Roam-mantic (1,249)

August 25th, 2011

“You ask me if there’ll come a time when I won’t require you…”

Lyrics from The Association.

I woke this morning to the fifty-ninth birthday of my wife of forty-one years, Elizabeth Gill Ristine. Most folks know her as “Dollie,” which was the handle given by her father early on in describing her appearance—at least through his eyes. It is on occasions of birthdays and anniversaries that we contemplate the height and depth of our appreciation of another person. The two common words that come to mind during these times are “need” and “want.” In other words: I need you. I want you.

Candidly, after forty-one years of relationship, need is just flat-out too needy. If you really believe that someone is necessary to make your life complete, then the brief moments when you celebrate that lack which is fulfilled in their presence is overwhelmed by the number of times that you resent being so dependent. Neediness is never sexy. Neediness is never particularly intelligent. Neediness is not sufficient to maintain the integrity of a daily, ongoing friendship with someone you plan on being with for a long time.

On the other hand, wanting someone is a spark—a breeze that blows across your bow to temporarily fill your sails with the wind of eroticism. Passion is wonderful. Without it, the human race would probably never procreate. But honestly, no one always wants to be with someone else. Not only is that philosophy unrealistic, but if we begin to believe that the absence of “want” is the presence of “dislike,” we soon will separate.

So as I look at my forty-one-year journey with Elizabeth Gill Ristine, I realize that it truly revolves around the word “require.” Because the minute we fail to put ourselves in a vulnerable position, launching on a roam-mantic journey to view life together, we cease to feel the responsibility to require one another in order to generate the energy to propel our talents and abilities.

Honestly, when Elizabeth and I were not working together—requiring one another’s efforts to bring about a common good—we naturally drifted apart. At that point you begin to wonder if you even like each other. Foolish.

When we got together in the fall of 1970, it was “us against the world.” Nobody thought we had a chance. Her parents were against us and my mother was very willing to join their mood. The town gossips were weighing in on their particular rendition of our story and we became alienated from the community that had given us birth and residence. We required each other—for sustenance, faith, talent and direction.

Over the years at various times, that requirement has waned. But when all of our children grew up, we sold our house and set out to roam across America, to once again find the true state of being roam-mantic—requiring one another. She schedules me, runs errands, helps tear down my equipment, and I go do the bookings that she has provided, trying to turn them into blessing and benefit. It has re-kindled a deeper interest in one another. It has also lit some fiery arguments. Because you see, requiring one another does ignite the flames of frustration and concern.

But I can tell you that on this fifty-ninth birthday, she is required. It is not as sappy as being “needed” nor as fleeting as being “wanted.” It is required—included while also factoring in just enough dependence to keep it precarious and nerve-wracking. It is open to the potential of sharing a common victory—and defeat. Most marriages fail because the romance that launched them turns into the finance and boredom which sinks them.

If you want to be successful in a relationship, you must require one another. You must make sure that whatever project or potential you are pursuing has as much equality of danger and responsibility for both of you as humanly possible. The myth of the bread-winner is the destruction of blissful male and female interaction. For after all, in the Garden of Eden, Adam did not till the ground while Eve cooked the meals. They did all the work together.

Work together to get the bread. The more often you succeed in doing this, the more positive your results will be.

So I say “happy birthday” to a woman I’ve been with for forty-one years, yet in this last passage of the twelve months, she has once again joined me in a “roam-mantic” odyssey—to live out the original dream of that young, teen-aged 1970s couple who made a stand against their world.

“You ask me if there’ll come a time when I won’t require you …

Never, my love.”

Published in: on August 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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