Posted in Everyday Musings, God Loves Me!, Love Life

Judging a Book by Its Cover: When a Woman Desires to Be “Just” a Wife and Mother

This is short, perhaps just the beginning of an idea, a discussion.

It’s partly about the word “just,” especially when it means “only” and carries the implication of a self- or externally-imposed limitation.

It’s about choice, even when others think your choice is beneath your potential.

It’s about judgment, and others’ failure to recognize that most of us have more or different dreams waiting behind the scenes to become the focus of our lives and choices.

A friend of many years recently revealed two things publicly that have been received with strong responses:

  1. her dream was/is to be a “classic American” wife and mother a la June Cleaver, and that this is her American dream
  2. she recently filed for divorce from her husband

Responses to the second all follow in the same vein: sympathy, compassion, prayers, offers of support.

But responses to the first revelation have raised eyebrows and generated various levels of judgment that her dream is wrong, undesirable, bad, as well as condemnation of examples of newer variations on the American dream as entitled, lazy, absurd, and more.

My first response was personal:

I congratulate your choice to want and to strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, and mother, though I am baffled at the idea that there is only one American dream, the one anyone refers to as “the” American dream. I would prefer that no one impose any dream on my life and choices, much less a uniform “American” one. I would also prefer that no one judge me for my choice of dream, but as God didn’t grant me control over others’ minds, alas, judgment happens. I love you, sister, and pray for you support, comfort, and peace as you make your best choices moving forward into a new life situation.

But my continuing ruminations led me to wonder what kind of man does God direct as a match for a Proverbs 31 woman. A simple Google search for led to mostly articles and commentary on a Proverbs 31 husband, but my favorite presentation referenced Ephesians 5 and really focuses on the man’s role in lifting up his wife the same way Proverbs 31 focuses on the woman’s actions and choices. Be sure to click on the “Ephesians 5 husbands” in the Searches related to “husband for proverbs 31 wife” at the bottom of the results.

25 gHusbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and hgave himself up for her,

26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by ithe washing of water jwith theword,

27 so kthat he might present the church to himself in splendor, lwithout spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.1

28 In the same way mhusbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,

30 because nwe are members of his body.

31 oTherefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and p the two shall become one flesh.

32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

33 However, q let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she r respects her husband.

I’m truly privileged to say that I can easily name 20 men in my regular circle of friends whom I believe and have witnessed who are Ephesians 5 husbands and women who are Proverbs 31 wives. I try hard to be a Proverbs 31 friend. And I dearly pray to God to send my friend her Ephesians 5 husband.

This is by no means the end of this discussion – whether in my own meditations with God or out loud with friends in person or online.  I welcome your thoughts and especially your prayers for my friend and for all people to find the passion and acceptance to pursue the dreams they choose.

Posted in Everyday Musings, Love Life

Rebounders (aka, can guys and girls be friends?)

Hmmm…sounds like it might be the title of a great sitcom, right?

So, how many times have you had or been the rebound relationship? I guess a better question is “what is a rebound relationship”? I mean, what function is it supposed to serve versus what actually happens?

Caveat: I am a classical economist, a political centrist, so in my mind there is only “what is” and almost never “what should be,” mainly because no one has let me be in charge of the universe yet. Then I’ll (or you’ll) get to decide “what should be” and then make it happen.

That said, what is the function of the rebound relationship? Technically, a rebound only follows a relationship that made it into the serious, big “L” love, on the way to marriage and kids and til death do us part level. Doesn’t have to have gotten than far for both parties, and generally that’s why the pre-rebound relationship ends. So you, assuming you are the one who believed in the happily ever after-ness and still in that mindset, find a lovely person to whom you can transfer those feelings. Rarely are they real, but they are so strong that you can’t just stop on a dime. It’s all bottled up inside you and you need somewhere to stow them. So you meet and date a fun, fantastic person; you might even meet his/her friends and family on some group dates.

Thing is, that love really belongs to someone else, not your rebound.

I mean, think of the word itself, re-bound. The primary definition of “to bound” is bounce. Add the prefix “re” and you’ve got a fancy way of saying “bounce back,” as if you’ve just fallen down and you are bouncing back up. Another way to use it is straight out of basketball…means exactly the same thing…ball is thrown for the basket and misses (relationship #1) and someone else catches it and tries to score. Yes, sometimes the person who threw it also catches the rebound; that’s the relationship we’ve all seen at least one of our friends in, where the pair break up and reunite over and over again, rebounding with each other.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, my rebound and I just “broke up.” But first, the man I love and I had to break up. Before that we had to be in a relationship that included the connections that lead up to love.

And that’s precisely what happened. The thing is, I knew I was in a position to be a great rebound girl for someone else, but I never considered how much having a rebound guy would benefit me.

And boy, did I get lucky. My rebound guy had his messy, nasty, self-esteem shattering break-up about six months after I had mine. Okay, I admit, that’s not really how mine happened; we loved each other but had very different expectations about how things could or would happen to move us toward something more than just loving each other…that life together. I spent about four days crying and not eating over mine, but an amazing snuggle of friends supported me through that. My rebound guy wasn’t so lucky; that is, his ex spent about two months viciously shredding him to pieces, everything from how he looked to his career choices to his age, even hitting so low as to suggest he was a shame to his family. I know this because he and I were friends, just friends, through all of this. I even took care of him a couple of times when he was so busted up that he needed help.

But earlier this year, we were talking about our relationships with others and our relationship with each other. He and I share an intimacy that is uncommon among men and women, that rare “best friends” intimacy between a man and a woman. We wondered if there was something more, so we consciously decided to take some time to see if there might be something more there.

I still had my love for another man bottled up, nowhere to put it, but had been meeting up with this friend for “date-like” occasions.

He had several years worth of love for a women who now hated him, and nowhere to put it. I even met her a month or so before the 2-month-long break up began.

Might as well see if we fit. So we had dates. For events and especially family occasions, we attended as an unspoken couple. In fact, that was key for us; we never declared to anyone that we were a couple. But we are both guilty of not correcting what we knew was their assumption.

So for the past five months, we’ve spent about two weekends a month together, usually one with his family and one with mine (we live in different areas of the state). And it’s been rare that a day goes by that we don’t talk, even if just a little. We do little special things for each other.

But the fact is, we did all of this as friends, when we were each seeing other people, in love with them, in fact.

I’ll admit, I’m less guarded than he with my feelings and let myself enjoy and show my joy in spending time with him and loving him; I even told him that I love him a few weeks ago. That’s the tricky part. I do love him, and I know he loves me. But it’s easy to mistake our intimacy with the kind of love that makes people want to make a life together.

So last week, my rebound guy and I “broke up.” I have to put it in quotation marks because we were always just seeing where our special, rare intimacy boundaries were.

And the best part is, there is no one else for either of us right now. We “broke up” because we simply aren’t into each other that way. I love knowing that we simply aren’t “the one” for each other rather than came in second place to someone else.

And I have to admit, I was worried about the conflict that would flare up inside of me if I really loved two men with the same intensity. Because I do still love my ex, in a way that makes me want to make a life with him.

So what did I get out of this rebound relationship? That’s an interesting question, and I’m not sure I know all of the answers to it yet. But I learned to have fun with a man, just fun, no expectations. To open myself up to new experiences, not just the ones that we share but the ones that could become important parts of my life. To share myself openly with someone else, knowing that I could be hurt but trusting his care for me and that his honesty is something I can trust. Perhaps I learned that the kind of man that I’ve always dreamed of finding and loving really does exist, isn’t just a figment of my imagination.

It would have been so nice and easy if he and I could have fallen in love with each other…the marriage kind of love. It’s certainly what both of our families and friends were rooting for. But it’s not what happened.

The Moral of the Story: the rebound doesn’t have to be a bad or dangerous relationship to be in. I still think I make a great rebound girl, as long as I know I’m in that role. I’ve dated and stayed friends with many men who found me just as their marriage was busting up. Being honest with each other about having a good time and enjoying the companionship can make a rebound relationship fun!