I was dining with my niece at Balboa Pizza Company (in Henderson, NV), and she said how so much of what we learn about relationships, is from watching our parents. Considering that approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce, this is a scary thought. Neither she nor I grew up in a home where there was respect, love or friendship between our parents.
She's in her twenties and trying to find her way. I'm not, but I recall those same years trying to find mine. I spent them jumping from one dysfunctional relationship to the next. As I stood in front of my elders, a bleeding heart in hand, the conversation typically went like this:
"Why does this keep happening to me?"
"Don't worry, lots of fish in the see. The right one will come along."
"How will I know?"
How is this helpful?! Why didn't anyone, in ten years, ever say:
"This keeps happening to you, because you were taught that if you don't get your way, you shout the other person down until they cave."
"This keeps happening to you because the only reason the two people who raised you stayed together, was 'for the kids.' Love and respect for each other went out the window six months after you born."
"You will know the 'right one' when he gives as much as you do. Not necessarily at the same time, but at the end of the year, the score should be zero to zero. If you're the only one giving, GET OUT!"
"You'll know he's the right one when he treats you as kindly as you treat him. If he can't, say goodbye and go live your life until a loving fella enters your world."
"If a potential partner tells you that they are no good - RUN!!! They know themselves. Trust them. Do not assume that they're misunderstood. RUN!!!! I tell you RUN!!!
As it turned out, the right one did come along disguised as my friend (add that to the list). How did I know he was the right one? Every time we took the next step, dating, engagement, marriage, buying a home, it felt right in the pit of my stomach.
I told my niece all of these things, as I have 294 times before. Her eyes glaze over like they do when I tell the same story over and over again. Really, the most important thing each of us can do? Teach those coming up after us to relate, remembering that they hear little we say, but watch every move we make.