A couple months ago, I told you in a blog that on our second date, Jerry told me he could teach me a lot about love – and I knew, in that moment, my life would never be the same again.
That was 9 months ago. And I want to share with you some of the things that I have learned since then.
The Silver Bullet – Put the Other Person First
I remember, on our first date, asking this guy, who seemed so “flatlined,” somewhat sad and shy, what made his marriage successful. I was curious because here he was on his first date in 45 years, about 2 years after losing his wife to Alzheimer’s. Somehow, I thought if he could talk about it, he might open up a bit and, I might learn about love in a way that I have never experienced.
He said he learned early on, that for his marriage to be successful, he and his wife agreed that they would put the other person and their relationship first.
My first reaction was: yeah, right! How does that work? What does that even look like!
Givers and Takers
Coming from a family and previous marriage based on conditional love this seemed like a big stretch. I, like many other women, was raised to believe that “you do whatever it takes to make the relationship work,” which usually meant having no boundaries, no expectations and no reciprocity in love or life… I had put my husband and other lovers first, but it was a one-way street, usually leading to a dead end. I had been with “takers” not “givers.”
Learning to Receive
So how does it work to be the receiver?
I really had no experience in this arena. Having “given” to so many “takers,” would I even know how to receive?
Could I receive, without condition or judgment or fear of retribution?
So my first step was to acknowledge this and come clean with this guy I barely knew, about my total ineptitude, fear and uncertainty about how to “receive love.”
AACCKK. Here I am a person who has a business speaking, teaching and coaching about communication and I have no clue what I am doing and have to admit it. Granted, my work was more “corporate communication skills” but I was learning quickly that those skills were useless in love or a truly authentic, personal relationship.
And – Why was I telling this guy this on our first dates? I wasn’t even sure I liked him!
But his response was simple and gentle: it was about doing things you think will make the other person happy; putting them first. Everyday things, like pumping the gas or filling the gas tank, giving the better pancake or last piece of toast or holding the umbrella over her head in a rainstorm.
My thoughts drifted to the times I was left in a parking lot at night, scraping 4 inches of snow off my car as my boyfriend drove off in his warm car or waking in a house filled with carbon monoxide after my husband left me there, saying he didn’t think it as safe…
Holy cr** – what would it be like to be with someone who put me first? Could I actually accept and receive it? Could I trust it? And could I reciprocate with love, not fear or obligation?
Could I put the other person first and not lose myself in the process?
Trust With Eyes Wide Open
Jerry told me on our second date that I could count on him to put me and our relationship first. I was wary, but decided to trust with eyes wide open. There was just something about him that I felt I could trust. He later shared with me some of the things he did to earn my trust, knowing that I had been fiercely independent and had not had a good track record for love.
For me, part of this process was to put my fears and apprehensions aside and focus on what I wanted. I could see that here was a man who was genuine, caring and kind and was offering me an opportunity to explore a relationship, unlike anything I had known before, and was willing to coach me in the process.
Holy cow… What a concept! Having a partner coach ME!
The more I heard his ideas, philosophies and beliefs about life and business, I realized how much I could trust and learn from this guy.
Have My Back
The bottom line was, I was learning what it means when a person says they “have your back. “
We use that expression so casually that I began to wonder, what does it really look like, sound like or feel like, when someone actually has your back.
This was a whole new concept for me to embrace – having someone who put me first and who had my back! And I have to say, I am over the moon crazy about this guy and while I am still learning – I now have an idea of what it feels like to be “put first.”
Here’s What It Looks Like
So if you aren’t sure what that would be like, here’s a measure for you to consider based on a recent experience:
Driving in St Croix can be challenging, especially since we drive on the left side of the road. Jerry asked me recently how I was feeling navigating the pot-hole laced, winding roads. I said was feeling more confident, except when I encountered intersections or had to turn opposite oncoming traffic.
On a recent occasion, we were driving our own cars and got separated at a stop light. He proceeded to our destination and I lagged behind at stop lights. I knew I was going to have to cross over an onslaught of oncoming cars to get to our destination point and braced myself for it.
Lo and behold – as I approached the turn off point, I saw Jerry – standing in the middle of the road – stopping traffic as I approached, so I could turn, unencumbered.
Who would do that? Stop traffic so I could turn?
Jerry would – because he puts me first and “has my back.”
I am grateful every day to learn about love from this man.
Marty Stanley is a national speaker, author and consultant on personal and organizational change. If you’re looking to up-your-game or transform your life or organization, Marty has a process that will be unique to you. No cookie cutter models like other consultants. Interested? Give her a call 816-695-5453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FYI – I may be in the Virgin Islands where there are chickens on the roads – but we are a US territory and have reliable internet and Zoom! And I’m open for business!