Space in Love

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But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

 That’s the famous Khalil Gibran quote and you’ve probably heard it incorporated into LOTS of wedding ceremonies.

And as we get ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I have to wonder…what does that mean? What are spaces in your togetherness, and when is it too much space?

My mom and dad were married straight out of high school. They were married for more than 50 years and hardly ever spent a day apart. There was a brief time when dad did some sales calls on the road when I was really young, but by the time I was in college, they had started a business together and it was rare to find them apart. Weekly phone calls to the parents, it was just understood: one parent on each phone extension and nothing was ever a secret from the other one. It was always momanddad like it was one word, never mom…and…dad.

I kept trying to get them to do some things on their own, especially after I first heard that Khalil Gibran quote.

But my mom would just say, “There’s nobody I enjoy as much as I enjoy spending time with your dad, so why would I?”

When I married my husband, I married someone with very different interests. He likes photography, discipline, solitude. I like dancing, horseback riding, being pampered, and making dinner for friends. I do love spending time with him, but I would never ask him to go to a spa vacation with me. It would be excruciating for him, and worrying about him would ruin my own state of zen.

So, most years, I go without him.

The first year we did separate vacations, my mom was really worried. This was my second marriage and she was convinced I was going to screw this one up too…I mean…separate vacations?! People only do that when their marriage is in trouble! And then they have vacation flings that hammer the final nails into the marriage.

Well, no.

In fact, I would find that I came back from those vacations with a renewed appreciation for my husband. I missed him, but I would never have had the chance to miss him if he was with me every minute!

I mentioned earlier that my husband and I are very different. I can try and pretend that I care about the angle and light of endless photos of the same animal, but why? My husband is much happier without me, geeking out over camera equipment with his photographer friends. No need for me to be there.

And, dancing? Well, my husband has taken a few lessons with me, just because he’s that nice a guy. But when we go to the dance floor, he dances a few beats of a song and then gets bored. And, since songs are usually only an average of 2.5 minutes, that tells you just how much he hates dancing. But should I never dance again because my spousal dance partner won’t?

Now, my mom would have said, yes, I should never dance again. That we should develop hobbies that we both enjoy so that we can do them together. Behind that advice would be the secret fear my dance partner would somehow become more attractive to me than my own husband is.

Could happen, I suppose.

But that feeling that you need your partner to be your other half in everything? It’s not going to stop you from having an affair, if that’s what you’re set on doing.

Honoring the spaces in your togetherness depends on your maturity and your being complete all by yourself. Because that “you complete me” stuff you see in movies? It’s bullshit. Go get some space in your togetherness.

woman binding his man with a chain on white background

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A Letter to My Younger Self

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The start of a new year, and we all hope that the coming year brings something better than the old. Out with the old, in with the new.

But the truth is, the old wasn’t so bad. I just wish I had realized it at the time. In case someone invents a time machine that can send a letter back to my younger self, I offer myself this hard-won advice:

Dear Younger Self:

I know the things that worry you, the things you feel like you will never master. So let me tell you what you will learn one day.

Jobs

The longer you’re in the workforce, the less entitled you will feel and the more grateful you will be for a job. The arrogance that came with your jump-start into a nifty job right out of college, will dissipate a few firings and one layoff later. But on the positive side, people will finally start to listen to the credence that experience brings to your voice, and motherhood will give you management experience with the tiny tyrants who populate most offices. And eventually, you won’t have to sell yourself so hard; jobs will start to come to you, and you will be grateful for each one.

Boys

The things that drew you to the bad boys will fade along with the bad boys’ hairlines. You will learn that you no longer need bad boys. On the other hand, the boys who seem like bland best buddies are still bland. You’re smarter, not dead, when you get older, and that sexual sizzle is still important and still worth getting out of – and into – bed for. You’ll just be more selective. Eventually, you’ll find one person who can deliver the lengthy best friend chats along with the lengthy bad boy sex.

Friends

You will figure out that swearing best-friend status for life is laughable. Your life will go through many twists and turns, and friends will come, go, then come back again like angels when needed. You will become so varied that no one friend can possibly fill all your needs, nor you theirs. So you will develop a tribe, a posse, a coven of friends who cover every occasion.

Life

You will work every day to get out of your own way. Sometimes you will succeed and do a little victory dance to celebrate the awesomeness of you. Other days, you will curl into a fetal position and consider it a victory if you get out of bed. But mostly, you will learn that you are good enough. Good enough to handle whatever life throws at you, whether it is losing a marriage, a job, or a mother. And you will learn that good enough..is good enough.

Dear Me

Be A Better Writer To Be A Better Lover

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I am a writer, which means that as I sit before a blank page, I check my e-mail, hop on Facebook, and read about writing all as an elaborate warmup to the actual writing. Or, to be brutally honest, I goof off before word one hits the page.

As I was goofing off today, I was reading an excellent article about the psychology of writing, and I began to see a subtle but sure relationship between writing – something I enjoy but don’t always protect the time for – with, well, romance.

The article said that writers perform best when they achieve a state of “flow” that overcomes anxiety and boredom. I have written without looking at the clock in a fever of creativity, surprised when my plot hits a crescendo and I stop, amazed at how much time has flown by. Similarly, nothing stops romance colder than anxiety or clock-watching. There’s a great scene in one of the Sex & The City movies in which Miranda, the brainy one, lies beneath her good-guy husband, Steve, and asks him to hurry up. You can imagine his…um…crest-fallen reaction.

The article continues that ritual can be important for writing. Sit in your “writing place” so that becomes where you get used to being creative. The article talks about “cognitive cueing,” in which ritual can ensure that the same sights, sounds, smells cue your mind that now is the time to create. The analogy between this and romance is undeniable. How many times have we set the scene with candles and music to indicate that tonight we’re not watching Jon Stewart?

Finally, the article says bluntly, “There is no ideal rotation of the chair or perfect position of the desk clock that guarantees a Pulitzer. What counts, ultimately, is putting your backside in the chair.”

And that, too, is great advice for those of us in love. Just be present. Just put in the time. Because, there are no flowers or candles that are more romantic than someone who really listens, who is there for you without distraction.

Sometimes, just doing is your inspiration.Pen and Ink