What a crazy question that is. I mean, clearly relationships matter.
But when did you personally comprehend that?
Sociologists and other people with way more letters behind their name than me have studied this extensively and probably could show us all the hard data. But human experience pretty much tells us all we need to know.
And the extent to which they matter is reflected in how we invest in them and gain mutual value. When we actually become aware of this varies greatly from person to person.
I’m 51. I am keenly aware of my draw toward deep cavernous relationships and have been for quite some time. The older I get, the more I want the majority of my time invested in those types of relationships. I don’t think, though, I comprehended any of this in my 20s, at least not to the extent I came to realize it in my 30s, 40s and now 50s.
2020 schooled us in relationships, didn’t it? Refined us and tested us and revealed to us copious unspokens about the health of our relationships.
Some relationships clearly matter more to us than others, and we make judgment calls all the time about that. Maybe the pandemic clarified or quickened our decisions. Or maybe it compelled us into long hard reflective pauses. At any rate, it’s the hypothetical, “If you were on a remote island and could pick only 2-10 people to be there with you, who would you choose?”
And I’m going with the assumption all your needs and many of your wants are available on that remote island, so don’t go picking people for their survival skills. We’re going to assume everyone has a Swiss Army knife, knows how to start a fire, can find and cook good food and can reasonably MacGyver their way around the island.
Who would you pick to be in that tropical paradise with you? It’s a nice clarifying question.
If we wanted a more serious spin, we’d switch gears from cocktails to crises, and we’d ask, “If you were in crisis, who would you want there?” This is the “2 a.m.” clarifier. My friend Pam says it’s way more revelatory to ask who would you call at 2 a.m. rather than who could you call. There are a lot of people I could call. I can count on one hand the people I would call.
When did you learn relationships matter? Sure, we subconsciously are processing this from day one, so maybe a better question is, “When did you consciously connect the dots that the quality of your most-valued relationships is directly related to the effort you and the other person put in?
As someone who speaks and writes on marriage and sexual intimacy, obviously I have more than a passing interest in encouraging married people to pour into their marriages. I just see the potential! If I can help others see it too in their own lives, that’s sweet.
Think about your marriage right now. Give stock to what makes you feel grateful about that relationship; also be honest about where there is room for growth.
This is good healthy reflection that may just compel us to lean in and work for more depth and connection. I know one person can’t do it alone, but I also know that sometimes when we tweak things for the better individually, there is then a positive overflow on to the relationship as a whole.
Food for thought, for sure.
Copyright 2021, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.