What Matters More Than Your Relationships?

the most important things are not things

(Image/esterpartegas.com)

As a child dreaming about the future, I imagined myself in life scenarios I believed would make me happy.

I dreamed of being an adult. Independent! Freedom to do whatever I want with my own money! I thought going to a job and being paid for my time would be better than going to school and hanging out with my friends every day. I thought having my own house would be better than living with adults who could restrict my choices. I thought having my own money would be better than my parents financially fulfilling life needs and occasionally just giving me some.

I dreamed of owning a big house. I won’t even want to go on vacation if I live in paradise every day! I didn’t know I was hopelessly incapable of keeping even an average-sized three-bedroom house clean and properly maintained on my own. I didn’t know about hedonic adaptation, and how we all adjust to every positive life change over time, and then it stops feeling as awesome as when it first happened or something was new. I didn’t know that could also happen to rich people who could buy anything they wanted.

I dreamed of fun things like having season tickets to all of my favorite Cleveland pro sports teams. I can go to every game! Awesome! I didn’t know how much I wouldn’t like hunting for parking spots downtown, or sitting outside in the cold for hours, or how watching games at home in 2016 would in many ways be a superior experience to driving to the stadium or arena; nor did I know how much my emotional attachment to my favorite teams would fade as life introduced me to new things to care about.

Some People Think Relationship Stuff is Dumb

They don’t care. It’s simply not on their radar.

I was out with friends recently. We were kicking around some important relationship ideas over beer and food when Jeff sitting to my left used a pause in the conversation to ask Ryan for his thoughts on the Batman v Superman movie. We all laughed and joked about Jeff’s less-than-subtle conversation pivot to something which didn’t bore him to death. But move on to comic-book movie discussion, we did.

One thought stuck with me: If Jeff’s wife ever decides to divorce him, he’s probably going to care so much more about the conversation we just had than he will about movies.

My divorce not only put me on the path to understanding how common human behavior leads people who were once in love to dislike each another so much that they’re willing to go through life’s second-most stressful event (according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale) in order to get away from their spouse; but also helped me achieve what I feel is a more appropriate and healthy perspective on life—one which prioritizes THINGS THAT MATTER.

Everyone will decide for themselves what matters to them. There are no universally right or wrong answers.

But there is strong evidence that most people are incorrect in their guesses about what will make them happy, and that elderly people who die slowly but alertly on their proverbial deathbeds express many of the same thoughts and regrets in their final hours of self-reflection.

How to Live a Regret-Free Life

A Hospice nurse interviewed several dying patients in an effort to compile commonly shared wisdom about how to live a life free of regret. Money, Career, Fame, Big houses, and Cheap sex were all conspicuously absent from the list, which actually looked like this:

1Live a life true to yourself; not the life others expect of you.

2. Don’t work so hard.

3. Express your feelings courageously.

4. Stay connected to friends.

5. Give yourself permission to choose happiness.

Perspective is really important.

That guy who just cut you off dangerously and rudely in traffic is a huge asshole who needs to learn how to drive, UNLESS we later discover he was rushing to a nearby hospital because his small child was undergoing emergency surgery and he didn’t know whether his little son or daughter would live or die.

When I was in my late teens and 20s, I despised “little-kid” things. Like Barney or The Wiggles or going to some elementary school performance where a bunch of kids who don’t know how to keep their shirts tucked in properly and are objectively terrible at singing and dancing are supposed to entertain me by singing and dancing.

You suck, little kids!, the younger me thought.

But then I became a dad. And watching his favorite kids’ shows is now (usually) a fun thing to do. Attending his little-kid school performances is (always) an absolute must.

Perspective.

Interview a hundred men and ask them what they want out of life, and a common refrain will be: “Success.”

Ask them to define Success, and you’ll get a bunch of different answers. I won’t pretend to know how other guys define it. I only know that it’s common to observe in men the tendency to avoid any activity or situation in which he perceives a high probability of failure—like how I’m afraid to go skiing in front of a bunch of strangers, or to play in a golf tournament if I don’t know what to expect from my swing after not playing for a while.

This Men Avoid Failure Thing is important in the context of a man’s marriage or dating relationships. Men often withdraw and/or actively avoid conflict in their relationships. We do this because our experience has taught us that we cannot succeed by having the hard relationship conversations. (Not because it’s not possible, but usually because we’re unskilled communicators lacking profoundly in the empathy department, so we just keep having the same fight over and over.)

Maybe that’s not just a guy thing. I don’t know.

Our Relationships Matter Most

I’ve written it a hundred times: I BROKE after divorce.

My head and body physically hurt. There was chest tightness and constant feelings of stress and anxiety that never really went away unless I was asleep or intoxicated. When I slept, I had bad dreams. When I drank, I blabbed constantly about divorce to both friends and strangers, and probably made everyone uncomfortable.

When your mind and body betray you every second of every day, NOTHING in life is good.

Work sucks. Parties suck. Dating sucks. Even spending time with your child sucks because it’s a constant reminder of your failings and the undeserved life sentence you just gave him.

Until I felt how true misery poisons, or at least clouds, every life experience, I never truly realized the importance of Mental, Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional health like I do now.

Mental health and addiction are huge factors in accidental deaths and suicides, and I’m woefully ignorant about and unqualified to discuss them.

But assuming some of these people took their own lives to simply get rid of the hurt, I think it’s a worthwhile exercise to realize that people who “succeed” and who are “loved” and who experience great fame and fortune and accolades ARE JUST LIKE US. Many of them had everything marked off on the Things I Believe Will Make Me Happy checklists shared by so many of us. But for reasons we can’t fully understand, they were so miserable they intentionally killed themselves or consumed enough drugs to end their lives.

Robin Williams. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Whitney Houston. Heath Ledger. Kurt Cobain. Hunter S. Thompson. Tony Scott. Ernest Hemingway. Marilyn Monroe. Junior Seau. Don Cornelius.

It’s staggering.

Until I first experienced true isolation, I never truly understood the critical role our human relationships play in our overall life experience. I’d taken it for granted every day because I’d always had it. In the context of our earthly lives, nothing is more important. You know it when it’s gone.

Perspective.

We neglect our intimate relationships and our families and our friendships in pursuit of “succeeding” at other things. Our jobs. Our hobbies. Our competitions.

And then sometimes we “succeed,” but no one’s around to share the success with.

And then sometimes we get old and die, lonely and afraid.

And perhaps all because of something as sneakily simple as HOW we thought about our relationships and what the word “success” really means.

Like many previous life lessons, it was one I had to learn the hard way. Maybe some others won’t have to.

Because it’s never too late to put our focus over there instead of over here.

Maybe that’s where we’ll find what we’re looking for.

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80 thoughts on “What Matters More Than Your Relationships?

  1. Linbo says:

    The older I get the more and more this is true. I recently read an article stating that the relationships you develop in high school and college are usually the most enduring because the amount of free time you get to spend with one another.
    Deep, meaningful adult relationships are hard to develop the older you get.
    Obligations and limited time, money and energy all restrict peoples ability to connect.
    All the more reason to make the efforts necessary to maintain the ones you have. Friendships, people who know you and love you, are incredibly important in having a good life.
    After all- having a good life doesn’t mean having an easy life.
    I think that is the joy of friendships- they walk with you when you’re poor or rich, when you just failed or you just kicked ass, when your looking great or when you gained 20 lbs or went bald. I guess that’s what they mean by the thick and thin, no?
    That, and relationships help make you a better person. if you didn’t have to consider other people, we would all just be hedonistic A-holes, out for ourselves…(but, then we could always run for president..:P!)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Really poignant, thoughtful stuff here, Lindsey.

      I always like when you read something and your brain goes “Of course, that’s why!”

      It’s not hard to observe the challenges of forming super-close relationships in adulthood (co-workers are the closest we have to people we spend as much time with as the people from our youth, but even that varies from profession to profession, and work environment to work environment).

      Putting energy into our already-existing friendships IS extremely important, and it scares me a little bit just how bad at it I really am. (Since thoughtful, regular communication must be involved!)

      Like

  2. geekdom says:

    I experienced something worse than what is listed on “The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale” when my 1st wife committed suicide (probably a combination of 4 out of the top 5 on the list). I would have traded more than 50 divorces for that. You get plenty of time for retrospection in the aftermath, and it leaves you with so much guilt, anger, depression – all the things you would experience in a divorce with a higher order of magnitude. And, my kids no longer have a mother – truly sad. Not a single day goes by in my life without some kind of thoughts about my past.
    But, I will say that at this point in my life “Life is Good”. It is because I live by the principles you stated on “how to live a regret-free life”. I spent so many years living how I thought others “expected” me to. All of these principles are important, and I would also add the you must set boundaries in order to achieve #5 – Give yourself permission to choose happiness”.
    And, most of all, don’t take relationships for granted.

    Like

    • Travis B. says:

      I’m speechless, and so, so sorry you had to endure such horror. I’m quite sure experiencing that would have driven me utterly mad. You’re a stronger man than me. Maybe it was because you had to be, since you had a child who surely needed you more than ever before. As a fellow parent, maybe that would afford me the necessary strength to find a way to carry on, too. I pray I never have to find out.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Linbo says:

      I echo Travis’ sentiment. That is a horrible experience to go through. I am glad you are seeing life as good at this point in time. That is hope in action. I hope you don’t mind if I sound too churchy, but the words “and hope does not disappoint” came to mind.
      Your wife may not have been able to see that (And I am really sorry), but by you continuing on and being willing to experience the pain you also have the hope to experience joy. (It can show up a thousand small ways everyday).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      It means a lot to me that you would share this story here.

      I can’t begin to understand how that must feel, and how difficult it would be to navigate, particularly with children.

      I’m really glad to read you’re in a “Life is Good” place today. Takes a lot of guts and mettle to get there, I would think.

      Thank you for taking the time to weigh in here. Here’s to you and your family, sir.

      Like

  3. zombiedrew2 says:

    I agree that measuring “success” is a very difficult and subjective thing. And it’s something that changes over time.

    I look at something like personal appearance. Personally I think we should always take some level of pride in our appearance, but at the end of the day (or your life as it may be), how important was it really if you were able to maintain your gym body or your bikini body?

    How important is it to work long hours if in the process you are missing out on moments with (and disconnecting from) the people you love?

    I think it’s important to understand what TRULY matters to you, and then live a life that reflects that.

    But often peoples actions in terms of where they spend their time and energy do not at all match what they *say* is important to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      This was one of those posts where I never quite made the point I’d set out to make, so I’m going to try again tomorrow, staying on this topic of “success.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        I hear you. I have a post on success that I started 2 years ago – and I still haven’t been able to figure out how to finish it in a way that feels right.

        Unrelated – how bout them cavs last night?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Matt says:

          If there was some kind of magical way to bottle that shooting percentage, I’d say we’d be the favorites to win it all.

          However:

          1. San Antonio’s defense would never allow such a thing.

          2. Golden State’s average shooting night (with Steph) isn’t too far off from that.

          3. Cleveland has a unique ability to have VERY Clevelandy things happen in big sports moments. So, we can all be pretty sure there will be a freak injury, or that the Cavs will shoot in the 20-percent range from 3, in the Finals, when it really matters.

          The Cavs in the Finals was always a foregone conclusion, I figured.

          Either the Spurs or the Warriors figure to win a series against the Cavs in six games or less.

          I truly believe whoever wins the Warriors-Spurs series beats the Cavs in five games.

          It hurts a little to say it. But it’s true.

          Liked by 1 person

          • zombiedrew2 says:

            Cavs are pretty much guaranteed a finals berth. And although I’m a long time Spurs fan, I have some concerns about their matchup with OKC.

            At the start of playoffs I didn’t think the Cavs had much chance to win it all. Now? I think Warriors, Thunder or Spurs will all give the Cavs fits in the finals – but the Cavs still have a legit chance.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Matt says:

              I agree. Always a chance in sports. Especially when you have three studs, one of whom may finish as the #2 all time.

              Just not going to hold my breath. Because I’ve seen this movie before. #cleveland

              Liked by 1 person

              • zombiedrew2 says:

                Yeah, they have a shot.

                Taking this back to relationship stuff for the moment, I’ve actually barely watched any basketball this year. And a big part of it is because I’ve taken the approach that time with my wife is more valuable.

                Really, we don’t get much time together. By the time the kids are in bed, we’ve got an hour – maybe two to spend together in the evening. Sometimes I stay up later than her (though I try to go to bed at the same time at least 3-4 times a week), and in those scenarios I’ll watch some basketball. But even if it’s a game I want to watch – those two hours are for her every night.

                It’s a different approach than I’ve taken in the past, as in prior years I would pretty much disappear for a few weeks when playoffs started

                Related to your post, it’s an issue of priorities. What REALLY matters to me? If I say it’s her and my kids, then maybe I should be ensuring that we have at least a bit of time for each other every night.

                I can always PVR the game, and catch highlights and box scores later. But there are no guarantees I’ll have those two hours all the time.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Matt says:

                  Whether it’s sports on TV, video games, work of some kind, or some type of league or social activity, I wish more men would think about what you just described and think about how applying it to their own lives might change their relationship and family dynamics for the better.

                  It’s awesome that you’re mindfully making that choice, Drew.

                  Walking the walk.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • zombiedrew2 says:

                    My most popular post is titled Forever is Now. I wrote it around a year ago after my father in law died, giving me a reminder that tomorrow is never guaranteed. It relates very much to what I perceive to be one of the main intents of this post.

                    The basic idea is, forever doesn’t just happen. If we want our relationships to last “forever” we need to build that into them through our actions, each and every day.

                    I’ve been trying to live that for a few years now.

                    Check it out if you get a chance. It’s a pretty short read and I think you would appreciate the message (https://thezombieshuffle.com/2015/07/22/forever-is-now/).

                    Like

      • Travis B. says:

        This conversation is the closest this blog has gotten back to it’s “by a dude, for dudes” roots in a long time, LOL. That said, I’m bored to tears by it. Anyone excited about the new STAR TREK movie coming out this summer? ;-)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Matt says:

          “Excited” isn’t the right word. Seeing Civil War this weekend is going to be awesomer, methinks. That said, I’ll for sure see the new Star Trek in XD with my 3D glasses, geeking out with the other sci-fi nerds.

          Like

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Hey Travis, I tried to bring it back to the blog theme even before I saw your comment.

        I’m with Matt on Civil War though. I was always more Star Wars than Star Trek. Really enjoyed the Star Trek reboot a few years back, thought Into Darkness was pretty good, but not great. The trailers for the new one however haven’t done much for me.

        Superheroes though? Yeah, although I’m a DC guy at heart the Marvel movies have been killing it. Winter Soldier is easily my favorite, and this seems a worthy follow up.

        My wife and I have two boys, 9 and 11. And the three boys are thinking of taking my wife to Civil War on mothers day. I feel kind of like Homer buying Marge a bowling ball, but she really likes the Marvel movie universe as well, so I think she would enjoy it. That said, I’ll suggest it instead of just surprising her with it as I don’t want Mothers Day to be about stuff that I want to do – it’s kinda supposed to be HER day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        On one hand, I’m very excited about CIVIL WAR because Captain America is my favorite Avenger (and to completely shut down the dialog about BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN, which I refuse to see after the character-insulting abomination that was MAN OF STEEL, once and for all), but on the other hand, these Marvel movies are starting to feel like commercials. Give it a few seconds and here comes the next one. I think a bit of (to stay on blog point) a bit of hedonistic adaptation is starting to set in with them, LOL…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Deepa says:

    I needed to read this today! I’m at a crossroads, choosing to prioritise between things and a relationship. The choice is even more obvious now. Thanks Matt:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tina says:

    Choosing to prioritize relationships is only part of it though, Matt, don’t you think? I know some one who does pour their all into relationships – so long as they are new. But once the reality and work of choosing the same person every day sets in they start looking for some new to give them that new relationship high. And its friends as well as romantic partners. They say every time that this will be the one – they are ready to settle down they want a long term relationship. They’ve never met someone who is so cool to hang out with, who just “gets” them, etc. But they keep going from one person to the next leaving all kinds of emotional wreckage in their wake.

    Like

    • Linbo says:

      Here’s another ugly side to it,too-especially for people like me who are afraid of “losing people”- we are maybe willing to sustain relationships that we shouldn’t. I have relationships that have power dynamics I don’t like. But I tolerate it because I know I need relationship. It’s not that I can’t be alone, I like my own company just fine- it’s because I believe in the value of long term friendships. But having wrong relationships just sucks with a capital S.U.C.K.

      Like

      • Donkey says:

        Lisa,

        About the slut shaming: Like you say, despite your best efforts, the messages that kids absorb these days! Golly! Sounds like you did a great job handling that.

        Reading about your parenting/maturing process reminds me of something my differentiation man David Schnarch said (I’m paraphrasing): Everyone wants the results you get from growing up, but no one wants to go through the process. I can relate to that for sure. 8)

        You said: “I think of you as a mysterious Western European princess like Audrey Hepburn in the classic movie Roman Holiday, Princess by day, helping commoners with your advice by night”

        Wheeeeeee, thank you so much, lol! It’s probably quite silly of me, but I truly felt so happy and flattered by that. I won’t ruin your fun by describing my current outfit. 8) (But as far as I know, I don’t have any royal blood, sorry. :/)

        I was wondering about something. I thought I remembered something Gottman said/wrote about solving conflicts/removing the negatives isn’t enough to build love/have a happy marriage? Does that ring any bells for you? I couldn’t find it myself (but I didn’t look THAT hard either). Please don’t feel any pressure to find out for me, but you have such a good grasp of his stuff that I thought you might already know. 8)

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Donkey, If yall have a party- I want to be invited… ; D!

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        …do you happen to reside somewhere in Europe Linbo? :) (Sadly for me, most of you good folks are in the States)

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        I dont think I knew that, Donkey. Can I ask which part?
        Yep, I’m stateside. But, it’s just a trip over the pond, right: )…I’m just joking, I always love parties, so had to comment on your reference. :)

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        …somewhere in Western Europe. And more north than south I would say. 8)

        Where, roughly, in the USA are you? I think the commenters and Matt should have a get together somewhere in the States. I know it’s a big country, but even so. I could join you via Skype, and y’all could take turns carrying the computer around so I too could involve myself with the crowd. :)

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Dont like to name, names? Eh, Donkey?
        Can you tell me if your country speaks a different language?
        (I will get to the bottom of this!) :)

        I really love the idea of a MBTTTR get together, too. But, we’d have to definitely get you over here for the fun. We couldnt leave you in bitter old Europe, all alone! ..
        (Not that Europe is bitter, but it is old!)
        ..:)

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Yes, we speak a different language in my country. You can safely rule out the UK. 8)

        You somehow…. forgot to mention what part of the States you’re in? :P Perhaps I’m not the only one not wanting to name names? 8)

        (Hihihi, this is fun!)

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Oops- I posted in the wrong place. Since I cant cut and paste, I’ll just recap.
        I’m not giving up the info, until I am fairly certain your info is on the up and up. Kapeesh? (I’ve always wanted to say that :) .

        2nd question- Do you guys party all night or are you in bed by 9?

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        I am going to guess you live in The Netherlands because it would be lovely with all those tulips. And tulips are my favorite flower so you should be the Princess of tulips!

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Tulips do sound a little right, but I’ve got 20 more questions over here. No fair guessing so fast! ..;)
          I’m still waiting to hear if Donkey spends her days on the beach, eats dinner at 10 pm and parties all night. (I’m having some doubts on this, but ask I must!)

          Like

      • Donkey says:

        I rarely eat dinner at 10pm.
        I do not party all night. I often stay up way past my bedtime on the computer though. 8)

        The beach…. now if I admitted to sometimes being at the beach you could pull out a globe and see which countries have a coast line couldn’t you. So I may, or I may not, sometimes spend time at the beach. 8)

        All this interest in my personal information, I feel so special, wheee! Ok, I’ve admitted to west and more north than south. How about you Linbo and you Lisa disclose something similar? North, south, east west, central? Lot of beach time for you guys? :p

        I am a bit worried that if I share too many personal details, combined with some personal stories and opinions, that people who know me who happen to come across this site could put all the pieces together (I’m aware they probably have other more interesting things going on in their lives, but still).

        I don’t think I’ve said anything too terrible here, so many people I wouldn’t really mind figuring it out…but there was that time for instance where I admitted I sometimes wished a family member could just die so I would be free of the difficulties (I don’t think it all the time, just sometimes when I’m very upset, and I wouldn’t blame them if they thought the same thing about me!).

        Can you imagine if that person figured out who Donkey really is and asked if I was talking about them? What would I say?! “Err, no?” :p

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Donkey,
        Ah, I see. Sorry to put you on the spot. (And you did say more north than south, so my line of questioning was TOTALLY off : )…
        If we still want to guess: the state I live in is in the coastal, southwest region and we often say “ya’ll” . …
        As far as your relative. I feel that way about one of mine as well. It’s not malicious, it’s just sort of “maybe that would be best.” But, yeah, I wouldn’t want them to know that I have thought that. ..;)

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        No worries! (You guys have way more people in your country than I have in mine, so even though I’m probably a bit too paranoid and self obsessed, if someone knows the country, AND they know me, it would become much easier for them to put the pieces together. 8))

        Ok, geography is NOT my strong suit, and I don’t know how you guys classify things, but I’m looking at a map here To me, southwest and coastal would mean Southern California. But I can’t imagine people saying “y’all” there, as a general rule.

        I would definitely believe that people say “y’all” in Texas, but only the western part of Texas seems southwestern to me. But that’s not where the coastline is. :P Donkey is confused. Where Texas has a coastline seems way more… southcentral than southwest to my eyes. But imma go with Texas for now. 8)

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Yay! You win! Sadly I have no actual prize for you other than now you can confirm you are a highly intelligent person!! (But, we already knew that ; )
          I consider the whole state of Texas to be “Southwest” as compared to the more eastern states (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.)
          ..So if English isnt your primary language, do you have any trouble interpreting our meaning? The US has differing vernaculars in itself, much less compared to the UK.
          How do you feel about states named “Mississippi”? It must sound a bit Dr. Seuss like.
          (Do you know about Dr. Seuss?) .

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        Instead of telling us where you live (which I understand wanting privacy) perhaps you could tell us the story of why your screen name is Donkey. Are you a fan of Shrek? Did you have a pet donkey as a child? Are you fascinated with all farm animals? Does donkey mean something else in your native language? What is this mysterious donkey connection?

        Please tell if it’s not too personal.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Donkey says:

        Yay! Thank you for the compliment Linbo, you are sweet!

        So, you just narrowed down your identity to about… one in 13,5 million people, if there are around 27 million in Texas and half of them are women. :p But if your real name is Lindsey that would narrow it down further. You brave soul! I definitely believe there are fewer Lindseys in Texas than there are women in my country.

        “So if English isnt your primary language, do you have any trouble interpreting our meaning? The US has differing vernaculars in itself, much less compared to the UK”

        I’m not quite sure what you mean, and I realize, that could be your answer right there :p

        Do you mean English in general? Reading it, or hearing it spoken? Or if I have difficulties understanding various forms of slang or dialects?

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Hehe, if I tell the details of the Donkey name, many people who know me and stumbled across this site would recognize me (even just saying this makes me nervous, lol).

        But here’s the gist of it: I’m fond of donkeys, I think they’re cute. The name has little to do with my derriere, as you once hinted at Lisa! ;)

        I also had this idea at first of wanting a gender neutral identity, but that plan fell to pieces quickly. And honestly, calling yourself donkey doesn’t seem very dude-like anyhow.

        I’ll reveal another thing….I live in a constitutional monarchy! That narrows it down quite a bit. I feel a bit silly saying this to you, my American friends. We’re really a democracy, I promise (that’s what they tell us at least), we have elections and everything. :p

        Our royal family is mostly for show, but I think a lot of people just feel kind of sentimental and warm and fuzzy about them. And since they aren’t really doing much harm (that we know of at least), we just kind of haven’t been bothered yet to kick them to the curb and make an honest republic of ourselves. I’m guessing a lot of the time the royal family wouldn’t mind retiring themselves either.

        So Lisa, where do you live? Will you allow a 20 questions kind of thing? :)

        It’s so fun making friends from across the pond!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linbo says:

        Donkey,
        Revealing my identity would have little consequences for me. Nobody would really care. That is the positive and negative thing about living in America. We have all this autonomy and independence, which means nobody really pays attention to what someone else is doing- they are too busy with their own stuff.

        I meant the English dialects. (But do you read/speak English or are you using some kind of translator?)
        If I said “What up?” would you know what I was saying?
        I think I have developed a sort of “valley-girl” vernacular as of late (i.e. saying “like” in inappropriate places: I was totally, like, upset with this person.) and that comes out in what I am writing. So, I want to apologize and will make more of an effort to sound like a rational human being :). And, along the same lines if the previous discussion is really making you uncomfortable, we can just go on to something else entirely.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Donkey said,

        “And honestly, calling yourself donkey doesn’t seem very dude-like anyhow.”

        No, we usually default to letting our wives call us “asses”. (*snort, chuckle*)

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Hey Linbo, you have not said anything to make me uncomfortable.

        I’m sure some of your friends would be very interested to know your opinions/thoughts that you express here though. 8) And I’m perhaps exaggerating in my mind the interest folks around me would have in everything I write here.

        I understand spoken English very well. If you said what up, I would definitely understand you. I watch American shows all the time and it’s not a problem. Valley girl vernacular is not a problem either. 8) I mean, you could probably put me in a room with a person with a heavy Scottish accent or some such thing and I would struggle. But I sometimes struggle with dialects in my own language as well. 8) But, if it’s been a while since I’ve heard very posh British English or something like that, it can take me a little while to get comfortable. I probably understand English dialects as well as someone with English as their native language but who isn’t among the most…. verbally gifted, lets go with that. 8)

        I don’t use a translator. Honestly, I read English almost as easily as I read my own language. I probably read more books in English than I do in [insert Donkey’s native language]. I’m reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan now. 8) Perhaps Travis has read that series?

        We learn English in school, and just as importantly, there are SO many American and British TV shows and so much American and British music that we’re surrounded by, so most people have a decent grasp of it. A lot of the vocabulary just gets absorbed that way. In addition to that, I’m a verbal gal with a good ear for languages, and I love reading. So it becomes a positve cycle. :)

        Writing in English is also relatively easy for me, though not as easy as reading it, and I do not do it as well or as easily or quickly as in my own language. Speaking it is about the same for me as writing it. At the MBTTTR party that will hopefully happen sometime in the future, it will not be a problem to talk with y’all. You can say “like” and “what up” as many times as you want. 8)

        Did you grow up in Texas Linbo?

        Sine you’ve joined the conversation Travis, I would love to hear where you’re situated, should you feel like sharing. 8)

        Like

    • Matt says:

      I want to be careful how I word this because I don’t want my meaning to be lost.

      But I’m VERY MUCH this way. I am energized by meeting new people. If I’m in a room with 20 people, and I know 17 of them, I will spend the most time trying to get to know the three strangers. I have always been this way.

      I tried to make the new kid feel welcome at school. I was the guy at the college keg parties who introduced myself to the new groups of people walking in, making sure they found cups, and introducing them to people they might want or need to know.

      It’s just kind of my thing.

      In the world of Gallup’s StrengthsFinder personality profiles, this has a name, which I’ve only known for about a year: WOO, and acronym for “winning others over.”

      It is my #2 overall defining personality trait out of the 36 different ones.

      Here is a little snippet from my report (done for professional reasons as part of my entreprenurial side business with a couple of partners):

      “Matt sincerely enjoys ~and gets energy from~ meeting new people and making connections. He wants people to like him. He’s rarely at a loss for words. He excels at breaking the ice. The problem is that there are always people to meet, new crowds to mingle in. He’s going to try to meet them all.”

      This is NOT about inauthenticity. This is NOT about boredom. This is NOT about liking people I already know any less than I did before.

      It’s simply that I like meeting new people, and because of A. Increasing time constraints as my life gets busier, and B. ADHD, I can come off bored and aloof to people who I very much care about.

      This is the thing that causes me more personal problems than anything else in life. I do NOT want to make anyone feel bad, and none of this is done with me thinking “Oh, that person doesn’t matter to me anymore because I’m bored with them, so I’m purposefully going to go do this other thing, and I don’t care about their feelings.”

      It’s fundamentally no different than the Husband Accidentally Hurting Wife Thing, which I’ve come to understand hurts worse for a lot of people than being hurt in a more upfront and direct kind-of way.

      I don’t know why I felt the need to share all that.

      I just want to raise my hand when I see myself as being part of the problem.

      If this manifests itself in some sort of sexual way, where a person gets bored with monogamy, and then cheap sex and/or infidelity and/or dishonesty and/or refusing to commit is damaging their romantic relationships, then I see it as being a bigger problem than my personality quirks.

      Because it’s dumb to divorce or break up a long-term relationship over “boredom” if the plan is to enter ANOTHER long-term relationship. Because “boredom” NEVER stops.

      Thanks for the thought-provoking comment, Tina.

      Like

      • Donkey says:

        Matt, it’s so fascinating to learn about how different people operate. :) You’d be a great match for many people to co-host a party/event with, as you could do the job of making all the folks feel comfortable. It’s a great skill! If you teamed up with somene who’s awesome at and enjoys organizing all the little things required for the party beforehand but perhaps is more comfortable with a quiet conversation with their oldest friend in the room during the actual party, that would be a winning combination!

        You said: “It’s fundamentally no different than the Husband Accidentally Hurting Wife Thing, which I’ve come to understand hurts worse for a lot of people than being hurt in a more upfront and direct kind-of way”.

        This may be drilled into you by now, but if not, I just want to be clear: The unintentional part can be ok (though of course no one wants to be hurt, but life isn’t perfect) and often preferable… the FIRST time the hurtful thing happens! It’s when someone keeps hurting us (us= people who feel the same way as me) over and over even if they’ve been told that it hurts us, that the unintentional variety is worse a lot of the time. It’s the over and over again that is the problem (and the mindset that goes with it, and the mindfucking that happens).

        If you leave a dish by the sink, unintentionally hurting your wife, but the first time (or at least very soon) she brings it to your attention you go “Babe, I didn’t realize that would hurt your feelings, let’s figure out a system that can work for us both”. THAT uintentional hurt would be better than if you left that dish there wanting to hurt her (Dick), or if you straight up told her that you hear that she’s hurt, but you’re not going to consider her feelings in this whatever they may be, you’ll just keep doing what you want (Bill)!

        But if she brings it to you 500 times and you still feel that you’re not hurting her on purpose so she should let it go, or that she’s wrong, obviously you know better than her what’s true and real in her emotional reality so you’ll just keep doing your thing which just happens to coincide with your own preferences, while still insisting you’re such a great and considerate spouse, and insisting that she sees you as a great and considerate spouse? Or that you get that you hurt her but it was really unintentional and innocent even though she told you 500 times, not any inherent selfishness there at all? Yeah, to me that’s usually worse than Bill, and sometimes even Dick.

        But again, the take away point is that (in the vast majority of the cases) it’s only worse when it happens over and over even when you’ve told the other person that it hurts you.

        And again, everyone is capeable of being Steve. I’ve been Steve sometimes too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        I’m responding to your comment about my daughter here because it ties into the to this posts theme. Thanks for your suggestions and for giving it such thought!

        I think of you as a mysterious Western European princess like Audrey Hepburn in the classic movie Roman Holiday, Princess by day, helping commoners with your advice by night.

        Shitty mom confession. I love my kids, our number one goal is to not screw up our kids. We both out a lot if energy and effort into being good parents. Sometimes I failed because of exhaustion or my own lack of understanding of what to do.

        But shamefully, sometimes I was a shitty mom just because I wanted it to be easier. It’s just Soooo friggin hard to be a decent parent especially as they become teenagers.

        I expected that it “should” be easier and I would immaturely expect my kids to change to make it easier rather than me changing to be more mature and accepting the differences that made it less easy for me.

        These are the exact same lack of understanding and lack of maturity and relationship skills that made me a shitty wife. They also make you a shitty parent, friend, child, sibling, coworker, whatever.

        Not understanding there is a huge difference between the need for healthy boundaries and dysfunctionallly insisting (or even secretly wishing) for the other person to change to make it easy for me by being less different in their needs, wants, personalities, etc.

        So that is where my daughter comes in. She is amazing and wonderful and also very different than me. Those differences make it hard for me to be a good parent to her sometimes. In my shitty mom ways, I wanted her to be less different.

        I want to be able to talk to her about sex and anything else in an intellectual, logical, fact based way. I would get frustrated with her because she doesn’t respond to my “easy” methods.

        But I now understand that is being a shitty mom. I have to accept her influence and find ways that she finds easy (or at least easier). I catch myself about once a week being a shitty mom and wanting her to be easier for me. It’s human, but I’ve at least recognized it as shitty and no acceptable.

        So, here’s what I’ve found so far. She loves music so when we are in the car, I will use lyrics of music about sex or relationships to throw out my opinions or ask for hers. The often misogynistic lyrics are full of opportunities. I also do it with tv shows or commercials. The more I approach it from a place of curiosity rather than lecturing the better it works.

        She talks with me sometimes about middle school drama and relationships. I have to work really hard not to be judgmental or theoretical or lecturing but just interested and curious about her world. If I do that I can throw in a few observations. Sometimes she will even ask my advice cause she knows I have lots of theories. ;)

        It all requires so much willpower and effort and is hard. But she’s helping me be a better more mature person.

        Your specific suggestions are good. The email might work better when she’s older. Here in the US kids don’t use email except for school. She lives on snapchat. I used to try and learn all the apps but I’ve given up although I try and have a general idea.

        The idea about a network of parents is good too. We kind of have an informal network of a few moms that I trust. My daughter has asked one of them advice and questions I know.

        I had the role of talking to my daughter and two of her friends one day about a girl in their class who texted topless photos that then got spread around to many, many people. I was shocked as they slut shamed her in my kitchen and that they believed everything was all he fault and responsibility.

        I did my best to be empathetic for why they would think that and explain to them that although it was poor judgment and a mistake, no one deserves to have their pictures sent to hundreds of people and laughed at. The idiots who did that are the ones to blame. The messages they receive and absorb despite my best efforts! Sometimes it helps to hear it from another adult too not just your mom.

        Thanks for your suggestions. I have no idea what I am doing on a daily basis. At this point I am just trying to not be a shitty mom and love and accept her for who is really is.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa, I just wanted to pipe in and say it sounds like you are doing a great job- just by being interested.
        I love kids- I love watching them grow. 1 year- preschool is AMAZING to me! I didn’t even know this until a friend of mines 12 month old said my name (without being prompted!). It never occurred to me that the child was listening and watching, and apparently understanding a lot more than I ever gave her credit for.
        I’m sure its the same/similar with teens- Well maybe sometimes :) There’s the added hormones, feelings of invisibility with an overall lack of impulse control that makes it a little more terrifying.
        But, I think overall- even if most teens aren’t “getting it” now, what you are modeling and saying is having a huge effect on her. She may have never thought about those questions you are asking her, but my bet is that she will start to ask herself more questions more often. And of course, being curious- asking questions instead of giving demands (and should’s) allows for a real exchange. You’re helping her develop her own thoughts! You’re an Amazing Mama! : )

        And, here is my “I really have no idea” disclaimer:
        Just to exemplify how much of a non- parent I have become: the other day as I was walking in the park , in deep conversation with a friend of mine, I tripped over this little girl who was squatting, playing with a doodle bug or something, on the walking path. I never even saw her! I know that if I were a parent I would have a super- “hey- there’s a small child!” radar , maybe with lights and sirens, that would have prevented me from scarring her for life. I hope she still likes doodle bugs. : (!

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Ooops, posted in the wrong place at first, sorry guys. I’ll try again and then leave it alone:

        Lisa,

        About the slut shaming: Like you say, despite your best efforts, the messages that kids absorb these days! Golly! Sounds like you did a great job handling that.

        Reading about your parenting/maturing process reminds me of something my differentiation man David Schnarch said (I’m paraphrasing): Everyone wants the results you get from growing up, but no one wants to go through the process. I can relate to that for sure. 8)

        You said: “I think of you as a mysterious Western European princess like Audrey Hepburn in the classic movie Roman Holiday, Princess by day, helping commoners with your advice by night”

        Wheeeeeee, thank you so much, lol! It’s probably quite silly of me, but I truly felt so happy and flattered by that. I won’t ruin your fun by describing my current outfit. 8) (But as far as I know, I don’t have any royal blood, sorry. :/)

        I was wondering about something. I thought I remembered something Gottman said/wrote about solving conflicts/removing the negatives isn’t enough to build love/have a happy marriage? Does that ring any bells for you? I couldn’t find it myself (but I didn’t look THAT hard either). Please don’t feel any pressure to find out for me, but you have such a good grasp of his stuff that I thought you might already know. 8)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo:

        You said “what you are modeling and saying is having a huge effect on her.”

        That’s what I’m afraid of. ;)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        You said: “I was wondering about something. I thought I remembered something Gottman said/wrote about solving conflicts/removing the negatives isn’t enough to build love/have a happy marriage? Does that ring any bells for you? I couldn’t find it myself (but I didn’t look THAT hard either). Please don’t feel any pressure to find out for me, but you have such a good grasp of his stuff that I thought you might already know. 8)”

        “Dr. Gottman reports that stable marriages have a 5:1 ratio of positivity to negativity during conflict, whereas in unstable marriages the ratio is 0.8 to 1.”

        I seem to remember reading that Gottman says that the “masters” had a 20:1 ratio and were the ratio was positive even in conflict. That would be the ideal goal,

        It’s very easy one a dysfunctional cycle starts to be triggered easily and interpret neutral things negatively and respond harshly or withdraw.

        There is also a lot of Gottman stuff that talks about the critical importance of deep friendship as the foundation of a happy marriage.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Ok, thank you Lisa! :)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo: You said: Just to exemplify how much of a non- parent I have become: the other day as I was walking in the park , in deep conversation with a friend of mine, I tripped over this little girl who was squatting, playing with a doodle bug or something, on the walking path. I never even saw her! I know that if I were a parent I would have a super- “hey- there’s a small child!” radar , maybe with lights and sirens, that would have prevented me from scarring her for life. I hope she still likes doodle bugs. : (!

        I think that just reflects your love of deep conversations ;)

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lol @ Lisa.
        I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised. It just takes a few years to get fully cooked.
        My teen years were not good, and in spite of all that, I have a pretty good life, with a somewhat attached head on my shoulders, at least half of the time. So, in short – if I can do it, she can do it! : )

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa you said
        “I think that just reflects your love of deep conversations ;)”

        …Maybe so ; ).

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        I am definitely not saying until I have guessed it, or I give up and that is the only way I can get your country out of you. :)
        So, second question- Do ya’ll party all night, or are you in bed at 9?

        Like

    • Travis B. says:

      Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, most commonly known as the city the writers of FRIENDS equated with the most miserable place on Earth to send New Yorker Chandler Bing for work. Can’t say they were too far off the mark.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Donkey says:

        Hihi, I remember Chandler Bing in Tulsa! 8)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        Have you lived there a long time?

        I am assuming you say pop instead of soda since you are an Okie?

        Do you know all the words to the song Oklahoma?

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Donkey,

        I am excited that I think I figured out what country you live in! I put on my Sherlock Holmes hat. Of course, I could be wrong and you really live in New Jersey pretending to live in Western Europe. ;). Your English grammar is better than mine as Travis can tell you.

        You are free to ask me 20 questions about where I lived most of my life. I still consider that place more of my identity anyway.

        I feel a little vulnerable about revealing where I live now on the internet because of my daughter. ;).

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Lisa asked,

        “Have you lived there a long time?”

        My entire life, though I’ve never felt “of” Oklahoma, so I always tell people my body belongs to Oklahoma, but my soul belongs to southern California.

        “I am assuming you say pop instead of soda since you are an Okie?”

        Often, yes, but I push myself often to say “soda”. It just sounds better somehow. And I’ve had multiple people, who hail from all sorts of states across the U.S., tell me that they would never have identified me as Oklahoman from an accent.

        “Do you know all the words to the song Oklahoma?”

        I can get about halfway through before petering out. Please understand that, though I don’t hold my home state in outright distaste, I carry no pride in it, either. Philosophically, religiously, politically, I share nothing in common with the typical vibe of this state. Throw in the fact that I’m bored silly by sports (and between OU, OSU and the OKC Thunder, dear God, are we a sports-lovin’ state) and utterly loathe country music and, well, let’s just say I feel like I’ve lived my whole life as a stranger in a strange land.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        You said: “Philosophically, religiously, politically, I share nothing in common with the typical vibe of this state. Throw in the fact that I’m bored silly by sports (and between OU, OSU and the OKC Thunder, dear God, are we a sports-lovin’ state) and utterly loathe country music and, well, let’s just say I feel like I’ve lived my whole life as a stranger in a strange land.”

        Yes, I can see how you would not fit into the general vibe of Oklahoma. It’s one of the most politically conservative and religious states in the country. And you don’t like country music or sports? Next you’re going to tell me you listen to NPR to complete the Oklahoma rebellion. ;)

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Lisa said,

        “Next you’re going to tell me you listen to NPR to complete the Oklahoma rebellion. ;)”

        Actually, nothing–and I mean nuthin’!–gets played in my car but music (chiefly rock and, ‘cuz I’m nerdy, film score soundtracks). Talk radio is one of my pet peeves. We live in a world where everyone has no shortage of access to any number of platforms for constantly airing every opinion which sparks in their heads (heck, I’m part of the problem on this very blog!). I can’t stand the din of the ceaseless yammering about everything under the sun. I figure we’re only a few years away from dropping “Hello!” as our standard greeting and replacing it with, “So here are my thoughts on the matter!” If someone prefers listening to a bunch of talking heads over, say, listening to Talking Heads, they’re not going to enjoy being a passenger in my car, LOL!

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Travis,

        How could I forget your love of playing Beyoncé in your car, mouthing all the words! ;)

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Travis!
        I feel the same about the small conservative town I live. While, it’s my own fault- I have chosen to live here for the last 14 years, I frequently feel a disconnect with the general political mindset. There are great people, but yeah- definitely don’t always see eye to eye.
        I had dinner the other day with a great couple who were talking about the local election and she tossed it out there that she just voted for whoever he husband told her to (not because he is domineering, but because she didn’t know the candidates.) It really struck me and I thought “THAT is what we have worked for?”
        No wonder white men still reign supreme (no offense)- they get 2 votes when they should only get one.
        :/. That’s just my little rant, but an example of some of the differences. Its hard being a single working woman in a generally conservative “family values” town. I will likely move in a year or so.
        But, on another note (I LOVE THE TALKING HEADS!!)
        And, just for mentioning that I will share one of my favs:

        (You may need to cut and paste- if your at all interested…It’s”Naive Melody”
        (* LOVE!)

        Like

    • Linbo says:

      Donkey,
      Great! I just wanted to make sure I was making sense to you. I couldnt tell that you were from another country, much less also used another language, so obviously there is no problem on this end. :). Its wonderful that you guys are bilingual. Do you know other languages, too? (will that be a give away for you? :) . This reminds me that there is a whole globe out there that I havent seen!
      I do talk about this stuff with my friends ,on occasion, but 98% of my friends are also parents, and about 70% of those have small children, so conversation is pretty much impossible (unless you sneak over at 10 pm, with a bottle of wine- then you may have a chance to talk. ) Its usually is best just to be part of the immediate chaos that’s occurring. And believe me I relish that chaos.
      Yes, definitely WHEN we have the MBTTTR party I am sure there will be no trouble with the conversation :)
      You should work on getting your passport ;).
      I graduate in *like, a little over a year, and will totally need a vacation. Just sayin… : )

      Like

      • Donkey says:

        Linbo:

        Yeah, we know English well in my country, but I think we suck at math. You can’t have it all I guess. 8)

        I do know two other language somewhat (could be a giveaway, sorry, my paranoia must be getting old by now), but not nearly as well as I know English. In one of them I can have everyday sort of conversations quite well and understand people speaking it quite well (at least I hope I can still do that, not too keen on testing it out), but I could not have the kind of conversations we’re having here. I do not have the ease with it and the vocabulary for that at all, and reading and writing it is very hard for me, it would take me forever and wouldn’t turn out well. :) The other language I will avoid speaking as best I can, and I try to forget I ever had anything to do with it. But if someone forced me, I could probably order dinner and comment on the weather. 8)

        About the friends with the young kids: I’ve just had such a great evening with my best friend. I think she and her hubby will have kids (assuming they don’t have fertility problems) not too long from now though, and I selfishly absolutely dread her being less available to talk with me. 8) Maybe I can be her nanny so I can see her more often, lol.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Donkey,
        With my friend, her first child was kind of “easy”, so we all (her, her husband and myself- and other friends at times) would frequently spend time together. I met her second child in the hospital, and then didn’t see her for 6 months :).
        We still see each other every other week or so. It really is just making each other a priority, and they both (her and her husband) are very giving in that way.
        It may be worth it to bring it up, and at least let them know that you hope to continue to be in their life in a significant way. – Just some thoughts. :)

        Like

  6. Amen, Matt! I’m telling you, the secret to all the world’s wisdom has been transplanted into hospice nurses. That’s because a wealth of human wisdom is to be found within our elderly, the people who have actually been there and done that. It’s so sad to me that we are such a youth worshipping culture and we actually consult with pop starts and Hollywood eye candy for our relationship advice. Heck, we do that for our political and cultural advice too.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Really powerful idea, I thought. Collecting the wisdom of people in their final moments, and then trying to apply them when you theoretically have more time to maximize the experience of being alive.

      It feels like a worthwhile thing to explore.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. marilyn sims says:

    I miss my grandson; Good grief, I miss him terribly. He’s eleven and living in a different state with his father. Both are very, very happy to have the opportunity to reclaim their connection after being apart for six years. It’s wonderful to know my grandson lives with what he values; I miss him.

    We used to lay track and run trains in the living room . I taught him how to play Old Maid and Uno and Monopoly. We used to laugh hysterically when we read “Frog and Toad Together”…

    “…Nana I think I’ve outgrown those stories…” I miss my grandson. And yes, I talk to him on the phone…it’s not the same. He’s moved on. He has joined what his father calls his “special little wolf-pack”. My grandson will soon be twelve…thirteen… I don’t know how to reclaim our special connection. Sometimes I cry, Some of my friends understand, others say
    “…you need to find other interests.” I used to call him my Favorite Grandson— it was only when he about nine that he realized he is my ONLY Grandson.

    Like

  8. marilyn sims says:

    “ON CHILDREN” by Kahlil Gibran

    Your children are not your children. They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and HE bends you with his might that
    HIS arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer ‘s hand be for gladness;
    For even as HE loves the arrow that flies, so he loves the bow that is still.

    Like

  9. marilyn sims says:

    To everyone:

    While I was growing up (during the sixties) it was the common practice in the obituaries for a man’s service record, his membership in a fraternal organization, his faith affiliation and his years in his chosen profession/job etc. to be listed at the beginning of the tribute. Near the end, were mentions of a wife, children, other family members who were survivors. If the obituary was for a woman, the order of the tribute was usually reversed.

    Is this still the case? Is it instructive — in any way– to our conversation about what’s important in a person’s life?

    Like

    • Linbo says:

      Hi Marilyn, I really liked the poem you posted. I love the ending. – That He loves the arrow that flies and the bow that is still. Very nice :).

      It’s interesting that the obituaries were configured in the way you described. If you grew up in the 60’s you may be my mom’s age or a little younger.
      So much has changed, even in that span of time. Lord, that’s 60 years almost! It doesn’t sound like it was that long ago.

      The obituary could be interpreted as very gender specific, and reflects what was important for men vs. women. A lot of the content from previous posts reflected on how men and women both are a little cheated that for men service and accolades are what they are praised for and rewarded for when relationship is so important for us both. There is no doubt that there is a huge maternal connection to their children and other relationships. Also,the ability to empathize may be easier for women (maybe through design, and maybe by socialization) and so family and relationship become a large part of her life,( and are therefore she becomes known for those things). While for men, they are more driven to succeed and achieve, and so these achievements can become a large part of their life (and therefore are known for those things) .
      I believe that men still need connection and in fact would have happier, fuller lives with it- I think the women married to them are happier, too.

      Maybe the order should be gender neutral and just list what the individual thought was important in his/her own life.
      What are your thoughts on the order?

      Like

  10. marilyn sims says:

    Hi Linbo,

    I am just beginning to understand the forces that turn boys into men and how it impacts so many of their choices growing up. I hear sighs of resignation in some who don’t believe there is a real choice between choosing an authentic life that expresses their full HUMANITY
    as opposed to one that expresses a COMPETENT and RESPECTED MANHOOD. So I think many would choose to be highly respected rather than deeply loved and it shows up in places like obituaries.

    This is all speculation on my part and I am sure there are so many variables I have not yet considered that any man might say I’m “full of it” and I might have to agree with him.

    I don’t even know whether I’ve come close to answering your question.

    Like

    • Linbo says:

      Hi Marilyn,
      I think I am understanding what you are saying. Are you saying that even though you believe that men can chose to live a life that “expresses their full humanity” (by being relational) instead of one that is geared toward their purpose as being ” to succeed” that most would prefer to succeed vs. deeply loved? (I am translating Competent and Respected manhood into success because I think that is how most men express their competence and gain respect.)

      I think that IS the current mindset of most men. But, I think some of it (A lot of it) is the need to appear strong ,maybe because they believe that is what makes a man an man.
      But, honestly I dont think it is an either/or. Men can still be successful and be relational and loving. I think there is underlying trouble when a man chooses to put work, or income (these are typical areas men like to succeed in) over (and at the expense of) being a part of the family unit.
      He is saying his need to feel successful and admired is more important that the family unit that he lives in.
      This is very typical, especially in a consumer driven society that puts a high value on material goods.

      Like

    • Travis B. says:

      Any day of the week, I would choose to be deeply loved over being highly respected, but I’m hardly the model of a typical male, even though I do suffer from many of my gender’s common relationship foibles.

      Like

  11. marilyn sims says:

    Linbo,

    I agree that it isn’t an either/or, yet it seems as though, as you said, most men would lean toward a life that would affirm his chances as being seen as successful. I think women want a “successful” man also. So where is the incentive to change? How do we construct a society built on a both/and paradigm rather than our either/or one?

    And, I’m glad you like the poem.

    Like

  12. Commenting on a different snip of this post….

    “That guy who just cut you off dangerously and rudely in traffic is a huge asshole who needs to learn how to drive, UNLESS we later discover he was rushing to a nearby hospital because his small child was undergoing emergency surgery and he didn’t know whether his little son or daughter would live or die.”

    I used to get SO ANGRY at these jackholes. Now, I just chuckle and tell my kids, “Boy, he must REALLY have to poop!”

    Being a parent changes you….And as we get older, we realize how close the finish line actually is. It’s not like when you start a marathon and it’s so far out you can’t see it. It’s like some kind of reverse mirage, closer than it seems.

    Like

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