As I ponder all of the relationships I've had in my life, from a failed marriage to short-term dating - even to the one night stands - I feel that I can faithfully and honestly say there are three requirements to maintaining a strong, committed relationship. It's easier for me to say since I've finally found my soulmate; easier since I can objectively look at my past, take ownership of my part and really understand that none of them had the three must-haves. Most of them had one of the three. Some of the "longer" relationships had two of the three. But it wasn't until I married my husband that I hit the jackpot.
Head * Heart * Sex
To form an allegiance and develop an alliance to and for one another, three out of the three are necessary. Let me explain.
While no two people think exactly alike, and no two people share the same exact path, it's vitally important to have the same destination and be somewhat on the same intelligence plane. This doesn't mean having the same education level or being in the same line of work. Think of it more like an intimate meeting of the minds and finding out how to effectively communicate with one another.
My husband is a very linear thinker. Philosophically speaking, his mind works by staying grounded and in search of logical truths. Think of the Socratic Method of critical thinking.
If A = B and B = C, then A must also = C
And though I have a tendency to compartmentalize everything, my thought process is more like bird shot - an explosion of ideas that I get to visualize, think about, and tuck away into its box. It's taken me time to figure out how to effectively communicate with my husband because he gets from A to Z in a nanosecond while I'm trying to figure out where the heck B, C, D...went! In other words, he feels like he's making logical decisions and sometimes I think he's jumping to conclusions. But knowing that about him was half the battle.
Now comes destination. I may not know how he got from A to Z but I know he has our shared interests at heart and I trust his judgment...even if the path to get there confuses me.
So, our end goals are very similar even if our path to get there is different or paralleled.
Think about what you have in common with your significant other.
Do you share the same destination and goals?
Are you equally intelligent?
Can you have tough, frank discussions?
Is there the capacity to agree to disagree without fighting or resentment?
Are you best friends?
"Sometimes I'm terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts." - Edgar Allan Poe
Ah, the heart. It's what poets write about. Songs are sung, wars are waged, and people generally go crazy. The heart is such a difficult thing. We call it love - that feeling of affection and attachment. How many bad decisions have been made because of the phrase, "But I love him/her!"
Of course the heart is vital to a relationship, but love is really about intimacy and should never be mistaken for lust. Most people protect their heart and only let a choice few in the inner sanctum. But the heart is also a trickster with the capacity to persuade the head that "this is the one."
How do you know when the heart is true?
From Good Will Hunting
SEAN: One night her fart was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and said, "Was that you?" I said, "Yeah." I didn't have the heart to tell her.
WILL: [laughing] So she woke herself up?!
SEAN: [laughing] Yeah! She's been dead two years and that's the shit I remember...wonderful stuff. These are the things I miss the most, these idiosyncrasies that only I know. That's what made her my wife, and she had the goods on me too. She knew all my picadillos. People call these things imperfections. That's the good stuff. That's what intimacy is all about. The only way you find that out is giving it a shot.
Isn't that the truth?
Indeed sex is a critical part of the relationship equation. I'm not talking strictly about the act of sex, but the intimacy of touching one another.
My husband and I had a rockin', hot start. The sex was great! But we've been married for a while and have known each other since I was 15-years old. That doesn't mean our sex life fizzled out because we love each other less. We actually find greater pleasure with a back or foot rub. We're always touching, whether it's a kiss, a smack on the butt, a caress... When I touch my husband, I feel energy and connection. To touch his bare back is comforting, like a child with their woobie.
Sex, by default, is the most promiscuous and apathetic must-have of the three. Good sex feels AMAZING and don't we all crave amazing things? Yet, for some, it's like an addiction. But, in my opinion, the act of sex is like a comet shooting across the sky. It's beautiful, bright, and soon disappears. It's something that should be enjoyed and revered.
Without the foundation of the head and heart, sex alone is just an act. It may feel good, but where is the intimacy? When it's done, are you able to hold one another? Can you look into each other's eyes and feel satisfaction that you are bound to one another?
As I've mentioned in the beginning, all three are necessary for a strong, committed relationship. Jest being intellectually connected may leave the heart and body wanting. The body is willing and often coaxes the heart, but doesn't always influence the mind. The heart speaks to your mind and helps discern if the time and energy is worth investing in another person. When you have all three things working toward the same person - and the feelings are mutual - you may find an imperfect person who is absolutely perfect for you. But the bottom line is really intimacy; the ability to give and take equally in all three areas in order to have a full sense of familiarity and strength with each other.
"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope." - Maya Angelou
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