Archive for December, 2011

12/31/2011

Marriage Minded or Marriage Material…?

“I could see her staring at me from across the room, with her make up well done, hair and nails primped, dress well tight and fitted, with a soft smile and impish eyes both so inviting. I could also see the look in her face as she pondered her feelings for me. It was as if her thoughts were etched on her forehead for all to see:

“I really like him but I wonder…Is he marriage minded like me? Is he really marriage material?”

Boy, it’s one of those questions that each gender inevitably asks of the opposite sex in a relationship. It is not a funny thing though when BOTH terms get confused and used them interchangeably, leading to all sorts of unpleasant fireworks.

Now, I know a fair amount of folks out there in the minefield that is single and dating who are marriage minded. Yes, there are still people out there who believe in the sanctity of marriage. A true holy union when two becomes one, even though it can be a bumpy road at times when such fusion is ongoing. Yes, some of these folk still view marriage in the traditional sense that divorce isn’t really an option and it is imperative to work through things as best as possible.  Some of us might say: what are these fools thinking? I do have the right in leaving a marriage and getting a divorce if things aren’t working out for me. Yes, legally and emotionally, I agree. People have the right to get a divorce as they see fit. The elders that I have talked to who are in  successful marriages have told me that it is finding a balance between the marriage itself, the needs of your spouse and your own pursuits.

The stats don’t lie: here in the US about 3.6 – 5% of marriages end every year. Money problems and adultery are the top 2 marriage killers (just as they are in all relationship types). This begs the question: with such a high divorce rate, how do we tell who is marriage minded and who is marriage material?

Truth be told there are many folks are marriage minded but are as marriage material worthy as Bernie Madoff as a viable candidate to either post as Minister of Finance or Secretary of the US Treasury. On the flip side, some folks are marriage material but aren’t marriage minded. Such a predicament! Hence why navigating these walking land mines in the world of single and dating is more action packed and treacherous than any Call of Duty Modern Warfare mission.

I think a lot of the confusion has come about based on the change in perception of the institute of marriage. It was once seen as this final be-all end-all social contract that we were all raised to embark on, whether we were fit to be hitched to someone else or now. Now based on things such as the divorce rates, people don’t necessarily share the same zest for marriage as our parents or some of the marriage minded zealots’ posses.

But it is really about a different outlook on marriage itself, as opposed to a change in the expectations of what comes along with saying “I do want to spend my life with you” to another human being?

The unfortunate thing is that some folks feel that once the rings are exchanged and the white dress is put on that things will instantly become better after the honeymoon is over. Now some of us are fortunate enough to be in marriages where it seems like the love is always new and they are still on honeymoon. But for the majority of us working through the crests and swells of any relationship, it takes a lot more work to keep the martial ship (or any other relationship vessel for that matter) on course.

One big thing that has gotten devalued due to the change on how we view marriage as a contemporary society is the courtship process. As mentioned in the “Dating Game: Full of Smoke” entry a while back, people in those days seemingly dated causally with lesser expectations and saved all the threshing out of personalities to assess marriage material for the courtship. Courtships used to take years, and it was common place to hear people talk about knowing each other for EONS in total in comparison to how long they have been actually married. Such a long courtship was a proving ground for all the much of the baggage to be sorted out and for a way of being together with someone to be determined. Still, even such long courtships weren’t perfect ways to determine marriage material. It was always tough to see when those long courting dances didn’t end up into marriage though, as one person may have been not marriage material while the other was quite marriage minded.

So how you do find out where you stand – are you marriage material or marriage minded? Well, it may be best to take a moment to sit down and take stock of where you are in life, what you want and what are your priorities. Not everyone is perfect, and even celebrities fall prey to this one as well – they are just better at keeping some their warts and missteps out of the public eye. Still once you find the answers to these tough questions then it becomes seeing if you can be what you want in order to find who you are looking for.

12/30/2011

Handling The Truth

“Always speak the truth, think before you speak, and write it down afterwards.”Lewis Carroll 1832-1898

12/29/2011

Sins of the Past

 “I can’t go back to yesterday – because I was a different person then.”Lewis Carroll 1832-1898

One of the hardest things to do is to try to right past wrongs. The truth this what once a wrong is done, it cannot be undone, and what we are really left to do is to do some form of damage control or to make sure that error isn’t committed in the future. Still the quote above often reminds me why it can be hard to move on from certain things, and why some people can become stuck where they are and not be open to doing the right thing.

Relationships are the trickiest area in which having one foot in the past and one foot in the future can often mess up the present. Each one of us tends to bring some bags into any relationship and it is how we choose (or not) to handle them can often strengthen or destroy what we may be trying to be with the person we are dating currently. Still, it is often important to use hindsight in the correct way, and a part of this means taking a serious look at the person we were at the time of our misstep to see where we were then, where we are now and what if anything has changed.

Some missteps say with us. Whether it be walking out on someone thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else, only to find you left where the grass was indeed the greenest and can no longer return there. Or how about trying to have your cake and eat it and when all secrets are revealed you are left holding an empty plate and being labeled a pig. It is not easy to really take what we need to know from those moments and move forward because the feelings of the moment – shame, anger, sadness, hurt and embarrassment (among others) are often the ones that resonate with us the most.

In talking to many elders and based on my own experiences, the wise are often those who can reflect positively on the sins of past and to embrace those lessons as they try to move forward and be better people. They have found ways to keep their feelings and ego tied into those times when they made mistakes in relative perspective in order to see clearly the lessons in their missteps.

Have you ever royally fucked up in any situation and had that moment where things just level out? I’m talking about that one where the true epiphany shows up, where you fully feel the gravity of the moment including the realization of what happens and the lesson in the situation? Isn’t it kinda like one of those moments where everything slows down and every thought that you have just makes sense and you KNOW it. Well, those moments are great and all, but the wise will say that they’re often the smaller part of the lesson – it is how things are applied that really makes a difference going forward.

Let’s face, it, no one is every proud of a mistake. We don’t go around saying “boy I can remember clearly how a cheated on _____. Man the cheating what fun but it was shitty when I got caught.” But, what the wise take humility in is knowing how manage their sins of the past and to use those teaching moments to not only avoid the same mistakes but how to better manage the situation going forward. Life isn’t always about what NOT to do, but knowing what TO DO in a given circumstance is just as paramount.

12/28/2011

Small Axe Power

“The drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.”Hugh Latimer 1485-1555

12/27/2011

Human Ingenuity

“Necessity who is the mother of invention.”Plato 427 – 347 BC

By now, everyone has heard this phrase in some way shape or form. It such a powerful testament to how creative humans are, especially in times of crisis or need. Anyone who knows me really well will tell you I like learning about new things and often watch a wide range of programs on TV to find interesting nuggets. One series I’ve taken to these days for some interesting tidbits is called “Bizarre ER” on Discovery’ Fit and Health channel. Basically the show follows ERs across England as medical staff deal with some of the most literally bizarre injuries around. In each episode, there is often a story where the person was very close to death to due to the nature of a bizarre injury and the doctors were able to not only save the person but often return them to as close to normal functioning as they were pre functioning.

I mean, these medical staff does some tremendous things at the hospitals highlighted. I’ve learned about skin and muscle grafts from areas such as the back and thighs, how they can take a toe and fashion it into a thumb, how a tongue can be replaced, and how a foot (from the lower ankle downwards) can be salvaged to rebuild a hand. Now this is NOT a show for the squeamish, but putting that stuff aside it is amazing what modern medicine can do.

Now as someone whose 9-5 does involve working in the healthcare system – even though as a youth developer I do a lot of community outreach – it is always amazing to marvel at some of the ways in which we can problem solve in different areas. It’s a tremendous reminder that our ability to problem solve is one of the greatest assets that makes us human.

Motivation is indeed a powerful thing. That is why it is often helpful whenever we are trying to achieve our goals and dreams for us to sit down and put in the work by really figuring out what we want first before we go chasing after the prize. Law enforcement are often amazed to at how well constructed some criminal enterprises are. I can remember clearly a few years ago reading a story about a minisub that drug smugglers use to move shipments into the US and in Colombia. When law enforcement made the bust they were startled at how effective this method of shipping drugs were, and wouldn’t have discovered it without someone rating out the operation.

Now whenever people see ingenuity for criminal enterprise, the first comment is usually: “if they were so creative doing harm, can you imagine what they could do if the talents were turned for good?” I often scoff at that statement – not because I don’t understand and agree with the logic on some level, but because it is so filled with such biased assumptions. People often forget that for each successful invention in their home, at least 50 ideas that may have been just as good that didn’t make it to market. So who is to say that some of these criminals didn’t try legal enterprise and not find it successful? Plus, if the priority is literal survival being threatened, legal consequences are often forced to take a back seat. While you may not agree with their motivation, you can understand why they’ve made those choices.

So it always boils down to managing both intent and motivation. If we can tap into those things consistently, there are no mountains that we cannot move.

12/26/2011

The Road Best Traveled…

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll 1832-1898.

12/25/2011

The Joys of Giving

“One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.” Lewis Carroll 1832-1898

12/24/2011

It’s A Man’s World: Building a Life

Learning how to build a life with someone is a life long process. Ok – so that was really redundant. Still, it is worth saying because I often hear the old lament by some women: “where are the good men? There aren’t any to be found, they’re either gay or married”. I often laugh my ass off every time I hear that comment as I wonder:  “where are all the good women too? Do some of these women looking for a good man even KNOW WHAT he looks like?”

As people have heard me say on thing blog before, the dating relationship dynamics have changed dramatically over the last few years. Because of how things are going, both men and women are seeking for more ready-made partners in order to secure a better chance at the life of their dreams. Often times, this will come in the form of an older partner (more often than not male). Some thoughts behind taking such an approach is that since the person is older, they are more likely to be mature and have things in place needed to build a life successfully. The youth on the part of the younger partner (more often than not female), is that zest for life, better looking, and possibly better child-bearing prospects.

If it’s the younger male/older female dynamic, it’s more often that not the exuberance and the ability to attract the older woman on the part of the younger male, and the security in self and the ability to still be alluring that may be in play on the part of the older female.

The problem with using such an approach is that since people want a ready-made person, we have lost the skills to what we have told is the ability to “work with someone” or “invest in them” in the right way. Part of such an investment would mean working on a person’s individual flaws too, which it would seem that many of us are developing a high level of abhorrence to.

So what are the “good men” looking for these days? Well, every guy’s short list is unique, but it comes back to that term that summarizes things: is a woman who can “work with them”. I think that this is one of the few things that sometimes women can have a hard time in understanding as they deal with the male creature.

It often cracks me up to hear some women talk about not being able to find “a good man”. The truth of the matter is that there are many good men out there who are single, hard-working, devoted, very responsible, ambitious and available. The reason why they’re invisible to those “good men seeking women” is that they do have some flaws that may not immediately make them “the ideal man”. The real crux of the matter is that for some women, what they call a “good man” is the “ideal man”. So the question is: what really are your priorities?

I’ve seen relationships ruined because the woman was too “nitpicky”, wanting it all to be perfect when she herself was far from it. For example, maybe he is merely OK or so-so in the sack, when what she’s looking for is Don Juan or Joe Grind every night. Maybe he is good at making money, but not so good at managing it. Maybe he doesn’t express his affections as well as he should, even though you can tell he is a caring person.

So…if he is PERFECT for you, but you are FLAWED for him because you are too busy enjoying how perfect for you he is, how long do you really think that such a relationship will last? Now everyone wants to be romanced throughout their relationship, but there comes a time when those initial new relationship feel hormones wear off and it boils down to what the love is made of. All relationships are work, and I think that is the one thing that some women either forget about, or are unwilling to do because of their own reasons. Yes, even the romance has to be worked on too and if one person feels that it’s the other person’s responsibility to do ALL or MOST of the work, then that’s a relationship that won’t end well right there.

Here are some traits a good man may be looking for in a partner:

Someone who can keep it real. Yes, this doesn’t mean always critiquing or piling on him; the whole “telling a guy what he is not doing seemingly all the time” kinda spiel doesn’t work. There is a good chance that the guy’s mother is very proficient at doing that and hearing more of that from his partner certainly doesn’t help matters. What is really needed is to know when to be brutally honest to get him out of a rut, and know when to tap him on the shoulder and encourage him in a positive way. Honestly, talking at a guy by piling on is the QUICKEST way to get in the doghouse of many men. Not everybody is perfect and men learn through trial and error in a different way than women do. Anytime a man finds a woman who can understand this one very clearly, he usually tries to keep her in his life in some way shape or form.

Someone who is understands the difference between help, use, and abuse. Let’s face it, a lot of times a woman will get her way in the relationship. That’s almost a given. The truth though is that some women are in it to get as much as they can out of the guy by having their way ALL the time. While women are notorious for their responses once they find out that they’re getting used, men aren’t that far behind in how callous they can react to such treatment. When a man feels like he can’t get no peace in his life – whether there is no peace at work or at home – he will often go find somewhere that he can get at least minimum temporary relief.

Someone who has goals. This can be a tricky one, but it is a great trait to have. Many men want an active partner…someone who can help them do some of the lifting as they build a life as oppose to being another thing the guy has to lift and deal with. What makes this tricky is that there are times both sexes can cross the line from helping each other achieve their goals to using their partner to merely get ahead in life. That’s one of those things that is often managed and worked on throughout a healthy relationship…each works to push and positively support each other. Still a motivated woman and or a woman who knows how to get things done are always attractive to many men.

Someone who is dependable. I love this one as here dependability means that he can trust your perspective when he is talking to you about stuff. There are some women who have always made the perfect confidant because they know how to listen. Many men value that trait so highly you wouldn’t believe. Listening doesn’t mean you are telling them what to do all the time and how to do things. Actively listening actually means that you can sift through what they guy is saying and provide meaningful insight. It is a very endearing quality that if men find it in a woman, there is a good chance she will be in his life for a long time.

So ladies, the question is: how good are you in any of these areas? There are a fair amount of men out there who do know what their strengths and flaws are and are actively looking for someone who can balance them out as they try to build a life. Some level of introspection is necessary on both parties. A woman can know all there is to know about men, but if she doesn’t have what he’s looking for, her prospects can be grim, and vice versa. At the end of the day, when building a life some men want to know that the one they partner up with is both in it for the long haul and is willing to put in the work to make the relationship worthwhile.