Saturday, January 7, 2012
My ex and I bought our house brand new. Due to our jobs and other constraints, we weren't able to see it grow from start to finish, but we checked in periodically along the way, once we had chosen it. The builder was developing a small gated community and we got on the preview list. We knew where the community was to be located, and we drove by a few times before the builder finally called us to select our house, and when we did so, the construction was already well under way.
The house sits on a reinforced concrete slab. Reinforced concrete. Sounds sturdy, strong, stable. It needs to be in order to support the exterior walls and the second story, and to keep me, my dog and cat safe from intruders and the elements.
In my opinion, relationships are a lot like houses. Both need a solid foundation on which to rest. Both take time to build and to build well if they are going to last. Both take time and effort to maintain if they are going to endure. The majority of relationship experts agree that the best foundation for a romantic relationship is to build it on a solid friendship.
A good foundation needs be strong in order to support the walls that form the framework of the house. I have a typical house with four sides; all the exterior walls are designed to keep out the outside world, but they also present an exterior view for all to see. There are interior walls separating the rooms from each other. After all, I have four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms where a little privacy is a necessity.
Finding the right house takes time. When house hunting, we look for a house that fits our budget and lifestyle, that suits our personality and that we find aesthetically pleasing. We walk in and get that gut feeling "This is it! I could live here!" Sometimes it takes a while to find, sometimes not. Sometimes we need to date a number of people before finding someone worthwhile to journey onward with. And sometimes, when and where we might least expect it, our instinct gives us that feeling, that "spark," telling us, "This could be him/her!" catching us off guard when it does.
When that spark does go off, and hopefully it's mutual, laying the foundation for any relationship becomes important. The foundation of friendship needs to be strong enough to support the stronger walls of the relationship. Embedded in a friendship are the very same values that form the walls of an intimate relationship. If one can't be honest or communicate with, can't trust or respect a friend, the transition to a more intimate relationship would be strenuous. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to strengthen a foundation while living in the house. Building a house takes time. If my builder had not given the foundation time to set and cure, my house could weaken over time and therefore, not be able to stand up to some of the storms that will hit it. There will be storms in any relationship, and the stronger the foundation and walls, the more comfy and cozy the inside.
Once the paperwork for buying the house is completed, we move in and start changing the house into a home. The walls themselves do not make a home, but merely a house. There are four other houses in my community that have the same exterior as mine. So, what makes mine different? The little touches inside make it my home. The furniture, the paint colors, the decor, the love and care I put into it; all transform the house into a home. So, what transforms a friendship into a more intimate relationship? Love and care do; as well as strengthening the values that are already supporting the friendship. By pushing oneself further in risking more trust, more vulnerability, more intimacy our friendship develops into a relationship. And those little things we do to show our partner we love him/her don't hurt, either.
That said, once built and occupied, houses may need to be remodeled to suit changing needs. Relationships change and grow over time as the individuals change and grow on their respective journeys. If the friendship is strong from the beginning, as the individuals change and grow, they can support each other. If not, then difficult times may lie ahead.
There's one part of the house that I haven't mentioned, and in my opinion, it ties the whole house together because it touches all four walls; the roof. Do we really take the time to develop the honesty, the communication, the trust, and the respect if we're not committed or at least willing to explore commitment? Commitment, to me, is what keeps the relationship together. Yes, love is important, for love makes a house into a home; and love is entwined in all the values that permeate a relationship. As the values get stronger, love grows; and as love grows, the values continue to strengthen, further supporting the roof of commitment. But, to me, it's the commitment to each other that is the ultimate value that keeps the relationship going.
Just my opinion.