TAG | Valentine’s Day
You may be thinking “What’s the value in reading people’s thoughts on what a healthy relationship means to them?” The value is that we all have similar wants, but the vast majority of people are deaf to other’s internal needs.
Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to open up to what really makes for healthy relationships. At the end of the day (and I don’t literally mean Valentine’s Day!) it’s a win-win better – than chocolate fountain dipped marshmallows with zero calories!
Did You Know?
Approximately 141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.
To victims of domestic violence or abuse Valentine’s Day may represent a rare reprieve from abuse and or be a part of the “honey moon” phase when things in the relationship are temporarily stable, but the abuse is lurking around the corner.
I asked friends of mine for their thoughts on what a healthy relationship means to them. It was wonderful to have them share their most heartfelt sentiments:
A healthy relationship is one that enhances and adds to your life, never changing who you are.
All relationships are healthy if you use them to learn about yourself and grow.
Life is too short to waste hating anyone
You don’t have to win every argument, agree to disagree
Make peace with your past, so it won’t screw up your present
If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it
Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie, don’t save it for a special occasion
Today is special
No one is in charge of your happiness, but you
Life is short, eat dessert first
Spend time with those you love
Donna H. (who got it from a 90 year old woman).
I found my perfect mate later in my life. I was forty something and found someone who make me laugh every day. I can say we are a shining example of mutual respect, and he is my most trusted advisor. He may spin his responses for sensitivity sake, but he is nothing if not always honest. I am blessed every day to have him. Respect, Integrity and Humor work for any type of relationship.
Healthy relationships don’t just happen. They take work. Any relationship – whether it’s in your office, your personal life, with your partner, your children, or extended family – needs nurturing. First comes listening, then add humor, followed by empathy.
Karen Cortell Reisman
A healthy relationship is one where each other’s ideas, suggestions, concerns or even quirks can be discussed without fear of retribution.
To trust someone and for him to trust you back is the greatest fulfillment in life.
He loves me for who I am, even when I do or say something really stupid. At least we can laugh about it.
My best friend is my husband.
My best friend is my sister – she’s always there for me!
What do you think? Would you send me your thoughts too?
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
(That was pretty puny…)
OK. Let me start with this: I am NOT calling out anyone on their personal choices. It’s just a perfect time to make a play on the whole Cupid thing; and that there are relationships that just shouldn’t happen.
The whole idea of cupid is that there’s this cute little cherub with a bow and arrow. He/she/it would fire away at a couple unsuspecting souls and ping! They’d be in love with each other! But where was the dating and taking time (lots of it) to really make sure the other person was a respectful individual, capable of a long term healthy relationship? There wasn’t. That’s all well and good in fantasy land, but not in real life.
In my book Battered and Abused – Bringing the Darkness into the Light, I had asked women to submit stories about their abusive relationships. (The book also contains national resources and information about abusive relationships).
Men – before you get up in arms about the fact that there are no men’s stories about how they were in relationships with abusive women, let me tell you this: I distributed the same request for stories letter to men as I did to women, all within the same week. The letter stated I was working on a deadline and the due date for stories. Not one man submitted his. But they had equal chance to be heard and included.
What I have included below is just the beginning of each woman’s story to give the sense of how insidiously all this starts.
Domestic abuse is more common than you think. I was a victim of such abuse in my first marriage. He was too smart to ever hit me because that would leave a mark. Instead I was verbally abused and threatened on a daily basis with such things as being incarcerated in a mental institution for such things asking him for money to help pay the bills. He was also obsessed with guns and wouldn’t even go to corner store without having a loaded gun hidden underneath the car seat. He also used to brag about brandishing his gun at other drivers, and loved to video tape himself in full camouflage firing all his guns. What finally made me leave was coming upon a stash of rifles that I didn’t know he had. A friend suggested that I should get out before he decided to use one of them on me.
Anyway, I divorced him and I came back to Phoenix. I virtually went underground for the first year or so that I was back. And would you believe that even now, after seven years, a new, (and terrific) husband and new last name, there is still a part of me that is worried that he may be able to find me again. I know the odds are low, but I don’t think you ever really get over that kind of fear. I was lucky in that I had a family to help me out, but not all women are so lucky.
Here’s where my story begins.
After dropping out of college, and at the age of 20, I moved into an apartment with a friend. I was working two full time jobs in order to pay all of my new found adult world bills. One of my jobs was bartending at a local club, where I met my “cool new boyfriend”. Not only was he a musician in the house band, but he was older, by 16 years, and “experienced”. Our relationship started off like any other. We dated, then it turned exclusive, and then we moved in together. Everything was great, until the day it happened. We got into an argument, and he slapped me so hard that I lost my balance.
You see, growing up, I would see movies about domestic violence, and I would hear stories, and I would always say to my friends “if a guy ever hit me he’d be out the door so fast he wouldn’t know what to do.” But that didn’t happen. He said he was sorry. He said he loved me. He said it wouldn’t happen again
In 2000 I was at the top of my game. I was a proud mother of two, post-divorce, and doing well at my career. I had been quickly promoted to National Sales Manager of a nursing publication. The day after Thanksgiving I went shopping to kick off the holiday season and then stopped at a trendy local bakery to buy brioche for the next morning’s French toast. At the counter I met the Operations Manager and we chatted over ciabatta instead of brioche. He was handsome, funny and at-ease with himself. He made me giggle, blush and feel tingly inside. I was instantly attracted to his charm and when he offered to give me his number instead of asking for mine, I was very impressed. I was mad about him after just one meeting over loaves of bread. We started dating and he did amazing things that swept me off my feet. Like clockwork, he brought me two dozen flowers every Monday when he appeared at my high-rise office in downtown Phoenix to take me to lunch. He was sweet, attentive, loving and supportive. He wowed me with stories of his troubled childhood and impressed me with how far he’d come. I was in love and emotionally invested. He convinced me that we were special, that we were lucky to have found each other in such a difficult world. We had lived in some of the same cities and were born only miles from each other. We talked at length of how we were destined for one another and the relationship seemed very magical.
On Valentine’s Day 2001 he proposed to me with a 6 carat Sapphire ring. When we had discussed getting engaged he mentioned to me that he wanted a ring so large that people could see it from across the street. He said he wanted the world to know that I was taken. I was naïve. I thought it was sweet and I was flattered. I now know that it was classic control rooting from a very unhealthy place. (more in the book)
According to Wikipidia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupid) Cupid figures prominently in ariel poetry, lyrics and, of course, elegiac love and metamorphic poetry. In epic poetry, he is less often invoked, but he does appear in Virgil‘s Aeneid changed into the shape of Ascanius inspiring Dido’s love. In later literature, Cupid is frequently invoked as fickle, playful, and perverse. He is often depicted as carrying two sets of arrows: one set gold-headed, which inspire love; and the other lead-headed, which inspire hatred.
Have you ever thought about how Valentine’s Day (VD) and Domestic Violence (DV) are opposites in every way? Maybe we should send our Unicorn after that mischievous Cupid and have him just fling that bow and arrow right out of his hands.