General Non-Fiction posted May 26, 2019 Chapters:  ...5 6 -7- 8... 

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Relationship Checklist

A chapter in the book A Fly on the Wall

On Knowing When It's Right

by Rachelle Allen

Observations made and conclusions drawn from situations I encounter and record in a daily journal. They are not posted in chronological order.
March 15, 2017

If you looked at her life as if it were a movie with the sound turned off, you'd think that the girl who does my nails was granted the role of Fairy Tale Princess.

Her house is a mansion in our city's best zip code, her diamond is the size of a baseball, and she has a killer body, compliments of daily workouts with a personal trainer in her home gym (and an obviously gifted plastic surgeon). She owns the bustling salon-and-day-spa where I get a bi-weekly manicure, plays tennis three times a week at the country club, had a photo spread of her cavernous gourmet kitchen featured in an upscale architectural magazine, and, most impressive of all, owns a shameless number of the most fabulous over-the-knee stiletto boots in existence.

But turn the volume up, and you hear that she drools for men who are actually not men so much as human monoliths, with shoulder-length hair, tattoos, and bulging calf and bicep muscles. Not one of them even vaguely resembles her stout, workaholic husband, twenty years her senior, who allegedly stopped courting her once she said, "I do."

She talks about financial security as a trade-off for True Happiness and wonders if she's suffering from the Seven-Year Itch or an affliction far more deadly. As if there's a doubt in her mind or anyone else's.

"This isn't your first marriage, right?" she asks me with the boldness of a talk show host.

"No," I confess because Salon Code requires complete disclosure at all times, no exceptions.

"Well, do you think my marriage is salvageable?" she asks as if my marital track record has somehow imbued me with Divining Rights.

I'm old enough to know better than to answer the question directly, but I'm also compassionate enough not to be cavalier to her or tap dance around what she's asked. She genuinely wants feedback. So I proceed to share with her these diamonds that I unearthed during my Tumultuous Years, jewels so priceless that, when strung together, produced an amulet that enabled me to recognize my own worth. They are why, in fact,  I'm still, thirteen years later, living happily (and gratefully) ever after with a husband who is my perfect fit.
1. Respect
If there isn't mutual respect, then there is no respect. And without respect, a relationship is toxic. Leave it before it kills you, and don't question for one moment if you made the right choice. You did.
2. Silence
Not talking is an act of consideration and loving kindness when it's done with the intention of not unleashing words that would be injurious, unconscionable, or catastrophic. But a silence that is prolonged --i.e. that lasts in excess of an hour or two-- is a tool manipulators use to withhold love and affection so that people give in to their demands. Not only is it unproductive and unhealthy, it's also cruel and extremely disrespectful. (See No. 1)
3. Infidelity
In the words of my father: "There are two kinds of people in this world: Those Who Cheat, and Those Who Wouldn't Dream Of It." I've learned that mistresses and boyfriends are, very often, like rats in that there are usually so many more of them hovering close by than just the one that originally got your attention. You can opt to stay put after the initial discovery and catharsis, but you'll spend every subsequent day pretending that you don't really hear anything scrabbling around in the dark corners of your world.
4. Grievances
There is a vast difference --not a fine line-- between "annoying" and "unforgivable." The first one is not a deal-breaker; the second one is.
5. Secrets
This commodity will destroy a relationship from the inside out, and it's the precursor to full-blown Deceit. One secret intertwines with another and another and another until they strangle the life out of your bond and replace it with suspicion and the fear of what consequences the truth could hold. But in reality, no truth is more painful than even the most well-intentioned secret, because the truth says, "I know I can trust you with this" while a secret says, "I have no confidence in you whatsoever."
6. Imbalance of Power/Co-Dependence
If you think you and your mate always agree on everything, someone is --deliberately or not-- subjugating himself or herself for the sake of keeping the relationship going. The weaker of you is being a mirror so as not to either rile up or be rejected by the dominant partner. But the bad news is that either way, you're both invested in a mirage.
7. Satisfaction
A good relationship is "work," but it's satisfying work, not "a job." It requires daily attentiveness, but it's the kind steeped in desire and delight, not obligation. The bottom line is this: If your union isn't enjoyable, then you've totally missed the point of it.
8. Assessment
Your answer to the following question is the ultimate litmus test for determining how successful you consider your relationship to be:
Would you ever want one like it for your child?

If you answered 'yes,' then congratulations. With or without mansions, personal trainers, and stiletto boots, you're the one who's really living the charmed life of a Fairy Tale Princess (or Prince). But if your answer is "No, my relationship is not one I'd ever want for my child," then the obvious follow-up question has to be:
Whyever in the world are you accepting it, then, for yourself?

Because, until you're dead, you know, you always have the power to change what's not right about your life.


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