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Expectations and Relationships
Throughout the years I have witnessed some truly amazing relationships. Christmas 2009 I was invited to my grandparent’s apartment in Montreal, Canada. There I think I learned something priceless that I probably could not have picked up on or understood had I not been in a place where I could notice and appreciate the sanctity of such a relationship.

My grandparents on my mother’s side have been married over 50 years, and I wasn’t sure at the time why, but the one thing I really enjoyed were the “fights” they had around the house. They were almost playful, such as who misplaced the envelopes. One particular merriment culminated in my grandmother whispering in my ear to, “Ask your grandfather if he found them,” as she smiled, almost giggling. I think I only now realized why I loved being around them. Maybe to them, this was their way of not only keeping their life interesting and their happiness plenty, but keeping each other connected to everyday things and kept them working at their relationship, loving, and respecting each other.

They got married in a different time, sure. The fifties are well thought of as a time when men and women got married, had children, and raised them well and worked hard especially in the middle or lower classes. My grandpa from what I’ve known pretty much thought, “I want to date her,” when he was ready and ended up marrying her. My grandmother was more interested in the social aspect of dating, but nevertheless they both came from Slovak families and were very connected to their backgrounds.

Their marriage endured what I’m sure were years of challenges, not only with outside factors that came with the changing world, but three children, and most definitely some challenging years. I wondered sometimes if it was just easier then because it was a different time, but I think it’s more relevant to think about the kind of commitments people made. It was not acceptable to divorce, so people made decisions to marry for better or for worse, and it included a close connection to family, so that all were accountable and kept honorable. It may have not been the best situation for all, some stuck in abusive or substance-abuse ridden relationships, but it did have positive outcomes for many.

While I know many people either emphasize independence or coexistence with someone they love, can one relationship contain both types of people? My grandmother seems to always have been more ridden with some anxieties and dealing with social settings in more formal context. My grandfather makes her laugh, and as a salesman all his adult life, he makes friends anywhere and everywhere. My grandmother could go and leave him almost anywhere for hours and within minutes he’s got a new friend. In some ways they are both very connected- he still dropped her off in front of the store while he parked. He always made sure she was comfortable and that she had everything she ever needed, and many things she wanted. I know that he may be considered more independent, and generally less in need of persistent companies of people. I wonder if, in their earlier years, he was even more independent. However, when I found out my grandmother was in the hospital over new years, he was a very distraught man.

I believe that so many young and older individuals now have a misconception or skewed view of what marriage can or should be. So many are drawn to a fantasy that one day you may find a spouse that makes you always want to be around them and that they will or should always accept you for exactly you. Perhaps people getting or that have gotten married should accept each other, but to expect to remain static (the same) and not be challenged or challenge a partner is a great casualty. Yes, one may be drawn to the ease of other friendships, whether it is because they face difficult hurdles and many “friends” don’t expect anything of another. However, while I would want to be loved always, to understand or gain perspective from another person could potentially be a window for something you never even imagined you could have.

My father told me, many times, that the reason he married or chose my mother was because she didn’t look, like so many women he had met, for him to tell her what to do. If my mother needed to go back to school cause she couldn’t attend the university nearby, she went back to Montreal for 6 months. They would write, but nevertheless they did what they needed to do, at least as far as I would know.

I feel like when I left for college, my mother and father, while we did have some seemingly deeply seated issues or differences of opinion, there was some consistent factor. No matter how or who may have struggled with the course of action they agreed on, they stuck together on their decisions. I know those must have been some of the harder years of their marriage, coming together on decisions on how to figure out what they wanted to do with me. Perhaps that means that if I ever get married, and I do say if, that it is more important to stick together with your partner and be a consistent and loving coherent force than to openly argue, fight or keep any secret from a partner, no matter the “noble” cause.

If I’m ever lucky enough to share one lifetime with one person, I don’t even think I need a conventional stereotype. I want a true friend, one that sticks by me and tries to honor me as I try hopefully even harder. I want to witness someone’s life and die with love deeply saturated in every particle of my last breath.


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