Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

In Romance, See What’s There, Not Just What You Think Is There

with 7 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about two things. One is about romance, and the second is about the nature of observation.

See, we as human beings want to see what we desire most. This can delude us into staying in bad relationships far longer than their sell-by date (certainly, I did, in my first marriage; thank goodness I found Michael in the end). Because we see every single small gesture as full of meaning…which it is, if the feelings are true.

But what if they aren’t? What if your significant other is lying to you? What then?

We have to observe what the truth is before we can grasp that truth.

In my case, with my first marriage, it took me several long years to realize two things. (Yes, I’m big on two things today for some reason.) The first was that the way I saw my then-husband was not who he truly was. The second was that he was not the person I needed.

When I met him, I was quite young. So was he. Maybe he wanted to be the man I needed. But he just couldn’t be that person, no matter how much I wanted him to be.

There were good things, even then, that I missed after I divorced him. He liked the same music I did. He read many of the same books.

But then, there were the drawbacks, which I decidedly did not miss. He had wit, but not a lot of depth. And at the time, he was incapable of being faithful.

(I hope his second wife has found him to be much more faithful than I. But that’s up to them, of course. And as always, I digress.)

So, persistence of vision led me into a trap. The trap was that I saw only the best iteration of my ex-husband. Not the entirety of him. (Not even close.) I saw that because when we met, he was on his best behavior. And I hoped that was all he was…or that he would deepen and broaden and become more and more interesting over time.

That did not happen.

The person it did happen with, eventually, was Michael. He was funny, smart as a whip, shared many interests with me, but not all. We had amazing, long, in-depth, interesting conversations. He was more fascinating the longer I knew him. I loved him, I loved being with him, and I very much enjoyed being his wife, because he was exactly who he said he was.

(Not to mention, he was as faithful as the day is long. And honorable. And so many things that I could go on for days and still not tap the entirety of him. But I’d better finish this blog instead.)

Michael was not the first person I’d entered into a relationship with after my first marriage failed. But he was the only one who mattered.

I could tell, by observation, that Michael cared about me and wanted only what was best. I knew by what he did — how often we talked (as our relationship started as a long-distance one and proceeded that way for about six or seven months), what we talked about, how much he remembered of what I’d said, even what he sent me in the mail — that he was an honorable, loving man.

Someone worthy of me. Someone worthy of love.

Michael was ever-changing, but always at the bedrock level was the same. Honest. He’d tell you the truth, even if he would’ve rather not, because he knew nothing real could proceed without it. And the depth of feeling he had for me was incredible.

Ultimately, even though we didn’t get a lot of Earthly time together, Michael’s love and influence changed my life. It’s made me a better person.

Again, I know this by observation. I know this by re-reading our letters to each other. (Mostly e-mail, but a few are dead-tree versions.) I know this by the stories he wrote. I know this by every action he ever performed.

There’s a big difference between someone who truly loves you and someone who only says they do. That difference is as clear as night and day, but you have to first perceive it before you can see it. And you have to admit to yourself, when you’re in the wrong relationship, that it’s time to go.

I fought that realization before I divorced my ex. In a way, he forced my hand, because he started the next relationship before he was done with me. But his action in doing that somehow got through to me that he was not about to change; he could not be the person I needed, and he’d already left, emotionally and spiritually. He’d made that choice to go.

So, you may be wondering why I’m talking about this. (No, it’s not just because of rewatching the new Matrix movie, Resurrections, again. Though I enjoyed it even more the second time around, I will say.)

We see, often, what we expect to see. So if we are in love, we expect to see that our significant other loves us in return. We look for reasons to believe what we think is right, rather than observe how they’re behaving, or listening to what they actually say, or watching their body language, or a thousand other little details that tell a quite intricate story if we just paid attention.

In this New Year of 2022, I urge you to pay attention to what is real. Observe. Listen. Pay attention.

Whether in romance, in life, in work, or in play — or in all of them — paying attention matters. And you should not ever stay with someone who doesn’t respect you as much as he respects himself.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 1, 2022 at 6:54 am

7 Responses

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  1. An honest and open “observation” 🙂

    Kayelle Allen

    January 1, 2022 at 11:40 am

  2. A wonderful tribute to Michael Barb. He is still here, through your posts, and so ‘belongs to the ages’ through your readers.
    Relationships are messy, even what appear to be the casual ones which appear to be the norm if not compulsory or so some think.
    I am thinking ‘Love’ works out in two broad ways:
    There’s ‘Being in Love’ which comes with the initial rushes when meeting that person who attracts you and responds in equal measure, this brings to my mind the The Marvelletts and ‘When You’re Young and in Love’ (although age is not the definer here).
    Then there is loving someone, and this is not filled with happy music chords, uplifting images and dancing through parks or meadows. This is getting to know them, faults and all, realising who that person is and wanting to stay with them, they in turn see you for who you are and make the same decision. Thus comes all the hard slog, the failures, the disappointments, the challenges. And yet you still stay together, because you, together, will not let go. That is hard. Sometimes the good memories are slender, but at the end of the day, you are still together, because together you….. are.

    deteremineddespitewp

    January 2, 2022 at 3:57 am

    • Yes. That’s exactly it, Roger. And the difference is as clear as night and day, once you see it.

      Barb Caffrey

      January 2, 2022 at 10:45 pm

      • And yet Barb, some folk need to rub the sleep from their eyes or clean their glasses.

        deteremineddespitewp

        January 3, 2022 at 3:57 am

      • True enough. And as I said, when I was younger, I was guilty of this, too.

        Fortunately, I matured. 🙂

        Barb Caffrey

        January 3, 2022 at 7:00 pm

      • Been there too Barb. 🙂

        deteremineddespitewp

        January 4, 2022 at 3:11 am


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