Posts Tagged ‘durability’

In this hurricane season I’ve seen a lot more unyielding hardwood trees littered broken on the ground than I have those softwood trees that can bend and give with the wind.  It had me thinking about the nature of strength when it comes to relationships.

Proud, stubborn, unyielding

I used to think that strength was all upside, and always found myself drawn to strong women.  My mom is a strong woman, and had to tap her reserves of strength and determination to deal with a husband — and later ex-husband — who made life difficult while trying to raise two kids.  I think me & my sis turned out pretty well, and I give nearly all the credit to her providing such a solid bedrock for us.  She showed me the plus side of what a strong woman could be.

My ex is a small woman, and when I first met her I found her petite frame cute and adorable… but once I got to know her better it was her strong personality that really hooked me.  She was no shrinking violet or wallflower– she’d walk into a room and not know a stranger, laughing and talking, flirtatious with a warm and inviting body language.  Outspoken, confident, stubborn and proud, I found her strength magnetic and irresistible.

Women in America were for so long forced by society to be demur, subservient, supportive and secondary that today they are encouraged to foster strength, independence, forcefulness.   I used to really find that attractive in a woman, but the intervening years have changed that to some degree.  I think there’s a point where that sort of strength can become a weakness of sorts when it comes to being a good partner with your spouse or significant other.  Independence transforms into being too proud; forcefulness morphs into stubbornness.  What works in solitary mode becomes detrimental to a relationship.

As an example… it’s my nature to want to help people, I get a lot of pleasure in it.  In most relationships, kindness and compassion would be a virtue.  So when I see my partner doing something in which I could make it easier to accomplish, or together we could knock it out faster, my instinct is to offer to help.  This is one sort of reply I would expect to that offer:

That’s alright, I’ve got it– but thanks for asking!

When pride and stubbornness gets in the way, the reply instead is:

No, I’m perfectly capable of handling it myself.

Basically transforming my offer to help into something insulting.  What should normally be a no-brainer, all-upside offer to help instead becomes a prickly minefield.  Do I not offer to help and end up looking like an inconsiderate asshole, or do I offer to help and end up looking like a patronizing asshole?

When one partner wins and the other partner loses, the “unit” gains nothing.  Rather, if each partner is willing to compromise and find a result which both are mostly happy with, the “unit” gains something– a strength found in durability.  Some things in life aren’t meant to be a zero-sum game, and with effort and flexibility there can be win-win.  In fact, I’m pretty sure a healthy relationship is impossible without flexibility and compromise.

Now, I realize that on a broad scale men are the ones much more likely to have issues of pride and stubbornness that complicate relationships, but there are women that succumb to that as well.  Here’s hoping the next woman in my life is strong in ways that are durable and flexible, so that we can survive the harsh winds of life and continue and grow together, rather than lay brittle and broken by the side of the road when things get rough.

Durable together

Have you found pride and stubbornness to be big problems in your past relationships?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: