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Relationships Require Effort and Time

Ann Stoll

I'm discovering that the older I get, the more important it is to foster and nourish relationships. I think we take them for granted in our younger years. We have besties and BFFs thinking that they will always be there, no matter what. And to some extent, this is true.

As a kid, I got along with pretty much everyone. I didn't belong to any particular group of kids. I called myself a floater. It just worked out that way and it was good. I made it all the way through high school like this. Then I got married at a young age and we developed our couple type friendships. I loved this! None of us had a nickel between us, so we gathered every weekend at someone's house and brought a dish to pass and then played board games or cards. It was a wonderful time. And then it happened. 

When my husband and I divorced, it seemed like our friends disappeared. I will admit. I was ashamed of being divorced. I never thought it would happen to us. We were in love, for crying out loud! But it happened. And I had no friends left. It's rather awkward being a third wheel. And it's definitely not very fun. All it does is drag up constant reminders that you have a failed marriage. So I retreated.

Several years later and another failed long-term relationship, I found the husband I have now and we are going on 22 years! Marriage is hard. Just plain Hard! While I wouldn't trade him for anything, I have a gem of a husband who puts up with all of my stuff, it requires daily commitment and choice. Love is not a gushy feeling thing. Love is a daily choice. You have to choose to love, each and every day.

Now that my kids are older and don't need me as much, I have more time to reach out to the younger gals or women in my age range and touch base with them. I think by the time we get to this stage, we have forgotten how to really connect with people outside of our families on a deeper level. I'm not talking about the casual checking in with the typical "how are you doing?" and we all know what our response is. No, I'm referring to actually making appointments on a regular basis to really get to know people, so that when you ask "How's it going?" you might actually get an honest answer. And don't forget to stop and listen to the answer. I truly think when someone asks me that question, they want to know what's going on with me. But I find that not to be true. As soon as I start to answer the question, they look agitated or aren't focusing in on what I'm saying. So I stop. I answer "Fine". And I retreat. 

I don't want to be one of those people. I genuinely want to know you. Tell me about yourself. What makes you tick? How are you today? If you ever see me and I ask that question "How are you?" I mean it, so tell me. I'm all ears.