Wednesday, July 24, 2013


So the last post was about what NOT to do.  This one is inspired by long term commitment. I read a lot of stuff out there on the 'net having to do with relationship advice.  Some is good but most is very superficial.  And of course I've joined the fray...but I often write this stuff to look at my own relationship & remind myself of what we do right & what we need to improve. Sometimes I come across an article that is really good.  The one that I'm going to write about today stands out.  It talks about longevity in a relationship.  How the successful ones last.  It also starts with a quote from a philosopher I've run into before, Paul Tillich.  He says, "Any deep relationship to another human being requires watchfulness and nourishment."  Simple but oh, so hard to do! Here is the link to the full article by Victor M. Parachin--read it & tell me what you think, if you dare! I will add what stood out for me below. 

Number one is to enjoy each other--HUGE!  The fact that both Xing Fu & I love to sail & see live music brings us together quite a bit.  And we enjoy talking to each other--finding out what each other thinks, what drives one another.  Even discussing articles such as this one--if I come across advice that I like, I send it on.  I think that it is very good to be able to reflect on what you do well as a couple & what needs improvement--the mere fact that Xing Fu is willing to discuss this stuff brings me to the next piece of advice that I liked:
Being in it for the long haul.  Yep, my last post was all about those folks who may be deluding themselves into thinking that they had a lasting relationship & starting to recognize why they do not.  This one is about what being in it for the long haul is all about.  Some folk out there make a commitment when they marry but in the back of their minds they think things like, "well, if it doesn't work, we can always get a divorce."  The irony of course is that both Xing Fu & I come from unsuccessful marriages.  But I think that our approach is very different this time around--we talk about it.  We don't run away.  We look for ways to improve & we reflect on what we do well & need to do better as I've stated above.  We try to follow the advice of the article on fighting skillfully, & learning to seek & offer forgiveness (very hard for both of us--we are quite hardheaded). 
I hope that we continue to work to try to fix things and grow together as we go.

The last pieces of advice that I want to remark on are the first, & what you might think is obvious, but is oftentimes forgotten--never stop dating each other.  Keep the romance in--I like that we go to hear music & make it into a "date night" with dinner too.  Or that every once in a while we take a weekend just for ourselves--when we went to Front Royal, Va to pick up the writing desk where I'm currently sitting & stayed at a lovely & very romantic B&B.  

And the last is called the 60/40 rule.  I'll allow the article to speak for itself.  This one is new to me & when I shared it with Xing Fu, we both thought that it was something to try in the future:

Successful couples adhere to the 60/40 rule. Boggs and Miller also discovered that "marriage masters" have a high level of selflessness. "Walter" whom they interviewed, told them, "I'll never forget what my mentor told my wife and me before we got married 42 years ago. He looked at us and said, 'Most people think marriage is 50/50. It's not. It's 60/40. You give 60. You take 40. And that goes for both of you." It was a principle Walter and his wife adhered to faithfully.

Xing Fu's interpretation is this, "When you think that you're giving 50% but things aren't resolving, you may need to give a little more." And be willing to do so when necessary.  We have a partnership & sometimes one partner needs to give more than the other--it will balance out in the end & it will also allow for growing together & deepening the intimacy rather than the sometimes adversarial face-off that can occur. This skill ain't easy but we're working on it--we never had a name for what we do, but this one makes sense.

There are other "secrets" in the article but I'll allow you to discover the rest.  I'm interested in any other thoughts people may have.  Let me know.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Recently, I've had a lot of time to think--simply because it's the summer, my kid's been in Israel for a month, & I only work 2 days a week.  There just ain't a lot to do--especially while swimming laps at the pool--thinking just creeps in, ya' know?  Anyhow, I digress & I haven't even started.  But I've been thinking about all of my past relationships & how they compare to my current one.  I hate to say it but I think this one is my first really mature relationship.  Here I am, 46 years old & up until this point I've been floundering in a morass of immature, often, destructive relationships...sigh. I've been thinking about this because of some of the folks around me & their current situations.  Comparisons abound & when I look at what these people are going through, I wince because at some point that was me & like them, I never recognized the toxicity of the relationship.  And now, observing my current situation, & no it ain't perfect by any stretch, but I can definitely say that it is mature.  Can you step back & look at what is going on? Signs that your romantic relationship is immature:

1. You keep breaking up & then reuniting.  This could be due to the fact that your guy keeps cheating on you or asks for space or isn't able to discuss anything that causes issues in the relationship....

2. You argue constantly.  OK, everyone has disagreements & sometimes they get a bit heated, but is it everyday?  Are you able to even discuss a problem with respect & without disintegrating into name-calling? You get my point--conflict happens, but how you deal with the process is what's telling.

3. You feel disconnected.  Emotionally, physically, proximity--as in he's never available by phone, email, or even for a date....and when you bring it up, he gets defensive and/or secretive.  You're sick, you need a ride to the doctor, your car broke down & you need a ride to the mechanic but he can't help--evah. A man who is emotionally unavailable is very immature about your relationship--if he's unwilling to talk about what bothers you...ever, run, don't walk to the nearest exit!  

4. You are always suspicious.  What is he doing? With whom? Why didn't he text, call, email?  Why didn't he tell me he loves me?  Why didn't he take me out? Why haven't I met his friends, family yet & we've been together ____ months? Get it?

5. You feel like it's just game-playing.  See all of the above--this is player behavior!

6. You haven't developed a real friendship.  A mature relationship is based on an underlying friendship that grows deeper over time. Sex & attraction is important, but do you enjoy each other as companions?  'nuff said!

7. You don't show affection.  This could be in public--I'm not saying an all-out make-out session a la middle school--I'm just saying hand holding, a kiss in the parking lot of the Giant, or a shoulder rub as you sit at Merriweather watching a concert.  That kind of thing.  A mature guy is not afraid of a little PDA.  

8. You never look beyond the current interaction.  In other words, you have no future plans--for another date if it is a relatively new relationship, or for a trip somewhere together, if you've been with this person for a while.  Or even, you don't see him, or you, intertwining your futures--

9. You are supplementing them. If you are giving money, "therapy", a place to live, etc., and not getting anything in return.  Yes, couples need to be there for each other but not provide a place to live without a prior agreement of living together, and/or giving money to that person because they're short every month, or providing "therapy" instead of support emotionally.  This is over-the-top. Mature relationships do not have this kind of one-sidedness.  It is very shared.  Yes, emergencies do come up but it not quite such a land-slide in one direction.

10. You believe that it will get better.  If all of the above circumstances apply to you & your sig other....It won't!  End it!

I'm no therapist myself, but the old adage, "been there, done that" applies.  I'd rather throw in my two cents than to sit idly by & watch the destruction.  Good luck, & I hope I can help even a little bit.  And everyone who wants a good, loving relationship deserves to have one!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Back From the Territories

Yup, I'm back. I'd "flipped" into the Territories. I took an extended leave of absence to kinda figure out where I was going, what I was doing, & decide whether or not I wanted to continue.  And obviously, I do since I've turned back on the all or nothing button for readers. I unintentionally caused a bit of grief for some folk & even though I was honest & tried to tread carefully, I was hurtful to one person in particular that I wish I hadn't upset.  Insert apology here..... The other person in the drama was just out to cause unnecessary pain & to that person I will NOT apologize.  Anyway, 'nuff said, it is in the past.

So why am I back?  Well I'll tell 'ya.  I enjoyed writing this blog--for the most part it was cathartic & fun--especially those misguided moments in life that you just gotta say, WTF?  I think I lost track of that somewhere so I now attempt to get back on board & perhaps curtail the stepmom stuff for someplace else.  Where exactly?  I don't know just yet--perhaps another blog which will be by invite only.  We'll see--as it stands, the stepfamily stuff is kinda' just rolling along & yeah, there are bumps but there ain't no mountains currently--a very good thing. "So now (cheesy grin) I'm back, from outer space..."

I was also prompted by some past articles I've happened across about relationships, etc. & wanted to share them & had nowhere to go. Anyhoo, here goes!

Do you have the perfect boyfriend/partner?  And no, it ain't a body like the new Superman or humor a la Fred Armisen (who is leaving SNL incidentally).  I really liked this article from by Amy Spencer because it does point out some of the enduring qualities that a partner has that makes them "perfect". 

The entire article is a good one--not so sure about the frequency notes, but in general, I agree with what she has to say.  And, after reading the article, I don't have to train Xing Fu too much to achieve a lot of what is written.  Lucky me!  And no, he ain't perfect, believe me, but in this area, he does come close (the roses last week for no reason, e.g.).  I was especially touched by the first entry:

"Gives Us Butterflies in the Beginning"--yup--we all like those new romance stomach flip-flops but it was the end of the entry that really caught my eye:
 ...those fluttery feelings in the beginning of a new romance are important. Relationships can be hard at times, and one way to endure the rough patches is having that little spark of high-school variety puppy love to fall back on. The perfect guy provides his partner with that feeling.

Xing Fu always accuses me of being very nostalgic--guilty as charged!  But one of the things that I reflect on, are those first feelings of realization that I was falling for him & that the feeling was mutual. Even a few years later.  In fact, I was reading some old FB messages this morning & there it was!  The funny tickle in my tummy--nice that it still happens & I sent him an email just to tell him that I had those fuzzies--we all need to tell our significant others when those feelings come--makes you appreciate the relationship that much more.  

OK--now I'm done & hopefully there will be more soon.  Happy Summer!  

Maybe some sailing stories too....don't tempt me!