My grandmother got married when she was 15. This year, when she lost my grandfather, she told me, “I have known nothing else since my teen years. I have always taken care of him. And now? What am I supposed to do with all my time?”
She had spent all her time giving, taking care of him, never complaining. She told me he wasn’t one who believed in romance. She wouldn’t describe their relationship as romantic. At the same time, it must be noted: there wasn’t a single day my grandfather didn’t have her at his side. They traveled the world together, he took her everywhere. Even in old age, within the house, he always had to know her whereabouts, because he couldn’t stand to be away from her too long.
My dad does not buy my mother flowers, write her poems, kiss her in public, or hold her hand. But he does go with her every other week to Jacksonville where she teaches dance to give her company and moral support. He’s always in the front row with his camera to take pictures of her and video tape when she puts on dance or music performances. He comes home every day for lunch to eat with her, whether she asks for it or not. Instead of taking her out on cutesy dates, he is a family man, so caring that he takes his daughters and son-in-law along on vacations.
These are the images of love that I’ve grown up with, and to me, they are great examples of consideration, affection and steadfast commitment.
I don’t believe in mind games, cheating, jealousy or “Girls’/Guys’ Nights Out.” The more I notice couple dynamics among people I know, the more I see that it’s one’s ego, pride, and selfishness that get in the way of giving oneself completely to another. These days, in an attempt to save face, seem strong and independent, too many people put up walls as defense mechanisms. It’s led to a culture of people who, in an attempt to avoid being labeled “whipped,” make it a point to have a night out with single friends of the same sex, regardless of the influence (cough, cough, threat) these single friends may possibly pose to the current steadfast relationship with their significant other.
It’s led to a culture of people who regard only the superficial actions as “sweet” or “romantic,” but the truly sweet or selfless acts as “clingy,” “needy,” or as indicative of “not having a life.”
Someone once told me that relationships are never equal, that one person always “wears the pants,” has the power, and the other party is the one who is “whipped,” so in love that he or she loses all self-respect or sense of self. He told me one person always loves the other person more.
I can’t agree with that. Yes, many (too many) relationships do fall under this category, but can you really consider those relationships worth holding on to? Love isn’t a contest to see who gives in first, or who loves the other more. Nor does it automatically make the person who loves more “weaker.”
Sure, perhaps some people may consider it unwise to grow too dependent on someone else in this day and age (chance of divorce over 50%….). But the most successful relationships I’ve seen are actually the ones where both parties give unconditionally, without letting their pride get in the way of giving everything they possibly can.
So this Valentine’s Day let’s drop the roses, the candles, the hearts and cheesy poems. Instead, let’s not hold back. Let’s love unconditionally without fearing the other person may gain the upper hand. For once, let’s not let our egos get in the way of something good.