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Are relationships really worth having?

I'm an older woman who's been divorced and then became widowed from my second husband.  My children are all grown and have moved away and have lives and children of their own. For the first time in my life I am free to be the woman I've always dreamed of being... independent, able to live where I want and do what I want without the limitations of having a partner.

John Gray's book
John Gray's bookJohn Gray, PhD

My thoughts were, "Why would I want to have a relationship now?"

For many months after my husband died, I had no desire to be with anyone. For the first time in my life, I truly was alone and it actually felt pretty good, especially after two years of stress, caring for a sick man a whole generation older than me.

I felt fairly balanced, at peace, content with my new situation. I had recently purchased a home, traded in my SUV for a puddle-jumper car that would do better in our snowy climate. I was blessed with having my son and his family in the same town, and life was good. I had made new friends and would take short trips here and there... I felt really free.

Loneliness really didn't bother me. I was so busy with all that was new to me, I didn't think about missing a man's companionship or love, although I did grieve for my late husband and had wonderful memories of our times together. But the thought of finding someone new simply did not appeal to me.

Then my life changed.

Shortly after the anniversary of my late husband's death, I began to think about having a possible relationship... well, maybe some day. I wasn't thinking "now." But I was thinking about it, sort of wondering... what would he be like? Who would he be?

Then, the Law of Attraction kicked in. Our thoughts create. Don't ever doubt that.

Unexpectedly, a new man entered my life. I wasn't looking for this to happen, it just did... out of the blue. We were attracted to one another and before I even knew what hit me, I was smitten.

The new relationship was sudden and intense, what some would call a "whirlwind" romance. It was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me, and it really threw me for a loop. I immediately cast away all my preconceived notions about remaining alone. My focus fell exclusively on him.

Well, almost four months have passed now and my love life has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride. I'm either high or I'm really low... experiencing the ultimate in happiness and fulfillment, only to discover the next day that I'm lingering in the doldrums, wondering to myself, "What the hell happened here?" At times I've even asked myself whether it was worthwhile to let this happen to me.

I have a friend about my age who is totally against having another relationship in her life. She just wants to be by herself, do her thing and not have to worry about the heartaches and misunderstandings and challenges that come with a relationship. She has experienced her fill of relationships and because the last one left her hurt so badly, she feels she just can't do it again.

I, on the other hand, have been weathering the storms and hoping I don't get swept out to sea by an emotional tsunami. Four months is not that long a time to know if a relationship is going to last, but I think I have a pretty good idea by now what I am in for, should I decide to continue with it.

The man I love is quite different from my other relationships. Maybe that's why he is so appealing. He has many great qualities that I find endearing and attractive, one of which is his ability to be blunt and to the point. Being the sensitive woman that I've always been, this has at times caused hurt feelings on my part and caused me to crawl back into my shell, thinking the worst.

This was precisely the reason why my friend insisted she didn't want any more relationships. She could see how I was suffering every time something went wrong. "It's just not worth it," she'd tell me.

The truth was, of course, he was just being himself and meant no harm. We've never had a fight or even an argument, but we have had differences of opinion and misunderstandings. Somehow we've been able to work through them, but not without some emotional expenditure on my part. The fact that we still find each other desirable and exciting is enough to want us both to keep working on improving the relationship.

So what makes a relationship worth keeping?

First of all, two people have to want the relationship to continue. If one wants it and the other is tired of it, there's no use going on. This is what happened in my first marriage. My husband desperately wanted to stay married to me, but I had fallen out of love with him. The relationship just was not worth it.

Trust is number one in relationships. You must trust each other, and in particular the man wants the woman's trust. He needs to know that she trusts him to know what he's doing, that he can take care of her, and that she can depend on him. It really helps if the woman can show that she trusts him by not always trying to tell him what he should do, or point out his mistakes... unless, of course, it's life threatening.

Security is also important. Most of my own issues have involved insecurity. A woman wants to know that she is loved and desired, even when the man pulls away at times to do his own thing. This was one of the most important things I learned in reading John Gray's book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. He talks about how men periodically need to go hide in their "caves" and how women mistake this for abandonment.

The real reason men do this is to contemplate their problems and figure things out. They need their solitary time. Women, on the other hand, tend to solve their problems by venting, by talking with others about what troubles them, and they expect men to be the same. But as the book points out, men and women are entirely different.

Once I read about this idea of men going to their caves and women going into their wells (an emotional cycle of highs and lows), it made sense to me. That was exactly what was happening in my new relationship, only I didn't know why.

The book has many insights and some great pointers on improving your relationships. By discovering our different emotional needs and how to communicate difficult feelings to one another, we can keep our relationships strong and on the right path.

One of the greatest tools in the book is the concept of the "Love Letters," in which you write out your feelings in a letter to your partner, and then you reflect back what you'd like them to respond. It helps you recognize what it is that you need to work on, and enhances communication between you.

Is it worth it? Well, that depends... I suppose there are many women out there, and men too, who probably think it's not worth it. But in my case, I'm willing to put up with a little effort to see this through. Time will tell whether my new man and I get to that point where we are perfectly comfortable and suited to each other. It may take many years, in fact. But I'm willing to do it because he is definitely worth it.

I feel I'm worth it as well. Sometimes the things in life we cherish most are those things we've worked hard at and earned. If you feel that way, buy John Gray's book and find out for yourself.

For more information:
View John Gray in this You Tube video called "John Gray: Law of Attraction & Relationships."

 

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