The men's meeting was held Wednesday on the boat. We didn't get but 2 pages read because each of us had a lot to share. But they concurred that sitting on a sailing yacht on a brilliant fall day was completely awesome. We shared about intimacy in relationships and how it is hard to maintain over the long haul because it morphs into something different.
"It is only in long-term relationships that we are called upon to navigate that delicate balance between separateness and connectedness and that we confront the challenge of sustaining both...." (Lerner, 1989).
Two of the men are divorced and not married now. Both, who are recovering alcoholics, are struggling with intimacy in new relationships. Three of us have been married to the same person for at least a couple of decades. We struggle with how to keep the intimacy present in our relationships that have been affected by alcoholism. And I know just how difficult it is to not sacrifice myself for another or resent them for their emotional absence.
"An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the self and each party expresses strength and vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way." (Lerner, 1989). Learning how to achieve such balance is not easy. It requires honesty and courage to be together without overpowering or suppressing another. It also means awareness when apathy begins to creep in. And so we are exploring the application of recovery principles in our most intimate relationships.
And isn't love really at the root of being with another person? I don't think that I realized at the onset of my relationship with my wife that I was really seeking a best friend. Now I know that besides the physical attraction and intelligence, I was seeking someone who would be my life partner regardless. But the give and take, the expectations, and eventual disappointments can cause a lot of damage. I didn't have the self-awareness or communication skills to cope with the problems that ensured. And I didn't have knowledge of the 12 steps to deal with alcoholism.
But togetherness feels much less confining than it was in years past. We know that we are life partners. I'm hoping that by meeting with several other men, we will learn from each other about how to make the life partnership happen and get better.