Black love is hard to have and hold – for all the reasons we’ve discussed before. External forces have systematically attacked and successfully destroyed many black families – past and present. The forces are so varied, systematic and deeply penetrating that they will continue to shackle black love into the future.
A few of the forces mentioned above are economic terrorism, redlining, class ceilings, and many other forms of discrimination have had an impact on black lives and consequently families – including our own. Add to that the emotional scars and trauma from childhood and past relationships with other broken people and you get another set of issues that look like an Olympic sized track full of high hurdles blocking our path to the finish line where the reward is the love we dream of.
One of my favorite scriptures Proverbs 4:3 reads “guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Whether we realize it or not, most of the things we do in life flow from our inner beliefs. We don’t always act in harmony with what we SAY. But we nearly always act in a way that reflects our inner beliefs, our core beliefs.
I say all that to illustrate the point, and I want to make it very clear, that it’s not YOU and it’s not ME “per se” that’s the issue here, it is the situations and circumstances, the past experiences, the coping mechanisms, the callus scaring, the not knowing because we haven’t yet experienced… it’s all of those things that made us who we are today “the basis of our inner beliefs” that are the REAL issues.
Truly Working as a Team
Most couples don’t make it because they spend more time attacking the person versus addressing the program or underlying issue(s). It’s easy to attack a person, they’re standing right there in front of you. It takes love, skill, patience and understanding to peel back the layers and work with your partner to troubleshoot and problem solve issues.
Listen to your language. If it’s you versus me or adversarial, both are signs that the struggle is with the person not the issue. I constantly plead with you to not make me the enemy or us the adversary. It makes situations hard to deal with. And It leads to animosity.
If we are to grow into the love we both desire, we have a lot of issues and barriers to overcome (you mentioned many of them in your text message today – geography, economic, etc.). If we’re not working as a team, then it’s either going to take a hell of a long time to get to where we want to be, (and it won’t be as sweet when we arrive) or we’re either going to destroy each other and the relationship in the process. Neither of those are the outcomes we desire.
Do you understand what I’m trying to say here? Do you agree with where I’m coming from? Can you help me understand why we find ourselves in adversarial positions?
I’d Rather Figure Things Out on My Own
This is closely tied to the point above. I’m really interested in getting your honest analysis of this topic. You’ve literally told me this verbatim before. It was probably regarding marketing or your business or something like that. I mean sometimes it is best to let people figure things out on their own. However, in my opinion, it’s not the best way to get to where you want to be. For example, I’ve maintained that I’ll never go into business by myself again. It’s too much work for one person to do. It’s better to have help figuring things out and executing a plan. And not to mention the risks are spread around – making the chances of success higher and the impact of a loss lower. If you’re in a partnership with someone who doesn’t like being told what to do (even the perception there of), then it’s going to be a very challenging partnership. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. The best partnerships shore up the weaknesses with the other partners strengths.
How does this manifest itself in our relationship? I feel like my input isn’t wholeheartedly considered because at times you just don’t want to hear it. If it feels like I’m telling you what to do, it shuts down communications. You can come back hours or days later and tell me the exact same thing I was trying to tell you, then we are able to move forward. It’s just not the most effective or efficient way to build a relationship.
It also leaves me feeling like I’m not able to speak into your life – especially some tightly guarded spots like how to manage relationships, career steps, etc. I feel like if we don’t get this right soon, it’ll even make raising our children tougher than it should be. Because parenting is another tightly guarded space.
From my observation, I know to tread lightly when I touch those types of issues. The responses are typically (let me try to be as accurate as possible here) you automatically assume I’m criticizing or disapproving, there isn’t a calm build up – we almost immediately go to our fighting corners and the battle lines are drawn.
Being Reactionary – The Crappy First Draft
The first response can’t be to fight, fuss or assume the worst. That’s called the crappy/shitty first draft! When a writer sits down to write, the first draft usually sucks. It’s not thought out, it’s rough, it’s incomplete. So it is with our initial reactions to something our partner does, or says. The stories we tell ourselves in our own heads typically suck. We typically assume the worst. We typically make things appear far worse than they are. And shitty first drafts are WAY DRAMATIC.
How does this play out in our relationship? Well take our last argument for example. I assumed the worst about your response to my cry for help. When the truth is that you were working from incomplete information and our understanding of the language I was using to describe my feelings were different. I wrote a shitty first draft. And it set off a chain of undesirable reactions. When we don’t first calm down, the sit and talk to understand where the other person is coming from and instead go with the first thing that comes mind, it causes so many problems and misunderstandings.
And this is especially tough when you mix this with a strong-willed personality type. Let me explain. There have been situations where you’ve drawn some conclusions about me (be it personal or work situation) and no matter how much I tried to explain my position, help you see my POV or convince you otherwise, you just would budge. That’s tough. So no external force could not change your mind but even alter your analysis and there was no redraft of the story. This is what I mean when I say we should analyze situations deeper. If there isn’t an ongoing processing of information, then we are essentially STUCK in a stalemate. It makes it very hard to progress. We NEED to be able to edit our stories. We need to evolve our understanding of situations, each other and ourselves if we want to grow as individuals and as a couple. We have to really take the time and put in the effort to learn what’s hindering us and individuals and partners, and work together as a unit to overcome those hurdles and propel and pull one another to our goal.