Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Seeing the future

So I'm going to venture away from the advice from my patients....

As a nurse, I feel like I have a looking glass into the future everyday I walk into the hospital. I get to see people from every walk of life. People who probably had a life similar to mine when they were 24. Through my experience I have learned one major thing:

Always put your partner first (after yourself of course).

When I walk into my patients room, the person I see curled up sleeping in the uncomfortable reclining chair next to my patient is their husband or wife. They put themselves through hell just to be there next to you. They don't get great sleep, they are worried sick, and ultimately are putting their own health at risk...for you. Your partner is going to be the person sitting with you day in and day out in the hospital when you are old.

In marriage/family it is understandable to want to put your children first, but what i'd like you to take into consideration is the word "family". A family (traditionally) means two partners with or without children. If you have children and you and your spouse don't put each other first, the family that you have been building will be gone. Also, in the end your children will be grown up, have a family of their own to take care of, and can't be there 24/7 like your husband or wife.

Then there are those who people put their friends before their spouse. I'm 24 so maybe this is something I'm seeing because I'm younger. When you're 80 years old and laying in that hospital, it probably won't be your friends by your side will be your husband or your wife. Friends MAY pop in for a visit for an hour out of the 7 day stretch you were in the hospital, but they too have families of their own to take care of.

Earlier in this post, I wrote to always put your spouse first and in parenthesis "after yourself of course." But there are times when you have to put that other person first. You have to learn in a relationship to be a little less selfish and a little more selfless. Life is a balancing act and so is love. I believe to find a long lasting happy marriage there has to be this perfect balance that seems to be so hard to acheive. You have to take some you time, but you also have to take the time to make your spouse feel special and feel loved also. You have to learn to GIVE and take. Its very easy to take love and support and time from someone you love, but i'm finding its harder for some people to give. If you are one of those people, learn to give a little. Giving a little will go a long way in the end. It may not be in your nature, but if you love your partner try and make a habit out of it for their sake and for the relationship. Those I see celebrating their 50th anniversary have found that perfect balance. I'm sure it wasn't easy, but I'm sure it was worth it.

You and your spouse have to be each others rock of support. I hope everyone can take a step back and realize exactly what that person is to you and what they can be. Friends come and go. Children get families of their own. Life happens. Make your life about the person you fell in love with. They are the most important person in your life.

Good luck in love.

"Raising Men"

Something funny I've noticed...
When I ask women this question, they always make a joke about it. They'll say things like, "Finding the strength not to kill him" or "Oh I don't know, no secret really". They never give me a straight or serious answer.

But the men do. The men who have answered this question love their wives. Every time they answer that question this look goes over their face that's hard to describe and so heart warming. Its a mix between respect, love, and happiness. Its the best facial expression I've ever seen. I want someone to talk about me the way these men talk about their wives. The men are always a little taken back at first that I asked the question, they think about it for a second, and get that look on their face when they start to answer.

There was a man who long story short...couldn't talk. He was my only patient for the night and we sat up all night talking...well he would write and I would talk. He was probably the sweetest man I have ever met. We chatted about lots of things. Then he asked me if I had a boyfriend, and at the time I did so I told him yes. He told me to not settle. He told me that I deserve the best. I've heard this from a lot of people, but it meant so much coming from him. Since we were on the topic of relationships, I asked him, "So whats the secret?" He didn't answer exactly how I had expected. He told me that all men are idiots. Men are children in larger bodies. They don't know whats good for them, even if the best thing they will ever have is standing right in front of their faces. He wrote that when I get married, or finally meet the person I pick to spend the rest of my life with, that I need to "raise him". He said that I need to teach him how to really be a man, because like he said before...all men are idiots. It was funny that he was able to admit it. He said it took a few years of "raising" by his wife and quite a few mistakes and arguments, but he finally got it. He finally grew up. So maybe his secret was patience. In my, and whoever else may be reading this, learning process, I hope that we all learn a little bit of patience for our significant other. We all screw up, so learn to be patient with them while they figure it out. I imagine its not easy, but seeing the look on these mens' faces I know they think it was worth it and i'm sure their wives did too.

Back to the wives..that don't give me any answers. I don't know why they never give me a straight answer. Is it because women just naturally take care of their families and that to us its just natural to love unconditionally? Is it unnatural to men and that's why my patient told me he needed to have his wife "raise" him? Hmmm what do you think?

Best of luck in love

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So Whats the Secret?

Being a nurse, I come into contact with a lot of elderly people who have had long-lasting, loving relationships. When I meet these people I always ask the same question, "So whats the secret?" Whats the secret to a long, loving relationship? Whether these people have been married for 20 years or 50 years, or if their spouse is alive or has already passed on...they all have something beautiful and unique to say.

I ask this question because I feel like something is wrong with relationships today. I feel like as a 24 year old woman in this society, I, too, don't have a lot of respect for marriage. I ask this question because I want to learn what it takes to have the kind of relationship that someone one day will ask me, "So whats the secret?" Even though I had an amazing role model for marriage, that is my parents marriage, I still have lost faith in marriage. We don't seem to have the same respect for our significant others that those of past generations have. It seems people just give up and think divorce is the sure fire way to fix everything. But is it really just a problem for todays generation? Is it because women today are finally able to support themselves and a family without the help of a man? Were our grandmothers or mothers miserable but couldn't divorce because of the financial strain it would cause? I hope not. I hope they stayed together because they loved each other and worked through the hard times so they could get back to the good times.

One of my favorite patients was an elderly man whose wife had passed away a few years back. He was very friendly and charismatic, but also seemed so lonely. He told me of he and his wife's adventures in France during the war. He told me what an amazing and independent woman she was. So I asked him, "So whats the secret?" He proceeded to tell me they had made a promise before they got married to never fight about money. "Money or lack there of can cause a lot of problems" he told me. I completely understood. I understand what it is to be stressed about money and if you point blame at each other or fight about who spent what, it will just get petty. So if you're reading this and you're in a relationship, married, or just dating around...take this man's advice. Promise never to fight about money.

Please share your "So whats the secret?" stories. Or if you're one of those lucky people who have a long lasting marriage, please share your secret.

I look forward to sharing what my patients have to say.