Originally Posted by hyperskeptic
(I suppose they should keep in a safe-deposit box along with a copy of the deed to their house.)
ooo that's a good idea, I should really keep a copy of our house title in the safety deposit box... But not with our relationship, because then I would have to get a key and go to the bank every time I want to see it. And the bank isn't open on Sundays.
Stop thinking of a relationship as a thing that may blink out of existence; stop pursuing any particular, off-the-shelf model of relationship. Instead, invest in relating to other people, and find with each of them your very own way of being open to one another.
I agree with the "off-the-shelf" bit, and with relating to people as people first.
Abstraction is an important feature of human thinking. Without abstraction, there would be no such thing as "the environment." There's just a bunch of plants and animals, rocks and atmosphere, relating. But "protecting the environment" is a very good idea. It's beneficial to all those plants and animals, not to mention the people, to think of "the environment" as a thing that exists. And it does, abstractly. And relationships also "exists" -- abstractly. There would be no such thing as "a family," just a bunch of people with similar DNA living under the same roof or maybe even just getting together at Christmas. Money, companies, universities, governments, countries, laws..... Indeed, human society is built upon abstractions and treating them like they're real things that have objective existence outside of the people who relate to them. But of course, if you take all the people off the planet, then all the paper notes and metal coins are just trinkets, the companies and universities are just empty buildings, governments and laws are just scribbles on paper, countries are just colourful lines drawn on maps. So yeah, take away the spouses and marriage is just a fancy certificate. But the people are there, and marriage is so much more than that fancy certificate.
I do find that in some cases, thinking of "the relationship" as something to nurture also has practical value. No, it should not be treated as the be-all-end-all, a thing to be put on a pedestal above and beyond the people involved. But in so much as any abstract concept has any real existence, certain relationship types absolutely do.
For example, with Gralson working out of town all the time, it's easy to drift apart as we do our own thing in different parts of the world. Absence does not always make the heart grow fonder. Now, I don't need him and I don't need a marriage. I can be perfectly happy without either, with an adjustment period to mourn the loss of course. But I love him and I enjoy being married to him. Thing is, if I didn't make a point of encouraging us to nurture "our marriage," this drifting apart would just continue unabated. Because, by the very nature of drifting apart, the more it happens, the less it bothers you, and the less it's worth the effort to reverse.
I don't want to drift apart, and the only way I can think of to prevent that is to think of "the relationship" as a thing to nurture. Because despite the drift that sometimes happens, we do still nurture each other, we still communicate and connect and ... relate. But the way we relate changes when we don't make a concentrated effort to focus our intent.
In a nutshell, there are features of "he" and "I" that are great, but there are also features of "how we relate" (i.e. "our relationship") that are enjoyable in their own right, and I see nothing objectionable about calling those very real features a "thing." It's important to realize that "the relationship" isn't some thing existing over there, all by itself, with or without us. It's a thing existing between