva familia before breaking into sobs while trying to gracefully express how fortunate I feel to have met and now married their son/brother/nephew/cousin.

Even though now I’m officially a señora, you can still call me señorita.

My own parents just celebrated their 35th anniversary last week, and they continue to be a great example of an enduring partnership that has weathered some pretty intense storms over the years. I solicited advice on cultivating a lasting, loving marriage from my friends. The consensus seems to be that compassion, communication and laughter are key. My husband (how weird it feels to write that!) and I are lucky to have much in common… we are vegetarians who will eat fish if we must; we are vociferous readers; we are laid-back; we are spiritual but not religious; we like to travel; and, most of all, we are co-parenting a precious little girl.

My top marriage advice tidbits come from two expat friends I met in Guatemala City. A few years ago, at his 36th wedding anniversary party, when asked what makes his marriage work, Phil said: “It’s not easy. You take it day by day, moment to moment.”

And the other day, in response to my inquiry, “What makes for a lasting, loving marriage?” Kat poetically reminded me:

Live in that question tomorrow and the next day and the next day and you will have a lasting and loving marriage It can only deteriorate if you view it as something you did or have. Treat your relationship as a living being and it will continue to grow!

And thus, they lived happily ever after… in a non-fairy-tale, day-to-day, moment-to-moment, Middle Path kind of way!

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