Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Finally. I've procrastinated for a couple of weeks writing the third part of my take on Eat, Pray, Love. Why? Because as simple as love can be, relationships are exponentially more complex. It's been difficult to verbalize all the thoughts swirling around my head.
I really had some issues with the movie regarding love. But then I realized, the reason why love was so elusive for Liz was because one can't love another without loving oneself first.
It's funny how things work in life. I was with a friend and two other people whom I just met. We were driving back from San Juan Capistrano after a long day at a golf tournament and the issue turned marriage and love. There were 3 men all over 45 and a young lady of 30. We were trying to explain how marriage works and how to determine if your partner is "The One." I also explained to them that I've been writing this blog and was having a tough go at finalizing my thoughts. In the course of the conversation, one of the guys profoundly said, "Marriage is about being selfless and not selfish." Bam!!! He nailed it.
Now going back to Eat, Pray, Love. Liz walked away from a marriage and her next relationship because she basically wasn't feeling it. It was a feeling inside of her that maybe there's more out there and that she wasn't happy with the way things were. She loved her partners but she didn't LOVE her partners. When the truth was, she really didn't LOVE herself.
Now the difficulty I had with this part was the fact that Liz was so typical of today's casual attitude about marriage. Marriage is no longer viewed by many as a lifelong proposition. It's just the next step in a relationship and when things go sour, it's time to move on with the excuse that "we deserve to be happy." How often do we hear, "I want passion, I want to feel love, I want fireworks." when someone discusses their decade long marriage? How often do we hear as couples break up? "It's not you, it's me. You deserve more than what I can give you." Cop out, retreat, abandon ship....that's what I hear.
We all want passion in our lives, in our relationships and in the things we do. Who doesn't? But relationships and marriage are like rollercoasters with levels passion and being in love rising and falling as time goes on. And like rollercoasters, it climbs to the peak then heads downward in a gut churning free fall. Love is about ebb and flow and using the rollercoaster analogy again, both partners need to be cranking the gears in order for the relationship aka the rollercoaster to continue moving forward or gravity will pull it back to the low point.
Relationships and marriage are about compromise without acknowledgement. How many times does a partner throw back at the other what sacrifice or compromise he or she made. That's not compromise. It's like giving to charity or doing something kind to those less fortunate. All the good of the act is lost when someone has to remind others of what he or she did. Ultimately, it comes down to selfish motivation.
Relationships are about being selfless and not selfish. It's about accepting the other for who they are including the idiosyncrasies and faults and bad habits. But it also assumes that both partners have similar value systems that align well. Values are the core our our being. It's the little details and beliefs that are formulated as we grow up passed down by parents, religion and our own experience to determine what's right and what's wrong and to be honest about it and not compromise one characters. If both partners don't share those same values, then the relationship is doomed. Each partner in the relationship must be considerate of the other and have a willingness to suck it up, accept certain faults, and more importantly, be willing to discuss things with an open mind when conflict arises.
Communication is paramount to a successful relationship. We've heard this over and over ad nauseum probably to the point that we're desensitized. It's a bitch to talk things out amongst partners sometimes because we all have the incessant need to be right-to have the last word. It's human nature. But communicating means listening as well as speaking. It's keeping an open mind to other possibilities while also being solution oriented. I know so many people that focus on the disagreement that they don't discuss the cause. For example, I was watching the news the other day regarding social networking and how it's causing strife in marriages. Husbands and wives are having arguments regarding each others' friends list. Oh brother!! So what if the wife has an ex boyfriend as a "friend." Get real. It's social networking, those two shared history at some point in their lives and there may be a bond we don't understand. But it doesn't mean she's going to hop in bed with the guy or does it.? I know it happens but what does that say about the strength of the relationship? As a partner, it's important to trust the other. What harm is an email to ask how you're doing? Now it can get ugly when sexual advances and innuendo are passed around. But going back to the beginning of the topic, it's about communication. It's important that one doesn't lie about having an ex on their social networking but if he/she knows it's a sensitive issue with their partner, it's good to advise them that you've friended someone. If it's a huge issue, then discuss it and come to a decision. My take is that unless there was some super bad history, then let it be. It shows trust. It also shows trust in a relationship to respect the others' privacy. How often do we hear of partners reading emails? Emails are private just like the conversations on the golf course with your bff or the happy hour with your closest friends or bunko night with girls. We all talk about stuff that may be misconstrued if taken out of context. It's called guy talk or girl talk. Emails are the same thing. Let it be. Now if the relationship is going south and one has reason to believe the other is cheating that's another story but don't go conjuring up that belief just to snoop on the other's FB account or email.
No back to the topic of Eat, Pray, Love. Liz couldn't love another until she loved herself. Liz needed to discover who she was and resolve the guilt inside of her as well as opening her mind up to possibilities without having to try and control every aspect. It's the desire to control even the things beyond our control that lead to dissatisfaction. Ketut, the Indonesian teacher, says it well: "Do not look at the world through your head; look at it through your heart." I think he's saying, feel life, do not try to rationalize it.
Ketut goes on to say: Sometimes to lose balance for love is part of living a balanced life. Again, this wise sage is trying to get across that life isn't a steady boat ride. Once must not shun their emotions in the search for balance but rather risk losing balance to achieve balance.
Life and love is not rationalization but a realization that we are always on a path of self discovery and success comes through selflessness rather than selfishness.