February and valentines are like Bonnie and Clyde. For better or worse, they go hand-in-hand, ‘til death do them part. As clichéd as this partnership is, I must give proper attention to it if I want to truly engage in February.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer, “The Sex Doctor”
Like most I suspect, I wasn’t trained in the ins and outs of love, especially romantic love. In fact, I don’t remember being taught a darn thing about it, except when Dr. Ruth spoke at my university in the ‘80s. Only technically, she talked more about “the deed” than she did about love. She was after all, addressing college students. No, I mostly learned about romance through trial and error with a few heart surgeries along the way, plenty of discombobulated feelings, and the final blow, the dissolution of my 22-year marriage.
A present reconciliation (a story for later) is now teaching me far more than what marriage ever revealed. Maybe I’m a slow learner. At any rate, I now understand that love challenges us to love self and other, other and self, with strengths and struggles, accountability and grace; while also exploring, learning, and growing into better individuals and better partners.
The Yin-Yang of Interdependency
Love drives a hard bargain with its word “and.” It stretches us beyond “either or” into an expanded world of interdependency, something I mention in my book, Momentous Living.
“And when respectful exchanges of thoughts and ideas exist, so does honest, authentic, and trustworthy interaction, which ultimately fosters interdependent relationships that thrive through good and difficult times.”
Interdependency is a tricky word that necessitates singular and plural. It encourages individual growth, while simultaneously nurturing the relationship. Unlike with codependency or dependency (e.g. Bonnie and Clyde), interdependent couples are also capable of autonomy, not needing someone to care for or receive from to feel valued, resulting in a stronger and healthier relationship. I believe interdependency fosters love at its most meaningful level, a level that begins with self, not as in selfish, but as in self-care, self-awareness, and as in “better self, better world.” I’m paying more attention to interdependency these days.
Staying Present in February
And speaking of these days, I felt as if January arrived before I was ready. And then passed before I was ready. So now, in February, I figure the best way to be present before time once again slips by, is to enter the world of “and,” interdependently loving self and others, others and self.
Will you join me?