There are a lot of lessons that I’ve been trying to impart on my son over the last 10 years, and it is definitely nice to see now that the hard work over the past decade is in fact paying off, but just as interesting are the lessons he’s gleaned unintentionally, simple through observation. My favorite one that falls into this category is his comment the other day that the number one lesson he’s learned about relationships is that “you shouldn’t marry your opposite, it won’t last.” So true– I only wish I’d realized this in grade school!
It is easy to see why opposites attract– someone different is interesting, fun, and maybe sometimes a bit of a challenge. It’s exciting to see the world through their eyes– you get a totally different perspective from them. Also, for those of us that like to debate and/or test limits, the ability to do this with someone that does not think the same way you do is way cooler. For quite some time these games can be a blast, trust me, I have tried this theory out a couple of times. Yet in the end, the result has always been the same– the very reasons I might first have been drawn to my opposite are the same causes for the demise of the relationship.
Sadly, love does not conquer all. For it to last, you need trust and respect, which fundamentally cannot exist with someone that doesn’t share the same core values. Don’t underestimate the importance of how critical it is for you to be on the same page with your partner on major issues regarding what I consider the Big Six: (1) finances, (2) career, (3) family, (4) friends, (5) religion, and (6) sex. If you don’t trust or respect the way people handle the Big Six areas in their life, your love will simply not last.
For years, I admit that I felt guilty for not modeling a happy, intact marriage for my son, who was 2 years old when I got divorced. And perhaps as a result of that guilt, on a couple of occasions over the last several years I tried much harder than I should have to fit a square peg through a round hole, until I just couldn’t deal anymore. Ironically, this may be the best life lesson that a child from a divorced parent can learn: there is no point in being with someone if you aren’t happy. Rather than be miserable, it is actually an okay choice to be alone and hold out for that special someone who will love you like there is no tomorrow.
So, in the last few weeks I’ve actually come to accept that while I may not have modeled a happy marriage for my son, I have succeeded in modeling a happy independent life. Over the past 8 years, he has seen first-hand the importance of having a good career, being fiscally responsible and making time for family and friends. He also knows that even the best of us can make mistakes, and the key is simply not to let those setbacks drag you down.
Now it’s time for me to learn from my son’s astute observation. Perhaps the thrill-seeker that keeps getting lured by those unlike her should stick more to her own kind.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.