As a man, it can be fully liberating, and often damn confusing to ask women for advice regarding relationships. It is, however, one of the only ways one can fully assess what the other side of the gender aisle is thinking. Although our good comedian turn relationship guru, Steve Harvey offers advice to women, I found that women need to hear or read from other women just as much as men do. In this effort the discussion can be lain bare without the sensationalism that comes from those seeking career advancements. In that vein, I’ve asked four women of Asylum to record their thoughts regarding relationships. The third of these four perspectives is proffered by Asylum Staff member, @chey_marly_mom. As always, these are not necessarily the thoughts of Owl, but they are the thoughts of Asylum. Please respond with the same respect you would any member of Asylum. But this sister doesn’t need that, she can make you feel really small through a screen without my help…
Freedom from Danger… Security in Relationships.
Obvious disclaimer: It would behoove readers to consider that there really isn’t a
definitive standard for how all couples develop lasting relationships. The criteria for
establishing the coveted “comfort zone” in a union whether marital or without contract is
subjective. The purpose of this post like all conversations in the Asylum is to challenge
the thinking behind social norms and behaviors as they relate to our ideas about
relationships and commitment.
With that said, can we agree that the most significant aspect of successful relationships
is believed to be indubitably rooted in the concept of “security”? If we survey men
and women alike and ask “What specifications have to be met before one makes a
commitment?” The answers whether formed by subconscious societal conditioning or
introspection likely consist of a myriad of familiar adjectives for desired attributes in
one another… Such as trust, honesty, dependability, responsibility, accountability, etc.
All words with definitions entrenched in the simplicity of Merriam Webster’s meaning
for “freedom from danger”… in a word, Security.
Before I go any further, I think it is befitting to state that I am a twice married mother
of two beautiful little girls and stepmother to an exceptional young man. My husband
and I have been together for almost 11 years (courtship and marriage combined) and
have worked very hard to establish what people too often presume to be the “perfect”
blended family and relationship. In actuality, the conception of our partnership defies
every acceptable notion of the societal model (read: fairytale) that typically dictates
whether or not a relationship would be sustainable. Neither one of us were actually
seeking a relationship when we met. Not to mention one that required such significant
considerations as my impending divorce and single motherhood, or his precarious past
and potential relocation from one city to another with uncertain employment prospects.
With those odds (and others) seemingly stacked against us, we survived our first year
long distance and ultimately decided that “freedom from danger” meant that we would
begin our journey toward a lifelong commitment with both our names on one mailbox.
Whether or not we could coexist in the same living space and pay the bills in our joint
mail receptacle would be the primary prerogative and the litmus test for future, far
greater and risky considerations such as growing our family & marriage (yes, in that
I did preface this post with the suggestion that oftentimes our ideas or “thinking” about
what it means to BE (exist/live literally) in life and particularly in relationships are
shaped by various concepts prescribed to us in the societal realm. Our thoughts about
security more often than not entail a litany of prerequisites that are not necessarily
self assessed. Our rearing is laden with ideas about what a successful relationship
looks like. We are programmed to aspire to ideals presented to us from untrustworthy sources, like the media. Models for everything from gender roles to the acquisition of
stuff make an impression on how we pursue happiness. From the Knight in shining
armor fantasy, to the submissive and attentive superwoman wife and mother narrative,
our wants (not to be confused with needs) are programmed into our psyches.
I say all this to say what?
Are we doing ourselves a disservice with certain expectations? In relationships are
we asking ourselves what “freedom from danger” means objectively? And how we are
affected by what it means to others (i.e. friends, family, loved ones, strangers even)?
Is there consideration for our attempts to attribute expectations that are not our own
upon our mates? Are the material components to these ideas exceeding spiritual and
emotional connectivity? Can our quest for security be satiated with all encompassing
mutual respect, consideration and love alone? Why? Why not? And finally… Do we
even know what we want? Or need?
I mean let’s keep it 100… Self-actualized people have realistic perceptions of
themselves, others and the world around them. There is a lack of acceptance of
realism in our society. The ideas and images we entertain contradicted the scope
of our realities. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have dreams, goals or aspirations
nor am I suggesting that there shouldn’t be deal breakers of the moral kind when we
make determinations about our lives and the people in them. But we feel inadequate
if we don’t do what other people do, or acquire what they have, or think they have.
That judgment from AND of others is leveraged by insecurity and deprivation of self
evaluation. When ones needs are murky and wants are definitive… danger is eminent.
I don’t consider myself an idealist by any means. Well not anymore. I’m a realest. My
first marriage failed partly because it was influenced by societal falsehoods that became
impossible to uphold. Acknowledgment of authenticity has been a transformative
exercise that has contributed to the dismantling of ideas and societal pressures formerly
subscribed to my life. Happiness and “freedom from danger” have been its reward.