I often wonder what it is that makes a relationship a winner … and I am afraid I cannot give you a glib answer, because I don’t think that there is one single answer.
I believe that a relationship is a contract between two souls that they enter into before they are born. It does not matter whether they are married or not – a marriage contract is part of this dimension, whereas a relationship is the result of a contract that was concluded without signatures in another dimension.
I recently had the opportunity to observe various couples, and they confirmed for me that a relationship is a disguise for another agenda.
The first couple claimed to be good friends. The lady is a good friend of the family, and the man is recently widowed. I had only met her once, and before the man arrived with his family, she went out of her way to explain to me that she was a good friend of his deceased wife, and she helps the family where she can. Why was it important for her to tell me this?
Then the man arrived. I did not want to be in the way, so I moved to the other side of the swimming pool from where I observed them.
The body language of the two together told me that not only were they not “just friends”, but that the feeling was mutual. His adult children were also there, and even though it is less than a year since their mother passed away, they were friendly and receptive. The man is prominent in his profession, and I will watch the newspapers for the wedding announcement …
I then encountered a married couple with a small son. It was obvious that they both adored the child. It was also obvious that there was something else going on there. She is a black woman from an exotic island in the Antipodes, and she is very beautiful. When I looked at her, I wanted to cry because of the sadness around her. She was not only terribly homesick – she clearly was at a loss.
Her older husband is a mixed-race South African who spent most of his time outside of the country. His dream was to “retire” by changing one very active career for another very active career, and he approaches everything he does with zest and enthusiasm – and alone.
It did not take him long to spill his guts to me – probably because when I met him, I made a comment that resonated with him. It turned out that she was disillusioned with her “African dream”, and he was disillusioned with her disillusionment. He was also fully aware that he misjudged when he thought he had captured her heart – while she had left her heart somewhere else and she was pining.
I wanted to hug them both and tell them everything will be OK, but I am not so sure of that. They have a beautiful child to raise together, and they will do it, but I cannot imagine that either of them will be happy as long as they live under the same roof.
In this instance the contract between them has nothing to do with living happily ever after. It has everything to do with integrity and dealing with change and challenges – much more than it has to do with love. And the challenges have nothing to do with their mixed-race marriage. In this country that is no longer an issue.
The third couple I observed also have a mixed race marriage. He is Italian and probably immigrated to South Africa when he was a small child. She is what is known in South Africa as “coloured” – in other words, with white and black ancestors. My impression was that they fell in love when they were both mature (and probably after failed previous marriages) and they are so happy that I felt like crying with joy when I saw them together. They both radiate goodness. Uproot them and put them in any other country, and they will settle down with zest and win over all the locals with their enthusiasm for life. They will keep their sadness about being childless to themselves and discus that in the darkness of the night, when they are snuggled in their own cocoon against the world.
Every single relationship has an agenda. It is very seldom that the agenda has to do with superficial things like race, age or gender. During the relationship, the two partners rub against each other – like smooth river stones until they fit together perfectly, or like jagged rocks until either they are smoother together, or until the river of life lets one of them flow away while the other remains stuck. The agenda has to do with more important things such as integrity, respect and self-respect, adapting to change, managing challenges together, growing separately and together, and finding that place where your heart opens up because of the place where you are and the person who is with you.
I have seen those as well – like the two middle-aged men who walked hand in hand, looking radiant, the long-married couple who cannot keep their eyes and hands off each other, and the mature couple preparing for a second marriage when they both believed that they had had their one chance of happiness when their spouses died. Believe me, they have their own challenges, both as individuals and as couples.
Love is Love.