Time is what really matters

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I was having a discussion with a co-worker earlier. I told her a story about taking my daughter out for ice cream at Dairy Queen and how much we enjoyed it. This prompted her to tell me about a new custard creation at Sonic and how delicious it was. I told her it sounded intriguing and that I may just have to try that out. Then she jokingly said that my husband and I should do that for our date night.

Here’s where the conversation went from a simple exchange to something a tad more serious. She was cracking up at her “joke”. I looked at her seriously and said “why not?” And she said “Oh you wouldn’t want to go do that for your date night you need to do something much fancier than that!” I repeated my question of why not. She shrugged her shoulders and said “Oh I guess it doesn’t matter for you anymore because you’ve been married for so long.” (We’ve been married 16 almost 17 years by the way…)

I looked seriously at her and took a deep breath. I wasn’t sure if I should attempt to impart some wisdom to this young, single girl or not. I truly think that a lot of people are quite confused about expectations when it comes to so many things in the world today, like love/dating just to name one. My co-worker then gives me a perplexed look because my facial expressions hide nothing so she knew my brain was working overtime.

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“Let me just give you a little wisdom from a married woman who is also incredibly cool. If you truly love and care for someone it doesn’t matter where you are, or what you are doing. All that really matters is that you are together and spending time with the person you love. Whether you are at McDonald’s ordering off the value menu, or at the fanciest restaurant in Memphis … it doesn’t matter. As long as you are together with the person who means more to you than anything else.”

She then tries to argue her point with me by saying, “But if you are going out to the theatre to see a play you don’t want to go to McDonald’s or Sonic before a nice evening out like that!”

So I plead with her to see the error of her ways. “I’m serious here. Whether you are taking your private jet out for the flashiest date in the world, or both at home on the couch or in bed sick as dogs just watching TV. It wouldn’t matter if you are at a park eating PB & J and home made microwave popcorn that you brought to the park with you. All that matters is that you are spending time with the person that you love. That is ALL that matters is the time not the activity or the fanciness of any of it.”

She then looks at me and questions me again with a Really? I reassured her and told her that sometimes it’s nice to go out for a fancy night out, but even then it wouldn’t matter one bit about the fancy place or activity if my love wasn’t there to share it with me.

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Listen, all relationships have their ups and downs. However, it seems like so many marriages are failing in recent times. Divorce rates are through the roof and there are definitely times that a divorce is the right decision. But what if a lot of times divorce wasn’t the right choice? What if a simple adjustment of expectation was really what is necessary. Now I am not saying that adjustment would be a one-sided thing. A marriage is something that takes BOTH people to make it work. I am just really wondering how many marriages could possibly be saved a conversation about what each of you expect from the other person and trying to come to a compromise on some things or at the very least a realization that with a little work you might be able to save your marriage.

I have never once thought that marriage was going to be easy. I can promise you that I have learned that it is even more difficult that I thought it would be. Marriage is NOT a fairy tale and no spouse is perfect (husband or wife). We all have our flaws and that means every single marriage is flawed in one way or another. All we can do is try to communicate with each other and work towards bettering what we have with the person that we love enough to call our other half.

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Sure there are lots of things that make a marriage work or not work, but in the end what it all boils down to is time.

  • Communication
  • Respect
  • Love
  • Devotion
  • Finances
  • Careers
  • Housework
  • Kids
  • Family Obligations

This is a short list of things that come into play on a regular basis in my marriage. Not all inclusive by any means, but it gives you an idea for arguments sake. EVERY single thing on this list comes down to time. Taking the time to be there for someone other than yourself means all the world to others. Spouse’s included.

A person can’t communicate with themselves. All the people involved in a conversation have to take the time to listen and participate in the conversation so that everyone feels like they are being heard and not ignored.

Respect is something that people have to take the time to invest in with other people. Yes it isn’t just given out, but you have to put the time in to earn respect with someone and through that it helps you to gain respect in return.

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Love is shown in so many ways however, every single one of those ways takes time. Even a simple kiss on the forehead or cheek takes time away from something else that you could be doing in that moment. That moment may seem insignificant, however, taking that moment to show your love for one another can be earth shattering at certain times in your lives.

Do you see the point that I am trying to make? I doubt you all need me to continue on point by point through the list explaining it to you.

The bottom line for me is how much every single moment means. I have realized over the last few years that moments matter. Some moments are good, and others are bad. However, they ALL matter. I try to learn from the bad moments both about myself and about the other person involved in the bad moment. I can take those bad moments and try to improve how I handle myself in a similar situation when it comes up again. I can learn how to better interact with people through those bad moments too. Everyone reacts to things differently so if I need to adjust my behavior with certain people to make my experience with them better, then I can try to do that. It’s not me changing who I am, but it is me choosing to adjust. Me taking the time to make that adjustment for others could mean a world of change for myself and for all of the people around me.

We should not expect for everyone else to always live up to our expectations. We can attempt to communicate those expectations to others, however, that doesn’t mean they have to meet those expectations. What we expect from others isn’t always what those people are willing to give back to us. We have to take what is given to us from others and truly accept it for what it is. That may be the best that person can give at this present time. If their best isn’t what you expected, that doesn’t make it any less of a gesture.

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This whole thought on time for me definitely applies to my marriage, but I also believe that is applies to pretty much every aspect of my life.

Time is the greatest gift that we can give to anyone. Don’t put off the gift of your time when it comes to anyone that you love or care about. It’s too important not to lose another moment.

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The Golden Rule

Just in case you didn’t know this about me, I was born and raised in the South, by two Southern parents. I was taught all of the good Southern manners, and was told quite often “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Oh yes, my friends … that’s the Golden Rule. For years I lived by this very rule. I am a few days away from turning 34 years old and I feel like I have adapted the Golden Rule to something that makes a bit more sense to me and what I have learned in my life.

While I was in elementary school, I was nice to everyone and always smiled no matter what. I was also different from the other kids in many ways and since I went to a small private school, I didn’t really fit in. I was picked on relentlessly to the point where I had very little self-esteem left. However, I kept right on smiling and being nice even though I was hurting so much. Smiling and being nice wasn’t working for me, I had to find a different way. I learned not to hide my emotions and that it was ok to show how I was truly feeling. I didn’t have to smile and be nice when people were being mean and hurting me.

As I got older, I began to interpret the Golden Rule a bit differently. I thought if I treated people with kindness, love, and respect; then that is what I would get in return from them. Sadly, I learned that was not the case. When I treated people that way, there were some people who would return that behavior, then there were others who still treated me however they pleased no matter how nicely I treated them. This behavior I still don’t understand. I’m sure that I have trouble with this because I was raised in the South and that just isn’t how Southern Charm works.

Now, I’m aging even more and I have started to see that the Golden Rule has an even deeper meaning. I came to this realization sometime within the past 2 years. I have had many “friends” in my life, or at least I thought they were all my friends. However, what I have learned is that many people who come into my life are there for only a short period of time and while they are there they serve a very important purpose in my life. I have the type of personality where I like to keep all of those special people close to me forever. However, not everyone has the same view on friendship as I do. This has been a very challenging lesson to learn, and there are often times that I still struggle with this very problem.

When friends drift apart due to work, life, family, or other changes sometimes that causes them to not be able to keep in touch and have the same kind of relationship that they had before. I have always been the type to keep in touch and try to hold it all together no matter how many balls I’m juggling. However, many other people choose to allow that friendship to fade and not keep in touch. When there is a shift like this, I always do wish that we were close like we had been before. I also often wish that other people tried as hard as I do to keep in touch. I know, this isn’t always possible, but I like to hope for the impossible. No matter what though, I’m the type of person that even if we don’t talk all of the time, or see each other often, I will still be there for you as a friend when you need me. Once a friend always a friend in my book.

There is one exception to that though. If you choose to treat me or my loved ones with manipulation, hatred, disrespect and/or ugliness there is no reason for me to treat you with any kindness. Why should I go out of my way to treat you nicely if you are going to do everything you can to stomp on my kindness, spit on it and throw it out the window? This is where my version of the Golden Rule probably isn’t what I ever thought it would be. I still follow the Golden Rule each and every day, however, once that line is crossed … that rule still applies, but it has changed. I will only be as nice to you as I have to be. If life requires me to interact with you for whatever reason, then I will be cordial to you in order to make it through our interactions. But I will not go out of my way to be nice, do favors, or interact with you. There is no point in me going out of my way to be nice if all I will be met with is nastiness in return.

I know this is a very cynical point of view, and I hate that I have grown to have this point of view with anything in life. But I know that this perspective has gotten me through some difficult situations that I have been faced with in the recent past. Luckily, I have many people in my life who treat me with the same love and respect that I give to them. Sorry to go on a rant, but this topic has been on my mind a lot in the past few months due to another interesting situation that has appeared in my life. I am a positive person in almost every aspect of my life, so positive that it is almost a fault! Therefore, I give myself this one area to have a more cynical take. I figure I’m allowed to have this one area of imperfection, right? ;D

How about you? What do you think about the Golden Rule?

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