Joy of the ordinary

Anyone who has been partnered over ten years or more will tell you there is a point in the relationship that you fall into a rhythm especially once you add kids into the equation. In the early days of a relationship you are caught up in new relationship energy and everything feels shiny and brand new. Yet you can’t share a life with someone without that new relationship energy fading away. Many times though when that new energy fades away and the day to day rhythm takes it place, in our fast paced world we start to think something is wrong.

The early days of a relationship can never quite be replicated because at a certain point the two parties in a relationship know each other. Oh, they may still be holding back deep secrets and truths as I did for so long before those truths threatened to destroy our marriage yet even when I was holding back, the Spousal Unit knew it…he just didn’t know what exactly it was that I was holding back.

Yet in the past few days I was reminded that the greatest joy in being partnered can happen because our partner knows us, when we reach that place where words are not necessary. That place when your body has needs but your mind says no, yet when you are truly connected your partner knows not only your mind and spirit but your body as well.
I was reminded of this a few nights ago, when I decided to hit the bed early and the ole man joined me, a rarity for him since he is truly a night owl! Words were never spoken yet needs and desires were fulfilled. I found myself marveling at how despite never saying the words, after sixteen years together the Spousal Unit knows me and I know him.

The decision to partner and raise a family is hard, there are times when you want to pull out your hair and run far the fuck away. There are moments when the messiness of illness, debt and just life can threaten the very foundation of a relationship but when the commitment is there and the desire to rise above it all is strong, the rewards are the sweet moments that frankly in our culture we don’t talk enough about. The fact that after so many years the very ordinary can still be sweet and take your breath away, in a time when others particularly outside forces will tell us that the ordinary is boring.

On this long holiday weekend, I choose to revel in the ordinary and feel blessed that I am fortunate enough to share this journey with a life partner who still can make me grin like the silly twenty something year old I was many years ago.

The hookup?

Its early up here in my little corner of the world, in fact we haven’t even gotten the girl child off to preschool yet. So I am sitting here reading my paper online, sipping a cup of hot delicious coffee and listening to NPR. This is pretty much my routine everyday, consume caffeine and consume news….the world doesn’t feel right unless I do those two things early in the morning.

Anyway this morning, I heard a report on NPR about young folks and hooking up. In case you are like me and a tad old, and not familiar with this term it basically means young folks no longer date or even have a random one night stand. They just hook up, they get their sexual needs met…by the way the hookup may or may not involve intercourse unlike say a one night stand. Though it does have a sexual aspect to it.

See, it seems dating is just notdone. You have your crew of buddies that are your friends and then you have folks you might want to get the hook up with….hook-ups apprently are not meant to evolve into a relationship. In fact they had a young man speaking about how costly a date can be, that he doesn’t bother to take a young woman to the movies after all its at least $43 to $50. Wow! It seems the women don’t expect a date either…

Look, I hardly had a vibrant dating life as a teenager since I was a Black girl in the 1980’s in a predominantly white setting and that was before interracial dating became the norm, so that meant that I rarely had any dates. However as a young woman in my twenties between husbands (remember I married the first time straight out of high school) I did have a chance to date and the norm was for a man to take you out on a date. A date consisted of a meal, some entertainment maybe in the form of a movie, a a play or stopping to hear some live music. On this thing called a date, the man paid for the date….look I am a equal opportunity woman who considers herself a womanist but at the heart I am still old fashioned and expect men to pay. Heck even my best friend who is a man pays for our outings even though I don’t expect it but he too is a old fashioned cat. The only man I ever dated whom I opened up my pocketbook to, turned out to be a less than honorableman. So yeah, I am old fashioned. If I became single today and a man wanted to go out but expected me to pay, it would not happen and if it did he would not be comsidered relationship material. He would be a buddy, not man material.

Anyhoo, back to this story..the interviewer spoke with folks from various backgrounds, Black, White, college-educated, not educated…they all seemed to agree that the hook-up is here to stay. One young woman admitted she wished for more but that was not how things are done these days.

Ok….putting on my Mama hat. What the hell is wrong with people? Look sex between two consenting adults can be a wonderful thing but generally it gets better, the better you know each other. I have  tried a hook or two type deal when I was single and as my Granny used to say…that’s for the birds. Connection is a beautiful thing. Its a once in a lifetime deal when we meet someone and connect immediately buy even those explosive types of connections are still superficial. After all you don’t know the other person. If you just need a release, get a damn toy. If you are a man, use your right hand.

What’s even more scary to me aside from the hook-up is how folks use social media to make the connection. It seems we can meet via a shared friend say on Facebook, we exchange texts and other messages and eventually we make the connection. Now if this was turning into an actual relationship I would have no issue with it, I have several friends who have met their partners online…that’s cool. No I am talking we meet online only to have sex and not even evolve into a friendship…sorry, I am officially old because that just seems sad and wrong.

No, as a mother it scares me to think that this is the brave new world my kids are in since elder boy is already there and one day girl child will be there.

So humor me…what are your thoughts on the hook-up? Is it a good thing or bad? Am I just being an old stick in the mud?

For the ladies especially the single ladies

My Pops used to have this corny ass saying “Don’t take advice on growing hair from a ball-headed man” now on the surface it seems rather cheesy but there is a bit of truth there. Case in point, I see both in real life and online, women who have never been married giving advice on men and marriage. Yep, I am about to go there. Look, we all are entitled to our opinions and thoughts but let’s be real, maybe getting your advice on having a man from someone with no man is a bad idea or taking advice from a man who has been married a few times and possibly stole his book idea from a woman (hello Steve Harvey) is also a bad idea.

I have been married 11 years, been with my husband 13 years, he is in fact my second marriage but I am his first. The first time I got married at 18 and it was just a bad idea, so I ended the relationship and marriage. So one could say I know a few things on marriage, my own parents were married 31 years, it was a true to death do we part situation.In the 5 years since my Mom’s death, my Dad has no desire to be with another woman, instead waiting to be reunited with my Momma when he dies. In fact he says that since her death, he no longer even has “those” thoughts and desires…

So I come from marrying stock as you can see, no missing Dad, shit at times when I was a kid I used to wish I could have a single parent home like many of my friends had, of course now I am thankful for what I had…we may not have had much money but I saw the blueprint daily on what a marriage looks like.

Oh, they had their bad times and good times, it was not all happy in the hood but they stuck it out and in some ways its those memories of how a marriage looks that keeps me grounded when I start thinking of flying the coop up here in Maine. Of course we get urges its just that as an adult I have to think about the choices I make.

Anyway I often see and hear single women particularly single Black women creating a checklist about what they want/need in a man…lets see most lists seem to include college-educated, good job (financial stability), attractive looks, no ex-wives, no baby Mamas, no Mama boys, no down-low history (that means he creeps with men at times for those not in the know), no prison record. I think that seems to sum up the list of requirements most women I know who are currently man-less seem to seek.

On the surface it seems like a good list, however as a woman who has been married a bit, that list makes me laugh, it seems so childish. I mean a man can start off with all those things but as life goes on shit happens. Shit, my own hubby is looking at a mid life career crisis, 13 years ago he met that list truth is life has gotten rocky. Thankfully the most important thing we have is friendship and love, its that love that carries us in these rough times.

I fear that many women particularly Black women have no idea of what is truly involved in marriage and we will create barriers to having relationships because we cling to some fantasy idea of what a man should or should not be or we base his worth of what he has, rather than his accomplishments as a human. Look, by all means no one needs to date or marry a hardened criminal, or share a no-good man…hell no! On the other hand I know some sistas who have their advanced degrees who only want a man with an advanced degree. I have a masters degree but truthfully if I were single and seeking a man, I would not require or need a man that matches me in education. Instead I would seek a man who is curious about the world and seeks out knowledge, there are a ton of assholes with fancy degrees who are intellectually limp. Once they got out of school, they were no longer curious or engaged with the greater world.

Also to have a relationship that lasts I think we must be flexible, I think inflexibility is the death of any relationship. You have to be willing to continue to redefine and renegotiate the relationship so  that it is mutually agreeable for both parties. I think when we are with a man and wondering if he is the one, you need to envision yourself with that man should his good looks start to flee, his amazing job and thus financial stability goes south and life throws you curve balls (death, any other bad things) yet you can still find yourself happy with that man, then he might be the one.

One thing I have  learned over the years is that life happens and it happens when we are making plans but those plans don’t always go the way we want them to…so look for a man that you can imagine being with when life is at its worse. Love is easy when all is well in our lives, the real test is when life sucks its at that point we know and learn what love is about.

Love is hard enough without setting up superficial requirments as to what we think we must have in a man.