Monday, October 22, 2012

Open Letter to All Young Lovers

Today's post for age 22 of the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge comes from Kim Van Sickler

I had every intention of writing a starry-eyed recollection of my wedding, at age 22. However, the sad reality is, I am so disgusted over continuing confrontations with my ex, more than a decade after my divorce, that I'd like to offer something much more meaningful. Please pass it along to all the young lovers in your life.

Open Letter to all Young Lovers

You are in love!  Congratulations! You know it will last forever! I hope you are right. But before you make what everyone hopes is a lifetime commitment, but is sadly that way for only half of us, take a moment to read the meanderings of someone who wished she'd done it all differently.

1. Human brains aren't fully developed until age 25. Since we haven't fully evolved into the person we will become, marrying before this age might mean the person you end up with down the road really is different from the one you fell in love with. And vice versa.

2. Make sure you've lived life before settling down. Take care of yourself for a little while. In this day and age, everyone needs to shake their sillies out (The Wiggles) before making a life-long commitment. What's the rush? Isn't it better to see what's out there first, before making that non-refundable purchase?

3. For those of you moaning, "I can't let him go! He's the love of my life! He might find someone else," I offer to you these sage words of advice from a poster that hung in my bedroom when I was younger, that sadly I did not follow. "If you love something, set it free, if it comes back to you, it's yours, if it doesn't, it never was."

4. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other. (Dalai Lama) Your lives should be full when separate. If one lives to serve the other, that's a business relationship. If one wants the other to give up something meaningful, that's control, not love.

5. Be wary of certain qualities in your mate. If he/she likes to win at all costs, obsesses over past wrongs, and revels in never backing down--RUN AWAY. While this tenaciousness might be an admirable quality in certain business executives, it is not a desirable quality in a mate. If you end up divorcing someone like this, don't expect an easy time of it. If you end up having children with someone like this and divorcing them when the children are still minors, heaven help you.

6. Once you have children, the problems don't go away after the divorce. If your ex wants to play legal games with you, guess what? He/she can! You might get to return to court on a regular basis to argue some more about things like visitation and money. And even when you're not in court, your ex can use the children to mess with you in so many insidious ways. Then there are all of the kids' special events to look forward to. How do you work something like a high school or college graduation when the two of you can't even be in the same room together?

7. If you rush into marriage early, you might miss your true life partner when he/she comes along. If half of all marriages end in divorce, there's another percentage that turn down that road to Misery, Indifference, or Regret. People hanging out in those back alleys are in no position to find true love. They're messed up, damaged goods.

OK. Now I'm going to lighten up a bit. I do believe in true love. I found it the second time around. When you find that person you want to make yours forever, ask yourself two questions.

1. Is he/she a good listener? I mean a really good listener. Do they stop talking long enough to find out how you're doing? Do they unglue their eyes from the TV long enough to ask about your day, and engage in real conversation? And do they do this for you every day? Studies show that listening is the single most important quality a mate can have. Don't select a mate who doesn't listen. It won't last.

2. Does he/she respect you? You. The personality/brain/soul. Not, do you think he/she's sexy. Not, is your mate a good provider. Do you prefer talking to him/her more than just about anybody else? Do you turn to him/her for advice or help in making decisions? Do you care about each other enough to give and take so that the relationship isn't one-sided, but balanced?

If you can shout, "YES!" from the rooftops on these two, then a heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS. As long as you are over 25, have played the field a bit, don't cling, don't make demands, and don't marry a Neanderthal, you just might be one of those who make it! I'm rooting for you, because I'm a sucker for a good love story.


  1. This is good advice, even though I didn't follow it when I married at 19 (see Oct 19 post). Jim & I beat the odds, but it wasn't easy. We had to work at it. Each of us had to be willing to concede on certain points.
    We've watched the struggle with exes that you describe happen to many of our friends & family. As for the graduation situation (& weddings will follow that bring up the same issue), decide to be civil (if not friendly) at those occasions for the sake of your children. Don't fawn all over the current spouse in front of the ex, just focus on the reason you're both there--your kids. After all, they are the something wonderful that resulted from your union. OK, that's enough Dear Abby-ing for me today. Thanks for offering balance to my post.

    1. Yep, you are definitely one of the lucky ones! I was sure I would be too, at the time.

  2. I know a lot of women who could write the same post. Some situations are worse than others. I'm happy to see young people waiting longer before they marry. I remember going to a party with some of my high school friends after college graduation and being the only woman there who wasn't engaged.

    1. And that worked out pretty good for you!

  3. Great post Kim, I'm in the same boat as you, married way, WAYYYYY to young the first time, was actually more like playing house than being married, she cheated, I caught them, and in retrospect it was the best thing that ever happened to me, because I met Patty, hasn't been all beers and brats, but it's been a truly honest marriage to the best friend a man could ever wish for... Yay for second time around, and conrgats to those that make it the first time though.

    1. You're right about that. We have to deal with the lemons we're given and make lemonade. I never would have met my current husband if I hadn't been married to my first and living over in Naples, Italy...

      I am so excited to meet Patty in a few weeks!

  4. Great advice, Kim. And a beautiful picture. So sorry it ended badly. I got married at the same age, and I agree with you, it's too young! Fortunately, we were better matched and are still happily married, but those first years were very hard, and maybe wouldn't have been if we'd waited a bit.

  5. Oh, I so needed that advice when I was 22.