Not that the boys have asked me [yet], but today I thought I’d give them some advice on finding the right partner in life.
At the time I’m writing this, Sean is in a serious relationship and seems to be doing well. Scott hasn’t, to my knowledge, been serious about anybody yet, though he’s a very private person, so I’m not sure he would tell me until he was sure about where the relationship was going.
In any event, what I would offer to my sons, were they to ask me, is that, in order to find the best mate for you, you have to worry more about being the best person you can be. I know it can be a struggle to show your best self to everyone all the time, and I’m not saying you can never indulge your more selfish side, but that REALLY needs to be kept to a minimum in order to keep the peace within your life. Whether you’re talking about a friendship, a family connection, or a romantic relationship, being selfish all the time, expecting the other person to just accept you for you who are is unfair at best and destructive at worst. You cannot say “you must love me as I am because I am not going to change.” Life itself is about constant change. You should be growing and changing as a person your whole life, hopefully for the better, and hopefully in the same direction as the friends, family, and lovers you are with. When one grows and changes and the other refuses to, the relationship will slowly wither, rot, and die.
I am not talking about changing the fundamental base that makes you who you are. I am not saying you should give up your morals and values to please someone else. But I also would caution against not opening your mind and heart to other possibilities as you mature. Perhaps today, you do not feel a close connection to any spiritual faith. Maybe you have some general idea of what it is you believe in, but you don’t really focus much on that. Over time, you may come to feel that there is something missing in your life, and turning your mind – and soul – towards religion fills that void. I would hope (and pray) that you choose a Christian faith to connect with (if you haven’t chosen already), and that you don’t get fanatical about it. Devout faith is acceptable; extremism is not.
As you grow, you’ll also find that certain societal issues will touch you in different ways. Perhaps you never really gave a thought to whether abortion is right or wrong – you’re boys, men, it’s not something you worry much about. But one day it comes down to some woman deciding she does not want YOUR baby. How will you feel when she tells you she wants to abort it?
There are so many things in the world that matter so little until they touch you in a direct way that you are not giving much thought to them. I would suggest educating yourself on what’s going on in the current world and deciding what various issues mean to you.
Work on becoming the best men you can be. Have manners. Be polite – “please” and “thank you” go a long ways. Be willing to put down your book, or turn off the TV/computer in order to help your mate with a task when asked. And do it without rolling your eyes or sighing heavily. Stand behind your mate when they are in trouble, but not to the point where you must go against your morals and values to do so. Be willing to support your mate in a time of need, but also be supportive in helping them move past their current state. Don’t bully or badger them into doing something they are not ready or able to do.
There will be times when both you and your mate fail to be at your best. Understand that you are only human and pick up the slack for the other when necessary. When it is YOU who are lagging, recognize it, accept it and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Don’t wallow in a rut of your own making and expect someone else to extract you from it. Be strong enough to stand back up, dust yourself off, and ride again.
Perhaps one of the most important things to understand is when to finally walk away. Each one of us is an incredibly strong human being, capable of enormous generosity and kindness. We give and give willingly, freely, and without expecting anything in return. But there are those in our lives who take advantage of that which is so good within us. Perhaps it is because they’ve never experienced it before. Maybe they are just completely selfish and manipulative. When they have drained your very soul and you feel you can give no more without giving up too much of yourself, without altering who you are at your core, then the relationship is too toxic for you to remain in. It is not a failure on your part to disentangle yourself from such a situation. To be the best man you can be, you cannot allow another person to beat you down.
Be it a friend, a family member, or a mate, they must be cut of the same cloth as you. They must constantly strive to be the best person they can be, because only then will they be worthy of the best person that I know you can be.
I love you, my sons!