Nouns and Verbs

I’ve spent time reflecting on the meaning of words. I started with the word “partner”. I refer to Martin as my partner. We’ve agreed we will never marry, and it seems awkward to call a nearly 60 year old man my ‘boyfriend’. “Partner” fits.

But, it’s more than a noun. What we do is partner – it’s an action. We join together to spend our free time, make decisions, travel, play games, share our lives. It takes effort. I wondered if getting labeled “husband” or “wife”, and forever being a noun, is a hinderance. How do you ‘husband’ or ‘wife’? They aren’t verbs. Partnering is an action and something we choose to do.

It’s the same as “love”. I think, too often, things go wrong when love spends more time as a noun – a thing – rather than an action. When we stop the practice of loving, the noun ceases to exist. It takes effort to keep the noun alive.

This week, I’ve been reflecting on the word “network”. I’m at a stage of life where I have a large, supportive network both personally and professionally. Again, to get to the noun, “network” was first a verb. I had to make the effort to meet people, talk to them, and find a connection.

I know there are some who ‘collect’ people to add to their networks. With social media and LinkedIn, they try to get as many people following them as possible. It’s more about the numbers than the connections.

For me, I need to know the people. There needs to be connection – however tenuous in some cases. Maybe I met them at a conference five years ago and we’ve never seen each other since. Still, we shared time and space. We had a conversation. We had to “network” to become part of a network.

I guess, what comes from my reflection (another noun/verb word), is a reminder to actively work towards the things that are important to me – my partner, my loves, and my work.

Evergreen – Sharon’s Take On It

 retaining freshness or interest : perennial. b : universally and continually relevant : not limited in applicability to a particular event or date.

I read Vanessa’s post today about finding meaning in the song “Evergreen” and it got me thinking about my interpretation.

My first reaction was “Ha! Right – love everlasting.” If you’ve read my posts over the past year, you know that hasn’t happened for me. Each time, I thought it was FINALLY the “evergreen” relationship – one that would stand the test of time, weather storms, and maintain its individuality – while being part of a forest ecosystem – for its natural life.

In my experience, it’s not been love everlasting with one person. Each time, it was fresh and interesting – absolutely. Each time, I thought it was forever. Love is a basic human need; one that is universally and continually relevant. While many people put everything into making their wedding day special, love is not applicable to that particular event or date. It’s in the day-to-day living, the little things, that keep it fresh and interesting.

The Universe timed Vanessa’s post perfectly. It came a few days after Martin and I talked about what love means to us, and a day before our two year anniversary.

Martin and I are past the point where we believe love is eternal. Like the evergreen tree, it can be perennial if nourished and continues to grow, but there’s no certainty. A fire can take out a forest of evergreens. A landslide can rip them out by the roots. A drought can stunt their growth and, over time, starve them. The best we can do is see ‘evergreen love’ as a possibility and strive to make it happen.

We make it happen by having shared interests and experiences. We explore new things and places together. We have a shared understanding of what love means and similar expectations as to where it will go.

As a concept, “love” is ageless and unchanging. The reality of it is anything but that. Love changes over time. At the beginning, partners can’t get enough of each other and want to spend every waking minute talking or being together. I remember when Martin told me he loved me. He HAD to talk to me everyday while he was at work. When on night shift, he’d wake 30 minutes early to have time to call me. You need to know he is someone who despises talking on the phone and is chronically tired when working 12 hour nights. He’s a true introvert and very comfortable with solitude. Such is the power of love in the initial phase.

Over time, we become familiar with each other. As the saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt”, OR, it can breed deeper love. Now, we agree to talk twice a week when he’s at work. We text twice a day. If we were stuck in the first phase, this would be upsetting for both of us. It’s not. Our love has grown. It acknowledges both his needs and mine. We reach compromises that work for both of us.

Unlike the evergreen tree who is at the mercy of Mother Nature, we choose to continue growing together. If either one of us stops nurturing the relationship, it will die. It’s a joint effort. This isn’t to say the effort is always equal. Sometimes we each need to put in more to keep the relationship working. It’s acknowledging and respecting the efforts of each other that’s important.

Just as an evergreen can’t take necessary amounts of rain, soil or sunshine for granted, neither can humans assume love will simply occur. It’s not a result of a particular day or time. It’s the result of care, attention and opportunities for growth that keep love truly “evergreen”.

It’s the Little Things

Martin and I are in Kelowna visiting his dad. We are coming up on two years together and, as we sat in the hotel’s sauna watching sweat drip from our faces, I reflected on how far we’ve come.

We joke about “You know this isn’t a new relationship when…” or, “You know the bloom is off the rose when…” Off the top of my head:

  • You sit in a sauna and see who can get ten drips of sweat off their face the fastest.
  • Your boyfriend says, “You’ve got a chin hair” and reaches over to pluck it.
  • On a particularly tight turn past Rogers Pass, you tell your boyfriend, “Could we try to take it on four wheels this time?” (because you’re no longer convinced clenching your butt cheeks together will keep you on the road).
  • You pee with the bathroom door open so the conversation doesn’t have to stop.
  • Your boyfriend offers to give you a pedicure and, upon seeing the calluses on your feet tells you, “You don’t need a pedicurist, you need a farrier!”

It’s the shared moments. When we think of these things, we smile or laugh. I like that we’re past having to be on our best behaviour all the time.

I’m very fortunate. In addition to these funny moments, I’ve got a guy who:

  • tells me daily that he loves me (usually, several times a day)
  • loves to cook (and takes all my dietary restrictions into account)
  • gives hugs and kisses in public whenever the mood strikes him
  • helps around the house without having to be asked or expecting thanks
  • makes an effort to understand what I do for a living (to most, it looks like I sit at a computer all day….well, I do…)
  • actually listens when I talk and doesn’t try to “solve” things; instead, he asks questions and shares his perspective
  • helps me take my dad to medical appointments so I don’t have to go into the mens’ room when Dad needs to pee
  • buys plants for my home because he knows I like them
  • puts my feet on his lap when we’re on the couch watching TV
  • falls asleep with his arm around me

We’re sitting together on the couch and he asks, “What are you thinking about Bubaloo?”

“I’m trying to think of a way to end this blog.”

“Try: The End”.

Sometimes, he does have an answer to my problems.

A Date With Myself

I spent the day at Chestermere’s first music festival. It felt so good to be outside and listening to live music again.

As I looked around the park, I realized I was one of the very few people on my own. Most were part of families, couples or groups of friends. At one time in my life, this may have felt uncomfortable. Not anymore.

For too many years, I’ve felt lonely in my marriages. Everything would start out great, and after a few years, we’d be living like roommates. There is nothing worse than feeling abandoned by the person who swore to love you. I’d manufacture a life that suited their needs in an attempt to create togetherness, but lose myself. Maybe, in their own way, each man did love me but it wasn’t what I wanted or needed for myself.

Fortunately, I’m strong enough to know what I want. Thus, the reason I’ve left three marriages. I’m not one to stick it out “just because”. I didn’t up and leave. I talked to my spouse(s). They knew what I felt was missing and how unhappy I was. We tried counselling or relationship coaching. Each time, in the end I decided I’d rather be on my own than married and lonely.

As I sat in the park tonight, I reflected on my current relationship. Martin and I met after my ex-husband and I opened our marriage. At the time, I was actively dating and starting to believe I was polyamorous. Martin knew I was dating other men while we were developing our relationship and he encouraged it. Even after we realized we loved each other, he still thought I should see others because he’s away so much. He was concerned I’d be lonely and didn’t think it was fair to me to have a part-time boyfriend.

If I was afraid of being alone, I may have agreed to this. Most of the time, he works a 7 on/7 off schedule. The last two months, it’s been 11 on/2 off. Right now, it’s 14 on/4 off. Do I wish he was home more over the summer? Of course. Would he have enjoyed a day of live music by the lake today? Absolutely. Did his being away stop me from enjoying it on my own? No.

Am I polyamorous? No. I’m a serial monogamist. I love one person at a time until it doesn’t work for one or both of us anymore.

I’ve chosen Martin and our relationship because I love him. I cherish the time we have together, and I cherish the time I have alone. I have a wonderful life and am very glad he’s a part of it.

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