Eight steps to perfection

Chosha has tagged me to post on the meme, “8 points that my perfect partner would have.”

Generally, I don’t do meme posts; in fact, this will be the first one I’ve ever done. But it’s a worthy theme, especially since Mary P. lifted it out of the theoretical realm and enabled me to experience it in my daily life.

My perfect partner:

1. Would have a mind of her own.

I need my partner to be an intellectual peer to me, not an adoring audience. (Not that any woman has ever had the bad judgment to throw herself down at my feet in adoration.)

Early in our relationship, I said to Mary P., “I like the fact that you have strong convictions of your own.” To my surprise, she froze like a deer in the headlights. She was afraid, based on previous experience, that the comment was a criticism — prelude to a conflict.

But I sincerely meant it as a compliment. I don’t want Mary P. (or commenters on my blog, for that matter) just to parrot my opinions. I want a partner: someone who challenges me, corrects me, and supplies what I lack.

2. Would be a skilled conversationalist.

As I once explained in a post, For the love of dialogue:

Early in our relationship, Mary P. and I came up with a simile. “When we talk,” one of us said, “it’s like we’re building with bricks: I lay a brick, you lay a brick, I lay one, you lay one …. The finished structure is something neither one of us could have built on our own.”

That constructive approach to dialogue is the cornerstone of our relationship. (That, and the extraordinary physical magnetism between us.)

3. Would value intimacy as much as I do.

As I explained in one of my posts on introversion, I believe introverts have a paradoxical need for intimacy. Introverts may seem self-contained, but that is an illusion:

Introverts need fewer relationships than extroverts, but they desire a profound degree of intimacy in the relationships they do form.

The primary person to whom I look to satisfy my need for intimacy is Mary P. — to the point where she sometimes feels slightly suffocated. But we both have a high need for intimacy, so most of the time we’re in sync here.

4. Would approach conflict the same way I do.

I hate unresolved conflict. I need intimacy, and unresolved conflict creates tension and erects barriers between people.

Mary P. and I both feel compelled to work through a conflict until it is thoroughly resolved, so no residual resentment remains. Once in a while this gets silly: we take a conflict that wasn’t that significant in the first place and we agonize over it. In those instances, we just need retreat to our separate activities for a while. The insignificance of the issue will be obvious when we gain some perspective on it.

But I’d rather err in being overzealous about resolving conflict, if the alternative is to routinely let conflicts linger, unaddressed.

I should add that “working through a conflict” doesn’t mean yelling at or insulting each other, or dredging up every disappointment we’ve caused each other since our first meeting. Mary P. likes to say that conflict can be constructive. That’s a paradoxical statement, but it’s true.

5. Would understand the principle of reciprocity.

“What goes around, comes around”, people say. Oh really? — not in this world! In my experience, most relationships are lopsided. One person gives more; the other person takes more.

When I call Mary P. my partner, I mean that it’s a relationship of equals. Sometimes I’m emotionally needy, and she plays the supportive role. Sometimes she’s emotionally needy, and I play the supportive role.

This principle should apply in every area of a relationship. Domestic tasks, for example. And sex.

(With the guys, I have to be a little bit blunt here — female readers should skip down to the next paragraph. Guys: it isn’t time to roll over and go to sleep until both of you have experienced the fireworks. And — how can I say this delicately? — the act that gets you there probably won’t be enough to get her there. Experiment, be open to direction, figure out how to achieve results.)

6. Would possess prominent maternal characteristics.

cleavageSee how this little child is snuggling up to Mary P.? (Actually, I had to edit the child’s face out of the photo for reasons of confidentiality. But take my word for it, the little hand you see is attached to a little girl.)

Dads always want Mary P. to care for their child, because her maternal qualifications are self-evident. And let’s face it: even grown men like to be babied sometimes.

7. Would enjoy the company of children.

four-seater strollerThis is a variation on point 6, the one about maternal qualities. (You thought I meant something else, you sick, sick people.) I have children from a previous marriage. Back when Mary P. and I first linked up, when my children were young, I can’t imagine that any woman who didn’t enjoy the company of children would have had anything to do with me.

And of course, my children are still part of my life. We’ve got a bunch of years ahead of us before they reach adulthood.

8. Would be independently wealthy.

My perfect partner would have enough money to make me a kept man. I could quit my job and write full time, until I could make a decent living at it.

(Oh well, 7 out of 8 isn’t bad.)

Bonus alternative: Would play the piano.

play me a melody
 
In lieu of number 8, I’ll accept an ability to play the piano. I love to putz around the house while Mary P. provides live music in the background. It is positively delightful!
 
 
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are other things I could add to the list. My perfect partner:

  • would continually seek to enrich herself intellectually, and to develop in terms of character;
  • would be a believer, or at least take some pleasure in my obsessive interest in theology;
  • would provide me with a steady supply of chocolate.

But enough already! I’ve already got a partner who is perfect for me!

Be my Valentine, Mary P.!

valentine angels

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

copyright © 2006, Stephen

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mary P.
    Feb 07, 2006 @ 07:58:00

    Perfection?? How could I refuse to be your valentine after that? I love you!

    p.s. To clarify: I have never “babied” any of the daycare dads with my, er, maternal attributes. (As you well know, I wear a shirt over top when they’re around.)

    Reply

  2. Caloden
    Feb 07, 2006 @ 11:06:00

    awwww, Mary P was right– are you sure that you like her being maternal in that picture, or do you just like her mammary glands?

    Reply

  3. Sadie Lou
    Feb 07, 2006 @ 11:06:00

    How romantic! I love reading about other people’s successful marriages.

    I loved the pic with the little girl snuggling with Mary P. and I love Mary p.’s P.S.!
    (if this posted twice, I’m sorry–blogger was being funny.)

    Reply

  4. jen-o-rama
    Feb 07, 2006 @ 11:11:00

    whoops, Caloden was me– I was working on her blog last night and didn’t realize I was still signed in as her.

    Reply

  5. Susan
    Feb 07, 2006 @ 11:50:00

    That is SO lovely. Happy Valentine’s Day to you both!

    Reply

  6. snaars
    Feb 07, 2006 @ 12:08:00

    Great entry! You and Mary P. are fantastic communicators, and an inspiration.

    Reply

  7. Q
    Feb 07, 2006 @ 13:16:00

    • Mary P.:
    It’s a delicate process, marketing yourself to the dads without scaring off the moms.

    • Caloden / jenorama:
    Mammary glands are symbolic of motherhood. Of course, they’re also symbolic of sex, even if that isn’t their original purpose.

    The nice thing is, I don’t have to choose between the two options.

    • Sadie Lou:
    It’s a shame I had to edit out the little girl’s face, because the scene is touching in more ways than one.

    • Susan:
    Thanks!

    • Snaars:
    When Mary P. and I found each other, it was like winning the lottery. (Though I might prefer to say that God brought us together.) I don’t see how any other relationship could be as ideal for me as this one is.

    Reply

  8. Cheryl
    Feb 08, 2006 @ 21:22:00

    I think it is fantastically wonderful that you speak so incredibly highly of Mary P.!!! There is way too much partner-bashing out here in blogland. And everywhere else for that matter.

    I STILL think something else about #6. I must be a sick, sick people. 😉

    Reply

  9. chosha
    Feb 09, 2006 @ 12:15:00

    Okay that was good. I liked #4 especially. Thank you for doing your very first meme!!

    And can I just say that it was totally worth tagging you just to get the good goss on you and MaryP. Woohoo! I had no idea you too people, both of whose blogs I read, were together. Very fun. Sounds like you’ve got a good thing going, too. That’s so awesome.

    I’m with the peeps asking tongue-in-cheek questions about #6. Was the use of the word ‘prominent’ in that one a Freudian slip do you think?? ^_~

    Reply

  10. Q
    Feb 09, 2006 @ 22:19:00

    • Cheryl:
    way too much partner-bashing.

    I totally agree — in the blogosphere and on TV and even face-to-face. No good comes of it.

    • Chosha:
    Freudian? Not at all — I put a lot of thought into choosing that word, “prominent”.

    Reply

  11. Lynne
    Feb 10, 2006 @ 11:18:00

    A lovely Valentine.

    Reply

  12. Carolyn
    Feb 11, 2006 @ 12:32:00

    Fantastic post! From everything you’ve written about Mary P. previously, I could see her evolve as that ideal partner for you, containing all 8 of those attributes.

    I also really enjoyed the three photos you posted of her. Yes, while one displayed an undoubtedly more “sensual” side of her (I’m trying to be lady-like), they all radiate grace and intelligence.

    Happy valentines day to you both!

    Reply

  13. Q
    Feb 11, 2006 @ 18:49:00

    Lynne:
    Thanks!

    Carolyn:
    Thanks, and happy valentine’s day to you and the boyfriend.

    Reply

  14. The Misanthrope
    Feb 13, 2006 @ 11:00:00

    Well, now have a set of goals to inspire.

    Reply

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