Tag: relationships

Grandmas’ Row

I had lunch with an old friend yesterday who I have known now for thirteen years. She and I worked together at my first firm when I moved here from California. She and I became grandmothers the same year and the partner she worked for affectionately coined our side of the office, “Grandmothers Row”. After a couple of years, I moved on to a new job, she and I kept in touch, meeting for lunch a couple of times a year.

Our lives have not intersected in the way that it does on a daily basis when you work with someone who you are close to; that you becomes friends with. We don’t share the day-to-day events of our lives, or the “what happened this weekend” accounts on Monday mornings when you are getting your coffee or having your leftovers from Sunday dinner in the lunch room. In this world, where nothing stays the same, jobs change, families evolve, sickness looms, “life happens!”, you manage your friendships as you can.

This last year has been particular hard on my friend, and I hugged her when we said our goodbyes, promising we would have an early New Years’ celebration, tossing out 2012 for her and bringing in 2013, in the hopes the new year will be better for her. The reality of friendship, as in most relationships, is you are stoutly reminded of your limitations to affect the circumstances of life…your own and those you are close to. I felt that reality yesterday when I listened to the emotion in my friend’s voice. It made my voice catch as I told her “I don’t even know what to say”.

Thinking of that moment, now, I am grateful I was there to listen, to share some space, without giving in the knee-jerk reaction of comforting platitudes. I listened, I comforted, and knowing, I was powerless in the face of what my friend had been through and was still going through, I was quiet, for a change.

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Getting to the “fa la la”

I had a recent conversation with a young woman friend.  She is in a relationship.  They are having growing pains.  After an hour  conversation about what is not working, and what she would like to have work, she says “I just want to get to the “fa la la”.

I tried not to laugh, because she was dead serious.  I am not an expert on relationships.  I have been married before and am happily married now, but it didn’t just happen…it didn’t just fast forward to the “fa la la”.  I guess, I should have asked her to “define” the “fa la la”, but I took a leap of faith, thinking she meant to the part of the relationship that is familiar, that is full of ease and peace.   That is full of quiet.  That part that feels safe.    I say this, because the “growing pains” she is experiencing have to do with communication, what she feels is lacking in the relationship.

I sometimes wonder if today’s generation of women are ok with quiet in a relationship.   I have a varied group of friends, some of them are younger than me, some are my age or older.  They express frustration with a partner or spouse who may listen to them, but may have little to say or add to the conversation.  I tell them, in my experience, women are “resolution”  creatures…we define an issue and set to resolve it, after we have laid out every step of that resolution.  Men, are “action” oriented.  They identify the issue and fix it.      They don’t necessarily want to talk about the steps to get to the fix it part.  They do, however, want recognition for having fixed it…that part of the issue, they do like.

I also feel that given my young friend’s frustration about the “fa la la” that she wants to cut to the chase and get the hard part of relationship building over with.  “Instant gratification”.  I am not fond of that term, but it works in this case, because I have seen a growing frustration with young couples when they reach the “plateau” in their relationships.  You know what I am speaking of, when going out to dinner is part of your “routine” and not a special occasion.  When you can watch TV together in the evening and not discuss the plots, or much of anything.  When you make something “special” for dinner, and he says nothing of it, while eating it in front of the TV.  When you don’t take exception that he would rather drink beer with the guys then have wine with you.  When sex becomes part of the nighttime ritual, like flossing your teeth and gargling before bed.

Successful anything takes work.  Relationships, in which children, income and emotions are involved, shouldn’t be easy.  Too much is at stake.  You should be doing your best work and putting your best effort into something that involves lives, livelihood and your well-being.  I don’t have the answer for my young friend.   I know that my relationship with my husband, may seem to be one of ease, to those who view us.  Those of you who know me or have read my posts, know, this is not the case.  We both bring issues to the relationship that complicate or add to the work we have to do.

All, I know is that the payoff is we have the ability to laugh and appreciate the joys, big and little, that our life has given us.   It is not just enough to listen to each other, as it is to hear one another.  I miss him when he is away, but I am comfortable in the quiet that he leaves behind.   And, yes… it is still a big deal when he reaches for my hand.  It may not be the “fa la la”, but it works for me.