“May our faces, when worn, be defined by smiles lines and twinkling eyes.”
~ Forrest Keith
I am a father, a widower, re-married, a stepfather, a grandfather, and against my wishes, a divorcee.
These days I am living happily-ever-after with a divorcee who is also a widow.
I have loved and lost more than most.
I learned of love during the “free love” era. That’s when trying the greener-looking grass on the other side of the fence had recently become socially acceptable (to our generation) due to the freedom that contraceptives and near-eradication of sexually transmitted disease had brought to our society. AIDS was yet unheard of.
I moved from my childhood home into a love van with my high school sweetheart to drive across the country to Oregon. She had family there and had lined up a job. I had been accepted to a college there. She got an apartment near her job on the far side of town, on her dime. I had a dorm room and full meal plan on campus on the far other side of town, on my parents’ dime. I got my class work done during the week and then made the drive to spend weekends with her. She found another guy during the week. Love life lesson number one.
In hindsight, we were not a great match. I of course nonetheless will always have that first-love love for her. I was not her first.
After that year of college, I moved back home. Then I quickly took a job as a live-in orderly in the first group home owned and operated by United Cerebral Palsy. (Ask me about that story; it’s lovely.) I did some dating over that summer and fall while I saved money to attend the University in my hometown on my own dime.
As the weather cooled, the sister of the other live-in orderly in that group home was waking up next to me. His lady had her clothes in his closet. His sister had her clothes in mine. The girls were good friends. Just as I first started to feel the sort of love that included thinking of a future with that beautiful free spirit, she and her clothes were suddenly gone. Free-love days lesson number two included my learning that communication is much more than living together with warm laughing and hot snuggling.
Not many months later, I was sharing a home with a love that did include deep communication –unpracticed, but deep. We began planning our life together. We were both in college while working jobs and sleeping too little. We were happy when we weren’t stressed, but we were stressed most of the time. I recognized years later that our deep communication was mostly heavy and melodramatic as a sappy movie.
After a drunk hit us one night on her side of our car, putting her in the hospital for months, her mother then convinced her to move away from me and back into their home. After she was gone, I was able to see and learn how love is blind to poor matches in coupling and in drama. I see now that her mother saw that then.
Not long after that, I was making enough money that even after paying my rent, tuition, and books, I had nicer clothes and a nicer car than most of the other college guys. I also had a platonic girlfriend roommate that I shared a much nicer place with than most college students had. I found myself being pursued. I dated quite a bit. I was looking for a good match. I soon learned that most were allured by my things at least as much as they were by me.
Then a Co-ed who was not interested in my clothes, pocket-money, or car, came into my life. She was interested in my body. I hadn’t yet learned that that was not quite the same as being interested in me –that my body is one of my things. Her interest was in my body first, my smiley-ness second, and only after we found ourselves waking together more days than not, then in my mind –and in the “me-ness” of me, the soul. Me.
That was also true of my interest in her.
She suggested we live together, “but in an open relationship.” You can see that I would next be learning another free-love lesson. But there would also be a much more valuable lesson from this lovely relationship.
“Uhhmm, Probably,” I answered. “What does ‘open relationship’ mean, exactly?” We worked out what it meant for us. We really negotiated an agreement on what would be OK and what would not.
(No others in our home, etc. If you’re really curious, this is another story to ask me about. Although there are valuable lessons in it, and there is joy in the process of learning the art of true, heartfelt, honest-with-yourself-and-with-your-partner communication and compromise, the open relationship lifestyle is simply not as lovely as a happily-ever-after family-rearing couple lifestyle is. Although it is certainly self-enlightening, and can have much joy in it; it also has jealousy –until you work yourself through and beyond jealousy. Even then, it is not the way to happiness. I do have more to say about it later in this writing.)
After a while, she took another lover. (I know; surprise!) I learned in hindsight that was when I therefore felt compelled to take another lover for myself, too. I had no thought of it prior to that –and we had been living together some time by then. I later learned that as of that compulsion, my compulsion, I was therefore no longer piloting my own chariot.
We then had even more intimate, enlightening discussions that helped me begin to conquer jealousy and grow a depth of love that I did not recognize at the time. But not long thereafter, she found her Mr. Right and left our “open relationship” for a monogamous one with him. They are happily ever after to this day in their grand-parenting phase of life. I am honestly happy for them. I nonetheless still miss her whenever I think of her.
The most valuable lesson that I learned from that relationship is that my love for someone could be deeper, bigger, stronger than I had ever imagined. I thought that magnitude of love was only fantasy in books and movies, until I learned that I didn’t realize the magnitude of what I felt for her and for us-as-a-couple until after she was gone. I had just begun to learn of loving the spiritual side of someone, as opposed to being infatuated with a body or face and/or shared opinions. Loving a spirit or soul is different even from loving a great connection of two harmonious, similar speed, similar depth minds.
Harmonious minds of similar speed and depth was another first for me with Ms. Open Relationship. I also had my first lesson in how love can grow around you while you fail to recognize how strong or deep it really is. Wonderful bittersweet lessons. Wonderful.
Following Ms. Open Relationship, I roomed with a couple ladies. Platonic roommates was the premise, but when one made a pass at me, I was standoffish for only her first pass. I succumbed to her second. The second roommate made her pass shortly thereafter, while confessing they had discussed and planned this between them.
(Note: I have been told that sounds braggadocios. It is not meant to be. Those were the days of “free love,” when it was first becoming socially acceptable for women to be seductresses –this is shortly after the Pill had become wide-spread, and the “turn on, tune in” counterculture era had been propagated through most of our liberal arts colleges and the media in America.)
These two brief flings were really manifestations of our learning of our own mutual enjoyment of sex. I was, we were, learning that sex could be honestly happily exchanged as long as it was forthright and light, and included discussing that there was no intended exchange of that sort of life-partner love of one-another, that it was just sex, even if we could comfortably admit and share the love of fellow human to fellow human, and even though that naturally tends to evoke the sort of love that lovers develop. That sort of physical, even if lovely, relationship is what is meant by the writers who call such relationships “empty.” It is. However, even though sex without love might be an empty experience, as empty experiences go, Good sex is one of the best.
I was still putting myself through college part-time. I had started a business that I worked not quite full time. I was making enough money to live the Friday-night-dinner-date and Saturday-Night-Dance-Club lifestyle; mostly one-night stands that usually, but not always, included our discussions of feelings and attitudes and plans for ourselves, typically followed by coffee the next morning with an honest, two-way, “thank you for a great night; I honestly would like to hear about your next ones.”
I learned a lot about sex, and a lot about what love is not. And a few did become life-long friendships.
Before long I’d had my fill of the dance-club and one-night-stands lifestyle. I instead asked various lovers out again and again.
I wanted to learn more about true love, and find a route to it.
I began to actively “shop” for Ms. Right. I did enjoy the shopping, as long as it was light, smiley, and full-disclosure, but I was no longer shopping for Ms. Right-Now.
So, I of course asked out again and again those who were interested in good, light, sexy loving that included discussing more and more of what love was to each of us; and what were our preferred aspects of a happily-ever-after relationship. I learned that discussion of this subject matter came much more fluently once we were already lovers; but even so, the most guard-dropped, heart-felt exchanges were irrefutably during post-coital pillow talk –after the lovin’.
I learned that pillow talk is some of the best of all communication –the most heartfelt, guard down, heart-on-the-sleeve. And most beautiful.
I also learned that at the top of nearly all of their wish-lists was their desire for monogamy and marriage –a few proposed.
One day I realized I did want monogamy with one –quite possibly for life. She had not proposed. I did not. But I did end the others and I asked her to move in with me and work with me to help us both fully define what our individual needs and wants were for us to become happy in monogamy, perhaps for ever after.
By this time, I had finished college and was then working 60-hour and occasionally even over 70-hour weeks building my businesses. I rarely ate dinner at all, much less at home. It wasn’t long before she had to “work late” into the night, too. After it became later and later and then the next morning before she came home, and the truth finally came out, I threw her out of my house.
With him, she didn’t have to discuss anything; he gave her everything she asked for, including a pregnancy and a ring, in that order –until he threw her out of his house, too. (And then paid her alimony and child support.) Her daughter is now also a single mom. Interestingly, so is her only sister –who also still collects alimony late in her life. And her only brother is a divorced dad. It turns out their childhood was not happy.
Since then, I’ve advised people to learn about the childhood of their dates as early as possible.
And to not compromise home life with work-a-holism.
Hard, cold fact: love life smarts. Painfully. Again and again. Nonetheless, Tennyson was right; “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
I’ve learned to teach this: the stings and aches and cuts all have lessons in them. Learn from them. Better yet, learn not only from your stings and aches and cuts, but from others’ smarts, too. Learn to make your love life one of your main reasons for living.
Loving is the reason for life.
~ Forrest Keith
May this blog help you find and co-create and relish greater love with less stings, less aches, less cuts.
That is a good place to end this “About me” story.
Only if you are interested, I have much more of my love-life experience following. The next segment, or chapter, becomes rather philosophical.
And it comes to another good place to end –about this much further into this story, at the roughly two-thirds point in my whole story.
Here, now, at this point, you could skip to my “Summary,” or to my “Moral of this story,” at the end.
Or stop here and go look at an article or two in the section of this blog that best relates to you.
If you decide to carry on reading, I would love your feedback. Thank you.
After Ms. Sugar Daddy left me for Mr. Sugar Daddy, I took what I learned and got back into the market, shopping for Ms. Right.
By this time, in that phase of my life, post-college and building a couple businesses, then, dating/shopping for Ms. Right at the time meant an ad in the downtown weekly newspaper singles section. I also put a singles profile on the first on-line dating site (AOL.com). Yep. Really.
But as I was learning how to advertise, both for Real Estate service and home construction, as well as for for dating, I went through school-of-hard-knocks lessons regarding advertising. My advertising brought mismatch after mismatch, both in Real Estate and in love. Flings, yes; love, no.
I was learning that if you want to hold out for your Princess or Prince Charming, you have to kiss a lot of frogs.
I had by then learned that my Ms. Right would not have such and such characteristics and would have these and those.
I had learned a lot about what I needed and wanted, and I got to thinking about whether what I had to offer was fair exchange for what I wanted. I’d begun to wonder whether I deserved to hold out for my Ms. Right –or whether I should.
And I wondered whether I was dreaming a pie-in-the-sky dream.
So, I decided to write it down. I listed out sub-list characteristics as “must have these; can’t have those; and I have these and those, so it would be nice if we shared some of these.”
Two weeks after I wrote that down, to the day, the woman who later became the love of my life asked me for a date. We had been friends for some time. Friends of friends. We had not dated or even flirted with the idea. She, too, was shopping the field and rather enjoying it. When I told her of my having listed my needs and wants, she then asked if I might like to compare notes with her on that subject matter.
“Yes; I love that you would like to do that. I would like to do that very much.”
We compared our dating lives freely, openly, comfortably –hearts on our sleeves. We began dating each other while we each dated others, too. She told me I was the easiest person to talk with that she knew. I felt the same way about her and I worked to show her so.
Problem: she was a gold digger at the time. Openly. That was distinctly and definitely on her list; and it was distinctly and definitely on my “won’t have those” characteristics list. I of course let her know I would be continuing to shop for someone who had her own career, and plans, and goals for her own life along career lines. She let me know that hers were to be a stay-at-home-mom in a McMansion with a Maserati and hot and cold running butlers.
So we did not cohabitate.
We dated. We loved. A lot. For years. Sometimes off, and then on again. Wonderful dates and pillow talk. While still shopping and comparing notes. Until she did find herself a sugar daddy who bought her diamonds and furs and a Porsche and jet-setting. She came to me to tell me that he had proposed and she hoped it would be ok for us to talk about it without our sleeping together.
After that talk, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done was not ask her to be mine instead.
It turned out she came back some years later, but I did not expect that at the time.
At the time she ended us and went to him, I began again feeling amazement –amazement at the magnitude of my feelings, at the heaviness of my sadness about the loss of what I suddenly saw was a depth of love I only then realized I hadn’t recognized the magnitude of while it was growing around us.
“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
So, I busied myself with dating to find Ms. Right.
Some would decide enough was enough of my non-monogamous lifestyle and move on. Others would become unhappy but not move on, so I would end with them. Others came into my life. Many were also non-monogamous. I had gotten used to the “free love” era.
Although I was not seeking to keep multiple lovers, I was still shopping for Ms. Right. And I was continuing to refine my definition of my kind of “happily ever after” while continuing to learn of my lovers’ ideas of it –all while enjoying the pillow talk. Holidays brought deep conversations; holidays seemed to be times when lovers would press for “a future.” Those pressings more often lead to an ending. Many, if not most, are still friends.
I learned much about full disclosure and listening to understand –rather than listening to respond. I worked to keep things fully disclosed with as light a touch and with as much smiling and laughing as I could.
Eventually there was one beautiful, sexy, funny, charming woman who was a good communicator and was always looking forward to our next weekend, sometimes finding to-dos to fill the next one or two with. Before long, our weekend dates were three days long, then four, and sometimes five. Although I was no longer working 60 and more hours a week, I was still working 50 and more. And the home-construction and development Real Estate business meant I worked most weekends. Thus, I often came home to her already at my house. She would have food prepared, music playing, and the hot tub steaming.
She had also grown to fit my written lists. She had established a career and was making long-term goals for her bright-looking future. My lists did not include one of her wants, but it did not exclude it either. She wanted to explore threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes.
So we explored that lifestyle. She had not one ember of jealously and she helped me extinguish the last embers of mine. I learned that the “swinger” lifestyle can include some joy as long as there is no jealousy. But it is simply not the way to happiness.
Because we made our priorities communication, gratitude, and setting goals, as well as working to achieve them, we therefore woke up happy next to each other. Until she started lying.
Ms. Sexy Swinger for some reason became a compulsive liar, lying about banal things for no reason I could find. When I could not get her to stop lying, I ended us. She then went out and got pregnant and had remained a single mom as of the last I heard from her, some years ago. She was in that phase of life where her child was boomeranging away from and back to her nest –later in his life for that than average. She said she was happy. I hope that’s true.
Before the end of us, before I learned of her lying, I asked her if she foresaw the swinging lifestyle ever ending, becoming replaced with a child-rearing lifestyle. She said she did. Before the lying, we had great pillow talk –including with others at the same time. The weirdness of that waned quickly; it became truly lovely.
But with the advent of her odd lying, her pillow talk became fantasy talk and stories of things she had accomplished that she had not.
Although it was her lying that was the reason I ended us, I had tired of the lifestyle, too.
In hindsight I learned we just weren’t quite the right match of wavelengths for each other.
That is really the ultimate measure of a good match. Wavelength.
Our spiritual side, we, the inner-most us, the soul, if you will, really is a vibration.
The fact is, at the sub-atomic level, everything, including every cell in your body and every atom in every cell and in every rock or liquid or air on earth, is a vibration. Even light and electricity are vibrations. “We live in an ocean of motion.”
Well, we, too, the souls, the spiritual beings, vibrate at different wavelengths. Some soul-to-soul matches of wavelengths are harmonious; some are dissonant; some more so than others. Some souls have naturally better vibes between them.
But I hadn’t learned that yet; I was only just beginning to get a feel for it.
My guts told me that I was ready then to just live alone for a while. I focused on my businesses, instead of focusing on learning more about love. But I also re-wrote my needs and wants list from all I had learned. And I re-worded it and re-worded it, sharing it with friends both male and female until what it said was exactly what I meant; so that what others got from reading it was correctly and completely what I meant. So that it vibrated at the correct wavelength. “Yeah; that’s it!”
Once I got it right, then two weeks later, to the day, the love of my life called me again. “I’m divorcing; wanna get together?”
“Yeah I do. I sure do.”
We dated daily, but I wouldn’t sleep with her until her divorce was final. Monetary mistake, in hindsight; because, to get the divorce done, she signed over everything when she could have won some wealth in a contested settlement. But it sure was no mistake for our love life. She had learned that diamonds and furs and sports-cars and jet-setting do not substitute for great communication, and do not bring lasting happiness.
I got her licensed as a Realtor under my Real Estate brokerage where she took off like a rocket. She suddenly had a career she loved. I coached her to write down her purposes for her work and for her life. She also wrote her own goals –without prompt.
She was no longer a gold digger. She saw her own route to her own financial independence. And she saw the value of working together to create a luxurious life. Then she fit my list of needs and wants perfectly. We carefully and deeply discussed each other’s needs and wants. We glowed more brightly with every conversation.
And we dove into love. We made it come true. We together created one of the rare, true, mad, deep, happy loves that poets strum about.
Mr. and Ms. Right had at long last found each other in the right place at the right time.
I asked her to move in. She quickly got her townhouse sold and her career stabilized.
It wasn’t long before I asked her to marry. She asked to elope. “Happy to.”
We started our family immediately. I was again amazed by the magnitude of it. I was astounded that such joy could be true.
I was compelled to write the following one night when it simply bubbled up out of me as my cup runneth over:
“My life is so good now.
I am in love. True. Mature.
I am happier and healthier than I have ever been.
My marriage is everything I ever wanted or dreamed it could be, and more.
We both take care of ourselves including staying in shape. We laugh together all the time –sometimes even when we’re sleeping. We’ve even had our dreams coordinate.
Our sprouting toddler is happy and out-going. We hear again and again how good-natured he is and what a pleasure it is to spend time with him –even from a few who admit they are not normally particularly fond of children.
Our home is full of love. There is almost never a raised voice or even a look of hurt or sadness or distance –including our pets, even. We’ve heard from guests that our home feels good. I know that makes her feel good. And that sure makes me feel good.
My business is also doing well. I consider my employees and co-workers my friends. In fact I have more friends than ever, and they are warm friends who listen and speak from the heart. Others have commented how rare it is to see friends remain good and close like that –and how odd and nice it seems to be that we would have such friendships with past lovers.
We are in abundance of nice things like a beautiful home, late model cars, and a spacious, happy office environment full of a company of people who are a joy to work with.
And I know God now.
And I know aesthetics. And ethics.
My life just keeps getting better and better.
My dreams are occurring; and I dare to dream bigger and bigger.”
She was pregnant with our second child when she was diagnosed with Leukemia. She lost our baby girl and then she lost her life. Our son was a toddler. She did get to breast feed him until he weaned himself. And she did get to see him learn to walk and begin to talk.
THE hardest thing I’ve ever done was watch the love of my life wither away and lose her life in spite of her strong will to live even through her last breath. She fought to live to see our child, and hopefully children, grow up. The greatest burden of my life is that my help failed. Especially in the light of having seen her parents share the same heaviness of failed help.
But this time I had not failed to see and feel and co-create and express gratitude for this deep, magical love while we were soaring in it –while we were generating it.
I had learned that the sort of love that poets strum about does exist, and I had learned from prior lessons to not miss a heartbeat of it.
I have since learned that is extremely rare. From my present phase of life, I can now clearly see that few people ever have the privilege of experiencing this sort of love –much less living in it moment-to-moment gratefully. Further, I now have the perspective that even when such love does grow, it is fleeting –even if it lasts until old age, for in that kind of love, a lifetime is a fleeting length of time.
I was also learning the following: You can list out your needs and wants; and, if they do not counter your personal policies, and if they are in alignment with your purpose for living this life, then you can name your goals and make things happen –as long as you have your health, of course.
This is another good place to end your reading of my love life.
Once again, you could skip to my “Summary,” or to my “Moral of this story. Or you could stop here and go look at an article or two in the section of this blog that best relates to you.
I do have more, if you’re interested.
The best, most universal, of my love-life needs and wants list, that I recommend all contemplate, is listed in this next segment or chapter:
After I grieved long enough (there really is some powerful emotional therapy behind the advice to mourn for a year; grief magically lifted for me on day 366, astonishingly), I finally felt ready to get back into the market for another Ms. Right –and this time, for another mother for our boy who was already growing from toddler to trundler. His dying mother made me promise I would do that. I was finally ready to give it a go.
So, I opened up my old list of needs and wants and I shared it with friends again. I’ll be damned; the two-weeks thing happened again.
It was two weeks later that I had more prospects than I had time to meet them. Meet I did. Many. Over coffee or lunch or sometimes happy hour. Almost none did I want to set up a dinner date with. And the few I did have dinner with just weren’t vibing well enough. Partly me, I see in hindsight, as a widower, with a trundler, as I was getting back into the market; but mostly because I was realizing my burgeoning of that insight into the importance of harmony. Of soul-to-soul, heart-to-heart wavelength. Of “good vibes.”
So, I spent some time on my list of needs and wants in an effort to add to it. But I had to work with it for some time while I worked out what I was trying to put to words to add to it. Once I finally got it revised and written in a new unit of time, the two weeks magic happened yet again. One of the ladies I ended it with in the past, back before I decided to instead play house with Ms. Worklate Intothenight, literally saw me on the street from afar and rang me up.
Was that ever a wonderful, instant, hot, second-go-round fling.
She was struggling after her divorce. Single mom needed love and help and respite. We helped fill each other’s needs –physical and emotional and pillow-talk. We dated for a lovely while. While I worked on learning about wavelength harmony, I helped her focus on herself for a change in her phase of life at the time. She found new belief in herself and she then made a wonderful new life for herself.
She has since out-lived her next man. Although we then found ourselves yet again both looking for life partners at the same time, we did not become lovers again. We’re great friends; we’re just not the right wavelength match to be life-partners. To this day, we are great friends. I honestly love her on that level. And I know that is mutual.
During our second-go-round fling, I was re-working my needs and wants as well as my goals and purposes, and even my policies. I revised my list to try to capture what I was learning about wavelength harmony. Once I got it written correctly, completely, I shared what I wrote again with my friends both male and female. I tweaked how it was written until I again got it to communicate what I meant, anew. The correct vibe. “Yep, that’s it.” After I got it just right, I’ll be damned if the young woman who would become my second wife, and her daughter, who is just four months older than my son, didn’t walk into our lives on the two-weeks-to-the-day mark.
She fit every item on my lists as if I had created her myself. On the bottom of my lists I wrote, “And it would be nice if she had a daughter about my son’s age.”
The hard lesson I learned from that love life, my longest, my second marriage, is that I had replaced my lost love-of-my-life with a substitute wife for me; and really more importantly to me, a mother figure for our son as I had promised. I told myself that was fair because I was a good father-figure to her daughter, too. But it was not fair to her. I worked at it. Hard. I did succeed at making it lovely for us for about 11 of our 13 years together. I did my damnedest to stay in the moment and love her for her; and not compare her to my late, first wife, the biological mother of my son. And I did succeed in helping culture a mother-son relationship between them. But I ultimately failed; I have since admitted to myself that I failed because she was, for me, a substitute.
But in hindsight, I can clearly see that I failed also because I had not yet realized the following, to add to my lists. It never dawned on me that I should have to list and hold out for a Ms. Right who also fit these needs and wants:
~ We are thoughtful. We think of others. We care. We compliment. We are appreciative.
~ We are respectful and lovely. We help people smile and feel good. We verbalize admiration.
~ We are displayers of affection. Twinkly, light-hearted touching is fundamental, foundational.
~ We are best-friends material. We do what it takes to understand, and to cause understanding.
~ We are continually striving to help each other be and grow as both ourselves and as a couple.
~ We together create, consciously, the sort of love that poets strum about, doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
~ We demonstrate gratitude and speak words of appreciation in thoughtful, mindful, ways.
Those characteristics can only last so long when they only flow one direction. A heavy stress from a third party overwhelmed my ability to keep generating them unrequited.
There was one other very important thing I neglected to include in my needs and wants lists: that her daughter would be nice. She wasn’t.
I had been working and working to cultivate those above last items of my needs and wants into an equal two-way street. Five years had passed before she showed some intent to consciously generate back in kind. That was when I agreed to marry her.
By then both the kids were calling us, “Mom and Dad.” When we were at our wedding rehearsal, I asked the minister to ask the kids if they would accept and help create the marriage so as to help them feel more like brother and sister, too. My son caught his breath. His tears rolled. He had an un-characteristic silence for a surprisingly long moment. He said through his tears, “no.” And then he ran.
I of course excused myself and went after him. We found a private space to sit quietly until he broke the silence with, “Dad, I don’t want you to marry Mom, because [Sister] is too mean to me.”
My heart stops again as I re-live that.
We sat in silence for some time more before I decided to tell him that he and I were big boys and together we could help her become happier being nice. He was good with that. He then “blessed” and agreed to contribute to the marriage as a family member.
I very much wish I had instead heeded his request.
She, [Daughter], was one of those rare human beings who was only happy when those around her were unhappy. He, my son, was her nearest and first target for eight more years. I failed at getting it to stop for more than weeks at a time. When she entered the hormonal teen years, she got overwhelmingly, jaw-droppingly, spiteful. I got tougher and tougher until her mother left us for a younger man with no children and put Mean Daughter into a boarding school.
(I had business-coached her, selfish wife, from struggling professional to financially independent clinic owner. So she had the financial freedom to go try out a lifestyle with a boy toy.)
She asked for the divorce. I wanted to get us to the empty nest stage, expecting we could still re-create happily ever after. I knew I could. I knew I could help her do more on it. And I was OK with doing the majority of it, if necessary. But she made it clear that she wanted to trade me in for her younger man. I of course then did not contest the divorce. We broke cleanly with finality.
As did my heart.
A couple weeks later, my son broke a silence with, “Dad, I sure am glad [Spiteful Step-sister] is gone.”
That snapped me into instant closure.
My love life lessons from that relationship are “fools rush in;” and, that I can provide virtually all of the creativity necessary to make a love life lovely –although I now strongly advise everyone have, everyone deserves, a two-way street; and, no amount of effort or intention will make someone into anything other than what they decide to make themselves into.
Further, it’s not worth allowing into your life any of those rare individuals who gain any semblance of happiness from any semblance of anyone else’s unhappiness.
Not long thereafter, I re-wrote my lists to include the above last items of my needs and wants –those particularly-necessarily-two-way characteristics that I listed above. Then I put the list on Match.com. Two weeks later –again, to the day– the woman who has become my present, happily-ever-after partner answered.
I didn’t catch her cast until later, though. A couple years later. At the time she first cast her lure into my pond, I was overwhelmed with respondents. My dance card was full.
I was embarking upon active exploration of wavelength. Once I was past the disappointment of having to date again, and once I was able to remain in the moment with gratitude while dating, I was then able to pay particular attention to the way my dates and I harmonized as souls, heart-to-heart. I studied it empirically. I was learning about how the vibes between this woman and myself were more harmonious than were the vibes between that woman and myself.
At this later stage of life, the games of tip-toeing around sexual feelings are unnecessary for those of us who are actively looking to reinstate love lives after having loved and lost. We who are dating at this phase of life, that of an empty nest or nearly so, all understand that that tingly feeling when you are first flirting with someone has nothing to do with love; it’s your sensibility leaving your body when your body has decided for itself that it would like to try out intimacy with this person you’re flirting with.
We who are dating at this later phase of life can dive right into more intimate conversations. I could therefore easily steer to discussions of vibes and wavelengths or feelings once it had become evident that neither of us had ruled out our sleeping together –or sleeping together again.
I had come to realize that one of the main, fundamental differences between my first marriage and my second was that it’s really about wavelength. The love of my life and I harmonized like two mood-lifting notes –or chords– that enhanced one-another.
That’s what a great match really thrives on.
And that’s the most valuable love-life lesson of all.
Here’s what I learned about that most valuable of love-life lessons:
Some of us harmonize better with a wider range of other wavelengths than some others of us do.
~ Some vibrate at only a single wavelength.
~~ Some of those single-wavelengths are only an angry vibe.
~~ Some of the single-wavelength people vibrate only grief.
~ Some just plain don’t flow vibrations outwardly at any wavelength; they just inflow.
~ Yet others only start to outflow when they feel safe and loved.
~ And yet some others only outflow at all when they are not only feeling safe and loved; but even then, only after they have first been flowed to.
~ A rare few outflow all the time no matter what.
~~ Some of them compulsively, even.
~~ And some so much so that they don’t even absorb what is flowed to them.
To all my loved ones: Vibrate. Emote. Mindfully.
To the best of your ability, match the wavelength, or emotional tone level, of the one you’re with.
I dated many, many more than ever before. I slept with fewer of them than ever before. I got dumped more than ever before. And I spent time with a few ladies again and again delving deeper and deeper into happy, enlightening pillow talk that included what vibes and wavelengths –or those sorts of feelings– were to them, before I learned that some of my deeper, more subtle, wavelength needs and wants indicated I should move on.
As I dated, one lovely, lovely lady became every weekend and occasionally during the week. Love was burgeoning, but I just needed to keep looking for a more harmonious wavelength. I was still meeting others when I learned she had stopped meeting others. She was practiced, and good with, and good at being ok with, that particular love-life unbalance; but it became evident to me that the relationship was germinating in her that sort of not-fully-recognized love that I had learned about from my earlier loves lost. I had to not allow that. That’s when I broke us off. I broke her heart. I’m sorry, beautiful bird.
The lesson in that is to kiss your frogs watching to see how they vibrate.
If they don’t vibrate at your kind of Princess or Prince Charming’s wavelength, move on rather than work to cultivate their vibes.
The happy ending of my story:
I took a break from meeting anyone new. I shared a few dates with ladies I had dated before. And I realized I knew better than ever that I was ready to have another great, harmonious, wavelength match. Further, I had decided that that had moved toward the top of my needs and wants.
So, I refreshed my lists and I refreshed my ad and I was again overwhelmed with responses. I was then weeding more efficiently and effectively. I looked more closely at what women on the site wrote, because I then had some trustworthy experience reading what was between the lines of their profile ads. I was getting better at predicting the sort of vibe flow they would be/do/have from what they wrote; and more importantly from how they wrote.
Then the two-weeks magic happened yet again: I met the lady who first cast into my pond that earlier time, two weeks after I had first launched my Match.com ad the first time. This time, I clicked. Nicely. Balanced, co-creation, in the air of gratitude.
It’s not bodies, it’s not things, it’s not needs between us. It’s wants. And gives. And it’s between the her-ness of her and the me-ness of me. Soul to soul.
Will it become one of the rare loves that poets strum about? I’m not ruling it out. But I’m not ruling it in, either. The love that it is is good. And it continues to grow. We make each other laugh –even when we piss one-another off. We don’t have to exert effort. Our soul-to-soul, heart-to-heart, wavelength is a great match.
Love is a different game in the empty-nester phase of life, but the fundamentals of love are the same as they are when you meet your first love.
At first love, you just don’t know yet in your young life to differentiate between the tingly feelings and the true soul-to-soul vibes. I don’t think that differentiation can be taught. I believe it must be experienced. But I believe pointing it out can help listeners/readers watch for and go for and learn about the differences of those experiences when they are younger, earlier in their life. It might be that some people, possibly most people, never realize there is a difference unless and until someone mentions to them that they really are different experiences –different feelings– because they are so close in feeling to each other.
If you, dear reader, are in one of the earlier phases of life, don’t rush in. Learn to enjoy dating for the sake of improving your ability to see and to love others as fellow humans. As souls. As spiritual beings, as differentiated from hot-looking people. Learn of wavelength harmonies and dissonances.
Develop your own, true-to-yourself, needs and wants. Get them defined and refined.
If you, dear reader, are in the empty-nester phase of life, still date. If you’re in a committed relationship, date your partner.
If you’re in the market for a partner, pay attention to what you want and what you don’t want in a partner.
At this later phase of life, we no longer have a college campus or a bar or grocery store or workplace or church to find the frogs to kiss in search of our Princess or Prince Charming. Most in this later phase of life must find their frogs on line. Kiss enough frogs, or go without true love. It’s not fair. Life is not fair. But you should do things to make your life lovelier. Find frogs and kiss them. Keep kissing frogs until you find your Princess or Prince Charming. And then keep kissing your Princess or Prince Charming.
We, in this later phase of life, vibrate, even glow, as love generators more in the presence of another than we did in younger years. We understand the sort of love that we glow for our children and grandchildren and siblings is different than the sort of love that we glow for a life partner love interest.
The moral of this story:
All sorts of loves are what life is for.
Life-partner love is what you learn to continue to create. Love for a child does not need you to intend keeping your generator glowing or flowing or vibrating. Toward your children, it generates itself. Love for your life-partner takes generating. But when two get one synergistic generator going, then it is not work; it is more like singing in harmony. It’s joy.
It is the reward for living.
The reason for living is to improve others’ lives. Love is the most useful tool for that.
You deserve that reward, too.
Wonderfully, generating love creates its own reward.
It’s not instant reward, but it is greater reward than any.
I now know that is my lesson of this life.
And I will teach what I can of it.
I am so much better for having loved and lost so much.
I am so fortunate to have lost such a rarity as the sort of love that poets strum about than to have never experienced that rarity at all.
That’s why I write lovelifemarts. That’s why I am audacious enough to write what love is and what it isn’t. I do know. With certainty.
I now live to teach how to make life lovelier.