When we are in love, a rush of emotions takes us on a roller coaster ride. There will be ups and there will be downs and certainly there will be a lot of twist and turns. I never liked roller coasters. Oh, I loved the spinning rides that made me dizzy and I wasn’t afraid of heights, but it was the jerking sideways action when the fast-moving roller coaster took a quick turn that I didn’t see coming and leaving me with a pain in my neck.
Sometimes, even true love has a few of the neck jerking twists. If you experience a twist early in a relationship it could make or break it. While a few may have been scarred from the past and the first upset is a deal breaker causing them to run away from love, there are others who are steady enough in their own life to see it through.
I believe in asking questions - of God, of others and of ourselves. I believe in giving time and thought to something so important. I don’t believe that people are “throw away”. I think there may be times when we have to remove ourselves from people that prove toxic in our lives, but I am a firm believer that each person crosses our paths for a reason.
In a disagreement – what’s love got to do with it? If I don’t agree with someone or see things the way they do, is that a cause to un-love? We can’t gauge love that way. If there is a ‘down’ after so many ‘ups’ - is that a warning sign that it isn’t meant to be? Does love just stop? No. Love doesn’t have anything to do with people disagreeing or we would be unloving parents. I don’t know how many times I have disagreed with my children or even with Mama.
For the middle-ager, the person starting over or having had a failed marriage, it is harder to trust. Once burned, we are on guard and we do not want to be hurt again. It’s natural to try to protect ourselves from getting hurt, but in avoiding getting hurt we can miss so much that is good. If we never felt pain, how can we can feel at all? What goes up must come down – take the good with the bad, with sunshine a little rain must fall… we cannot expect love to always be a warm fuzzy feeling. Sometimes with love, there is pain.
I learned a few years ago, that pain is important and I am no longer afraid of it nor do I try to avoid it. Instead, I ask God what I am supposed to do with it.
After many tries with the online dating thing, I had started off by saying, ‘never again’ but I did try it again and I had resting moments where I just needed a break and I tried it again thinking I knew better how to deal with it. So I really felt that I gave it all the try I think I should. Overall, I don’t like online dating or the unnaturalness of it. I don’t like the feeling of making lists, deleting people in judgment when you really cannot know someone that quickly, and the whole backwardness of it all. There are some who like online dating and they like how they can eliminate all the things they don’t want in life. I gave it a try, but after putting effort in different circumstances and learning as I went, I really do not like it for me.
When I met Brian, it was through a mutual friend and everything just fit. We fell in love instantly and have been enjoying our relationship and courting so far. Though we are in love, we have been taking things slow. Sure, we have talked ‘future’ and even tried to map out our future and figure out God’s plan. We had even gotten ahead of ourselves in our own efforts and impatient as we talked about plans for the future.
During the infatuation period, (or what I call twitter-pated) we wanted to be together all the time and there was such a rush of excitement. The idea of being in love and the hopes for our future was exciting in itself, but to feel such a connection on so many things just made it so wonderful and … ‘perfect’. When love feels perfect, we have to realize that the key word here is ‘feels’. It is true, that love is a feeling but it is also an action. Love is ongoing and in continuous motion. If we base love on feeling alone, then we will surely come up empty. So you are in love… that is only part of the relationship.
Brian is the first person I have named out loud and had made a part of my ‘online life’ because I felt God’s hand in our relationship from the start. Even the most faithful, God-in-tune Christian can still get things wrong, but I believe our paths with people cross for a reason and so I have no doubt that God brought Brian into my life. There has been a lot of goodness in our relationship and a lot of growth for both of us. I do not regret opening up to this relationship and falling in love. We did hit a little bit of a rollercoaster jerk on this ride, but at this point we have not broken up and it might be that the roller coaster will be heading back uphill for another loop-de-loop. I am willing to find out. I may ask questions or pull back and think about things, but I don’t give up.
I won’t get personal or out loud with our relationship, but I will discuss relationships in general because I think it is important. I learn as I go, and maybe my articles have a “Truman Show” fashion, but we all go through these natural feelings or events in our lives and for those than can discuss it there will be those that want or need to hear it. There are so many middle-aged singles who are just ‘trying to figure it all out’ and, if we don’t talk about it, how can we learn from each other?
Getting hurt used to scare me. Being wounded would leave me feeling used up and worthless. But when I had a toxic marriage where I was belittled and made to feel worthless, I learned not to put all blame on the other person no matter how they behaved. I took responsibility that I had allowed the mistreatment and I learned my true value and worth - my worth without being attached to someone. I learned who I was as Jen Jeffrey and I allowed God the room to shape an identity for my own life alone.
Where the first half of my life revolved around another person, I have now learned that my life is significant on its own and that God has a purpose for me. If I am blessed to be joined in a marriage covenant again, it will only be with me still maintaining my own identity and not allowing my worth to be defined by another person. That is not to say that I won’t adopt certain interests of a mate, or certain habits or add certain things to my lifestyle that they have taught me, but I have learned that one single person – no matter how much I love them, does not make or break me. A relationship may make me ‘feel good’ at times, but when it makes me feel bad – that is okay too as long as it isn’t detrimental or toxic. None of us are perfect – we will say or do something that hurts another person. I think for the most part – none of us really do it intentionally though, and that is where we have to ask ourselves questions when there is conflict.
Was the hurtful moment or disagreement done with intent to harm? Was it said or done in stressful circumstances? Is there a reoccurrence of negative behavior and, if so, is it with a mean-spirited heart? Or is it just how another person deals with things? If so… is that something you are willing to overlook for the sake of having love?
It is scary for we who have had a failed marriage to trust moving forward and also to walk away from a relationship just because of a falling out – what if we never find that perfect of a union again? Is it worth throwing away? Isn’t love bigger than a squabble? At the same time, if we see a pattern we don’t like and we hope ‘it will get better’ so we overlook it … chances are… it may not get better. The circumstance or situation may be apologized over or perhaps only swept under the rug, but we could overlook something we really don’t need to.
When we feel love so strong during that excitement period, it is important that even if we feel it is meant to be, to always keep our eyes open in case it is not. The fine line though is that while keeping our eyes open not to scrutinize every fault or weakness of the person you love. Don’t discount them just because they did something like your former spouse. Don’t judge their reasoning or actions just because it may seem familiar territory. Hey, it’s tough… I don’t have answers and I am not Dear Abby, but I do want to share insight that I learn along my own journey.
It’s not easy to find love again at my age. This is why it is important to have our own identities. It is important to know who you are, what you want in your life, what you can deal with or cannot deal with and what your own purpose and goal for your life is. If you don’t, then you will attach yourself to someone and face pain that is a lot to bear. It is not someone else’s responsibility for your purpose or goals to be achieved. If you make it your mate’s responsibility, then you are putting something of value – your assets (and I don’t mean monetary) into a fallible human being. And if we allow someone else to put the responsibility of their goals or purpose onto us – we feel overwhelmed and we try so hard to please and to take care of them as we let ourselves become invisible.
Those of us who are givers and who don’t want to be selfish, fall into this predicament a lot. We think it is our duty as someone with a good heart, to take care of others. I am a giver, I love to take care of others, but I also know the importance of taking care of myself and others taking care of themselves.
I love the oneness of marriage. I loved being a wife, but after two failed lengthy marriages, I am more cautious today because I have learned a great deal from my past and I am not one to continue in the same mistakes. I have pushed many pursuers away that I knew were not good for me, or if they have come in my life at a time that was not right. I had to take care of myself.
It would have been easy to jump into a relationship after my divorce, to make my life easier and, sorry to say, I do know a few women who feel security comes before love. We all want security in life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that should be the attraction. I was married to a man who was somewhat successful and I found that money was the most important to him – over integrity, honor or love. I resolved that I would stay away from men with a nice bank account. I lumped them all in one category - “mean”. That wasn’t fair, but it was where I was at the time. I would say that I just wanted a broke cowboy who didn’t care about money.
Being able to take care of yourself and your spouse is important, but wealth is not. Having ambition and drive is attractive - greed is not. But being indolent or having apathy is also not attractive.
There is no hurry for me. I may be getting older but that is no need to rush my future plans. For now, I enjoy exploring a relationship that means something to me, but I don’t have to have all the answers out in front anymore. Time is my friend.