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Zoethe

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Relationships: UR doing it wrong [Jul. 30th, 2008|11:48 am]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

Ferrett wrote a sweet journal entry the other day expressing his appreciation that I am sticking with him through thick and thin. My reaction upon reading it was, well, of course I am; I love you. But I found myself disturbed by the tone of some of the responses. One theme boiled down to, "Well, she better because she totally owes you for putting up with law school."

It would never have occurred to me to "connect the dots" between those two events.

I will be eternally grateful that Ferrett put up with me through four years of schooling, through many long evenings alone and me arriving just in time to go to bed and do it all again. Throughout the whole time he supported me and loved me and took care of me. There is no way that I could ever make that up to him.

But if I hadn't ever gone to law school, I would be just as supportive of his writing and Clarion as I am now. Because I love him and want his happiness as much as I want mine. When he had his crisis of faith this week, I suffered right along with him - I spent much of Tuesday curled up in bed, miserable for him as he worked through his pain.

This has nothing to do with law school and anything I owe him. A relationship can't succeed if the partners are continually "counting coup" to make certain that neither of them is receiving more "goodies" than the other.

He doesn't get Clarion because I got law school; he gets Clarion because it brings him closer to fulfilling his dreams. That's the only balance sheet in the equation.

The other theme went something like, "It's odd to express so much gratitude; after all she's your spouse. That's what spouses do."

To which I say, wow, you must be a dick in your own relationship.

A lot of people are not terribly supportive of their spouses dreams and desires. Yeah, they should be, and it makes me sad when I see people who sabotage their spouses or make fulfilling their dreams so onerous that they can't enjoy it or just give up. Sometimes their goals are incompatible, and someone has to compromise.

Anyone who isn't grateful to their partner for support is taking way too much for granted.

Ferrett didn't have to be grateful that I am here for him. But by being grateful, his grace is redoubled: he understands the gift and therefore is less likely to overlook it.

In a healthy relationship, support and gratitude are not a zero-sum game; I don't lose ground by being grateful, nor by giving support.

Neither of us owes each other. We simply want the best for each other. So I will continue to tell him that I am grateful for all the ways he supports me, and he will express his gratitude for the ways I support him.

And we'll both be better for the exchange.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: trinity3x
2008-07-30 04:35 pm (UTC)
I once knew a lad who kept receipts from the entirety of his relationships and mentally kept track of her expenditures. Upon breaking up, he'd present the lady with a bill to cover the delta. I gently suggested to him that this "tally" was destroying his relationships and he'd be better off just enjoying them. Whaddya know, he met "the one" when he finally let go of his counting.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 05:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, no relationship is going to survive that kind of tallying. That's insane.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2008-07-30 10:26 pm (UTC)
Personally, I don't think that's "selflessness". I think it's "partnership."

It's not that you're being "selfless", I think. It's just that you have a concept of "self" which can include the other person, as well.

You have to have both, you know? You have to have an identity as yourself -- but you also have to have an identity as the partnership. When Zoethe helps Ferrett, she's helping herself -- because they're connected. When Ferrett helps her, ditto.

In the best relationships, I think, both partners manage to be greater than they possibly could be on their own. I know that I'm vastly . . . more than I could be without my wife. I'm, y'know, myself, only more so, and better. And she says that she's the same way because of me.

And I also think that both partners have awe and amazement at how their partners help them.

That's what I'm reading from them, anyway. A sense of both of them being greater than they could have been alone, and both of them feeling deep gratitude for that.
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[User Picture]From: stripedsocks
2008-07-30 04:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes.

I wish I could have written this. It's beautiful.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 05:28 pm (UTC)
It took me quite a bit of wrestling with it to get it. I'm glad it came across right.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 05:30 pm (UTC)
It took me a couple days to be able to construct the words explaining it without sounding dickish myself! It's one of those subtle-but-important concepts.
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From: wildcelticrose
2008-07-30 05:00 pm (UTC)
Wow, some people's perceptons are so skewed... (and you're right, some people are dicks)

When you said that he had written a lovely post expressing gratitude, the first thought that came to my mind was, "Oh, that's really sweet."

I guess I'm not as jaded as I'd like to make myself out to be...

Although I really don't hold out much hope that I will find a relatonship like that, I am happy to see others that have.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 05:31 pm (UTC)
Believe me, I don't take it for granted.
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[User Picture]From: kisekinotenshi
2008-07-30 05:01 pm (UTC)
I think some part of me has always been terrified that if I did get married, I would never be able to do anything for my partner. Let me explain that statement. A few years ago, while doing some general research on voice stuff, I stumbled upon a paragraph that I still remember today, concerning what it's like to live with your voice. That paragraph explained that to be a classical/opera singer, you must always put the needs of your voice ahead of any other needs. It's like having an invisible twin, one that will always be more important than anyone or anything else in your life. And it has been known to break up friendships, relationships, and even marriages sometimes.

Now, I am a naturally selfish person, as I believe most people are. I do things to show my love for others, and I make sure the people I care about most know that I will be there for them when and if they need me. But I think, based on my chosen profession, that whoever I end up with will have to give up a great deal more for me than I would for them, and that bothers me. I know that my parents had an uneven marriage (my mother was constantly giving things up for my father, he never gave anything up for her), and I saw how painful that was in retrospect (my mother never complained while it was happening, but she's been a lot happier since she recovered from the divorce), and I would hate to have anything like that. Because if some situation came up where it was my voice or my spouse, I couldn't even hesitate. My spouse would always lose that battle. And that sounds too painful to me.

So yes. I believe that's part of the reason I never intend to marry. x.x I don't think I could ever put anyone's needs above the needs of my voice, not if I really want to be an opera singer.
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[User Picture]From: wyrrlen
2008-07-30 05:08 pm (UTC)
Have you read the story of King Midas? Most people have, or at least think they have the gist of it. I'd search out for the fable and read through it. In the darkest and most literal versions, he gets the gold but loses everyone he loves.

It makes us question if a thing could ever be as valuable as a person, you know?
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[User Picture]From: radiantsun
2008-07-30 05:03 pm (UTC)
I don't read ferrett so I missed his post . . . but this post of yours made my eyes moist. I have to say i agree with everything you said.
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[User Picture]From: kmg_365
2008-07-30 05:09 pm (UTC)
One theme boiled down to, "Well, she better because she totally owes you for putting up with law school."


Seriously?

Maybe I'm an old fashioned square or a douche bag (or a combination of the two), but my love and support for my wife is unconditional. We don't issue each other IOUs, or keep a tally of good/supportive deeds to make sure we net out in the end.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 05:37 pm (UTC)
Seriously. It completely floored me.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2008-07-30 05:45 pm (UTC)
Dan and I get that too.
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[User Picture]From: anivair
2008-07-30 06:04 pm (UTC)
A good point and well put. I have to admit, the second response makes more sense to me than the first, but I suspect (and I hope) that I'm unsurprised by your support because I would do the same. I don't think it's odd at all that you're supporting him, nor would I have thought it odd that he supported you through Law School. it's admirable and it makes me happy about your relationship, but if someone were in a relationship where those things were not the norm, I would be a bit afraid for them.

Really, the only thought I've had about your relationship through the clarion thing is that it must be difficult to be apart for this long. I'm not sure I'd respond as well as you both have (though I have not been in my current relationship nearly as long, either, which may help).
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 06:51 pm (UTC)
To be honest, we have both spared LJ a lot of our whining and general misery - it's very hard being apart this long, and it's not getting easier.
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[User Picture]From: celamity
2008-07-30 06:12 pm (UTC)
I suspect you are both miscontruing and have been miscontrued (and I also suspect I have used up my quota for the year of the word 'misconstrue')
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-07-30 06:08 pm (UTC)
I am so jealous of your relationship. I would give my right arm to have my spouse support me the way you two support each other. I try to be that supportive of him, but it often feels like giving to an eternal black hole.

Congratulations on your success in your relationship and I wish you many more years of happiness.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 07:10 pm (UTC)
That is a hard place to be. I wish you luck in finding your way.
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[User Picture]From: celamity
2008-07-30 06:09 pm (UTC)
I hope you and Ferrett realize how adorable you are :)

I never comment much anywhere, but I enjoy reading both your journals, and especially when you talk about each other. (It reflects, in a way, how my own husband and I feel about each other)

(Incidentally, I've supported my husband for three years, and he moved around the planet for me, and neither of those things are why we love each other, or cause any 'debt of affection')
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 06:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks. And I'm happy for you, too!
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[User Picture]From: stefsoap
2008-07-30 06:09 pm (UTC)
I love reading his posts about you and how much he loves and appreciates you. He expresses it beautifully. Expressing gratitude always enriches any relationship. You said it beautifully.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 06:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: cinema_babe
2008-07-30 06:12 pm (UTC)
Dear Lady,

That was the most eloquent way I think I've ever seen to tell a bunch of rude wankers to suck it. Good for you.

Signed,
A Random Internet Stranger
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[User Picture]From: lorriet
2008-07-30 06:26 pm (UTC)
I second this comment!
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[User Picture]From: mystic_savage
2008-07-30 06:15 pm (UTC)
Both of my parents were lawyers, but they never approached their relationship with an idea of quid-pro-quo. That could ruin a lotta love right there.

My guess, though, is that most of the comments were from people just trying to make a ferrett-connection or be supportive and they hadn't really thought through the implications of what they were writing.

My take on the whole thing is that you're very lucky to have each other, both conscious, both intelligent, both thoughtful, and both loving.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 07:05 pm (UTC)
I agree that we are both very lucky to have found someone we click with so well.
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[User Picture]From: shezan
2008-07-30 06:18 pm (UTC)
I'd like to know what those dicks' personal lives look like. Can't be very pretty...
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[User Picture]From: twfarlan
2008-07-30 06:20 pm (UTC)
a) Well said.
2) or b) Icon love, pun intended.
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[User Picture]From: fortuna_juvat
2008-07-30 06:35 pm (UTC)
Nick turns vaguely purple when people start pulling the "Cool you found your meal ticket!" shit on him. His usual response is something along the lines of "Because I couldn't possibly want to be with her because she's fun and wonderful."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 07:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, people are jerks.
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[User Picture]From: gina
2008-07-30 06:38 pm (UTC)
Well said!

You guys have, like, the healthiest relationship I've ever heard of. :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 07:07 pm (UTC)
It too a lot of work to get here, believe me. We were pretty messed up for a while. I feel very grateful for where we've gotten.
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[User Picture]From: caudelac
2008-07-30 06:46 pm (UTC)
I didn't leave a response, but if I had, it would have been, "thank you for appreciating the patience of others, esp. when you're in your own private Doom."

It's worth so very much.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 07:08 pm (UTC)
It definitely helps.
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[User Picture]From: uplinktruck
2008-07-30 06:58 pm (UTC)
You have never been more right. The minute you start "keeping score" in a personal relationship, it is over.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 07:09 pm (UTC)
There is balance to be had, though. You can't be a doormat, either. Both partners have to be generous.
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[User Picture]From: mamculuna
2008-07-30 07:09 pm (UTC)
You need to be writing the marriage counseling columns in the mainstream press. Right, and right again! Love means giving because giving to someone you love is not a sacrifice. It also means never taking their gifts to you for granted. So well said.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 07:14 pm (UTC)
Precisely. And I don't think I'd be good at writing the advice columns - I'm much too pragmatic.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-07-30 07:15 pm (UTC)
You and your wife also have an awesome relationship. And yeah, we will have to get together when da weasel returns.
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