The other day I was talking with a friend of mine who I have not talked to in a long time. Last year I was having trouble with my relationship and she remembered that time in my life. This time, we were talking about my impending decision to take a different path in my life – one that may require me to give up my job.
She said to me, “you are giving up a lot,” and asked me, “what is HE giving up for you?” This one question got me to thinking. Is that what relationships are about? Quid pro quo, or is it more of an understanding between two people who are entering an union for life? Do both parties in a relationship have to necessarily give something up in order for the relationship to go forward?
We have too many expectations these days – in our job, in our careers, in our children, on the man or our dreams. It seems like more and more women are getting married later and later in life because they envision the perfect man – the man who will rub their tired feet at the end of the day, the professional man, the man who will save them, etc. In fact, those same expectations are put to the test in daily life – the perfect bed, the perfect house, the perfect friends, and alas, the perfect job with the perfect work mates and boss who will fulfill them.
Problem is – these expectations are not only unrealistic, they are unhealthy to hold on to. In love and life, it is important to remember wat you are giving to the relationship and not what you will get back in return. I often forget this important lesson as well. In life, and love, it is important to remember that we have choices but we have to make those choices knowing what we want and what we want to give to this world without the expectation that we will receive in return.
Quid Pro Quo is not healthy in any relationship. My answer to my friend was simple: He doesn’t have to give up anything for me. I choose to do this – this is a choice and I expect nothing in return. I can’t expect anything in return – it would be unhealthy and in the end, I would be disappointed no matter what HE gave up for me.
Recently I had the opportunity to go on an exchange to Turkey and learn about their military, meet their officers and officer candidates, and experience the culture. One problem seemed prominent throughout this trip: communication. From deportation of half of my team at the Turkish airport by customs officials to not being able to get the point across that I needed to stop and e-mail my fiancé and parents to let them know I was okay, it seemed like communication was a severe problem. Obviously, I never was able to call or email my fiance while I was there for seven days. So, I started thinking, how do you expect to communicate with people who speak a different language, who think differently, and understand terms differently, when right here, at home, two people who speak the same language, grew up with relatively similar culture and family values, cannot successfully communicate at times?
After all, communication is the number one reason why our divorce rate is 43% for first time marriages, higher for second and the third time around. How is it then that we get the person to understand us? What is the universal language?
I am hosting an international delegation in the middle of a massive blizzard here in Colorado and what is the number one problem again? Why, communication, of course. Roads are closed, the city and all facilities are shut down, and there is no way to reach these folks physically. There is the phone – to talk. But it seems like what I am saying is not getting through. Interpretation, background, personal biases, judgment – all of these factors affect how people “hear” you. In a relationship, when there is a communication problem, we try to identify the barrier and then resolve the problem. In day to day world affairs, the same baggage can become a huge liability. So I started questioning why we in the world don’t do more to help the case of a universal language for communication. Why are we not doing more in the UN or NATO to bridge the communication gap? In diplomacy like in lilfe, how can we create a language to communicate with the world around us and minimize all that baggage?
From our day to day relationships all the way to peace talks, wouldn’t it be nice to have a universal language? Until that day comes and it may never, we have to do our part to minimize the barriers – we have to do our part to break down the barriers and help people understand us just like we should do our best to “hear” them by reducing our own barriers to communication.