In my lifetime I have observed many changing beliefs about relationships. The primary relationship that everyone thought about and talked about when I was a young girl was romantic love and marriage. As not every household had a landline phone and there was no social media and no mobile phones, the main focus was on magazines. These were very much geared to romantic love – to ideas of how to attract a man into one's life, what to wear, what perfumes to use and what makeup one should or should not use. The inference being that by doing these things one would catch a good husband and thus live happily ever after!!
This was all pretty demeaning for women because we were supposed to be objects instead of people! I suspect as a teenager and very young woman I bought into this all pervading belief.
During the 1950s things began to change. Women had proved, during the Second World War that they were not just objects but that they were competent and could do many of the jobs that only men had done before. This began to change the whole dynamic of the relationships between men and women. Women still tended to stay and manage their homes and look after the children if they could afford to do so. However, many of them tended to go to University and get a degree once their children had passed the intense stage of needing their mother.
I was one of those women. I was a stay at home mum. I did all the housework, all the cooking, shopping, ironing, washing and the entertaining – sit down dinners for up to twenty were quite normal. However, there was in all this a great learning curve about what a married relationship was all about. My husband and I did love each other.
We had great respect for each other first and foremost. Secondly we knew that we could trust each other totally. We learned to allow each other the freedom to be who we truly are and we encouraged each other to be more of this all the time.
Over our sixty years of marriage much has changed of course, but always there has been respect and love. To love someone truly one must first find that love within oneself:
- The ability to be totally truthful and honest about how one feels at all times and to express that in words so that there are never any little niggles of resentment or hurt floating around!
- To be able to be still and allow all tension to dissipate from one’s body so that there is harmony throughout – something that needs a bit of practice, but makes for a feeling of wellbeing and joy which one can then share with one’s partner.
I have observed the changes in the beliefs about married relationships. It no longer seems necessary to make a total commitment to each other.
There seems now to be the idea that, if things don't work out with one partner then there is always another around the corner.
This attitude precludes the need to work at a relationship and to encourage relationships that don't even feel right simply because they are there! But this belief disregards the fact that we are feeling human beings and that we need to be tender with ourselves and with others.
The attitude towards sex has changed dramatically since I was young. In my youth this was a taboo subject with very little or no education available, certainly not from one’s parents! They could not acknowledge that there was such a thing as sex! I think most sub-teens know more about the subject than I did when I got married! But I always thought of this as making love, and so did my husband so it was always special and not something done simply for gratification. Using sex for gratification is a very selfish act and thus I feel the young today miss out on a lot of things that our generation had.
To summarise, relationships of whatever sort need to have the elements of love in them. They need to give the other party respect first and foremost.
With respect we can then work at the elements of truth, honesty, stillness, harmony and joy, which should be the basis of all relationships. Relationships based on need or any other emotional aspect, are not relationships of any worth; they are simply using another to make one “feel better”. To truly feel better one has to address whatever it is that is making one feel less and that requires the elements of love applied to oneself first and foremost.
Rowena P., Australia