Understanding Relationships (??)

Now here comes the big ones. Relationships! We all got ’em, we
all want ’em. What do we do with ’em?Jimmy Buffet in Fruitcakes

In relationships, regardless of their nature, there comes a moment when you understand that there are some things you will never understand. When you are standing in that moment, just be all right with itIyanla Vanzant, preface to July in Until Today!

You know that when both Jimmy Buffett and Iyanla Vanzant have something to say on a subject, it’s a matter of importance to all of us. In this case, Jimmy asks the questions, Iyanla (one tongue-twister of a name) has an answer.  A good one, by the way.

If you’ve been coming around Bud’s Blog for a while, you know that I’m a reluctant fan of Iyanla Vanzant. In fact, in my post Power(less?) as I talked about books I read daily, I compared Vanzant to Kaopectate because she frequently gives good advice in an arrogant way that doesn’t go down easily. It doesn’t help, either, that she was an Oprah creation, a fact revealed to me by my wife after I bought Until Today!  As a result, the book spent the better part of a year hidden away on a shelf before I started reading it again and it still occasionally galls me that she’s an Oprah clone. Yes, Oprah has the same she’s-sure-she-knows-what’s-best-for-everyone arrogance. Since I avoid reading about Oprah and any of her disciples religiously (if you’ll pardon the expression), I didn’t know that she and Oprah were feuding, and wouldn’t you know it, now that I found out, they’ve made up again. Drat!  This paragraph, by the way, is brought to you courtesy of my Inner Curmudgeon.

Back to relationships. Wanting to be understood is so much a part of what we want in a relationship that it’s practically a cliche. How many movies have you seen where the man about to cheat on his wife offers the lame excuse, My wife doesn’t understand me? You think not? Just try Googling My wife doesn’t understand me and see how many hits you get! Of course, for men … and women … being understood is a two way street. It is impossible to be understood if: (1) you don’t know who you are yourself; and (2) you are unwilling to be intimate in the relationship. No, Homer, not sexual. Intimate. To be intimate with someone means making yourself known to them which, in turn, requires dialogue, transparency, vulnerability and reciprocity. Yikes! A tall order. Sometimes it’s just easier to say, She doesn’t understand me but if you want a good relationship, don’t expect easy.

And even if you do everything right, you still can reach that point Vanzant predicts … your wife, lover, or friend just doesn’t understand you, or you them. Hello?  You never fully understand anybody.  Muri will never understand why I sit here writing for a few dozen readers and I will never understand why she likes television. My good friend, Barry, doesn’t understand how I can be politically conservative and I will never understand how he can be involved in PETA.  The way to be, as Iyanla says, just all right with what we don’t understand in the people we love is Acceptance. No, everything is not acceptable, but in important relationships, Acceptance bridges the places that understanding can’t. That’s a good thing.

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4 Comments on “Understanding Relationships (??)”

  1. muri Says:

    Yes it is a good thing and is sometimes what makes a relationship last!

  2. Constance Says:

    I often enjoy your insights, Bud. I think in relationships we also tend to forget the reality that opposites attract. That being the case, while we will alter and change in our relationships, there will always be idiosyncrasies in our mate that will drive us batty. All we can do is strive to find a balance that allows us to appreciate ourselves while respecting and enjoying the company of our loved ones.

  3. Cheryl P. Says:

    That is a very complex topic….relationships. I think that for a relationship to stay strong and healthy another word has to exist in the same sentence. Committed…I think all relationships require a commitment of the people involved to work through the bad times, appreciate and treasure the good times, and respect the times that you are just are at different places. If I were to use an analogy, I’d compare it to a river. Sometimes running smooth and lazy, sometimes crashing over the shoals, and sometimes split down the middle going around an island that forces it apart only to come back together on the other side. After 40+ years together I expect that both hubby and I would tolerate some white water without reaching out for someone elses life boat. If he reached out for someone elses boat, I am going to sink it….with both of them in it. (figuratively of course) AND somebody better save him if he says it was because I didn’t understand him. I understand that phrase is an excuse to cheat.

  4. undividing Says:

    I warned you that I was backlogged with my blog reading – but I figure you’re probably like me, that a late comment is better than nothing 🙂 I like this idea of just being okay with it, of letting the difference be there, acknowledging its presence, and allowing it stay. Good post : )

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