I have heard the phrase “love-hate relationship” often in the past several weeks. I’ve said the words, written the words, and I’ve had the words said and written to me. These words have surfaced in my life recently with a frequency that has made me take a step back to ponder their meaning. I had to take a moment to explore the notion that the frequency with which I was hearing the words “love-hate relationships” might have a significant meaning at this time in my life.
When I looked for a definition of love-hate relationships, I found this: The simultaneous coexistence of two opposed and conflicting attitudes, emotions, etc. (See ambivalence .) Ambivalence, huh? I find that interesting, because I always considered the definition of ambivalence to mean that a person simply did not care about some particular person, situation, thing, or idea.
As I thought more about love-hate relationships, I realized that I have quite a few situations, persons, responsibilities, and things in my life that would fall into the love-hate category. In other words, I have kept things in my life that fall into both categories. I love AND hate at the same time. An example would be a particular couple who often invite T and I over to socialize on the weekends. I LOVE these people, because they are good people, but I HATE spending time with them, because they are boring as hell. Love-Hate. Of course, as adults we are often called upon to do things that we may not enjoy simply for the sake of responsibility or “doing the right thing.” We don’t want to hurt our friends’ feelings, so we endure an occasional evening of incredibly boring small talk.
At some point in our adult lives, we realize that we don’t have an endless amount of time. There is an expiration date stamped somewhere on each of us, although we can’t see what it says. As we age, we begin to feel a sense of urgency that precludes us from wasting time with things that don’t satisfy our emotional or spiritual needs. Love-Hate relationships suck our time and energy, but they provide very little in return. (I am NOT responsible for the fact that our friends are boring, but I AM responsible for how much of my precious time I devote to them simply because I think that they are nice people.)
Of course, there are some situations that require the patience to endure a love-hate relationship. As parents, we are required to love our two-year-old even as we hate the fact that each day we will endure a sweet, little toddler that is testing out his new-found wilfulness. Thank goodness that the little demon looks like an angel while he is at slumber. Right now, I am dealing with my precious new puppy. It’s a lot of work, but his wagging tail and puppy kisses make the parts that I hate well worth the efforts.
I returned this evening from a trip to Chicago with my daughters. Chicago, ah Chicago. Chicago is probably one of the biggest love-hate relationships of my life. I love the city. I hate the city. Each and every time I go to Chicago, I am excited to see the city appear on the horizon, and each and every time, I am happy to see it recede into the cornfields of my home. All in all, the total value of my experiences in Chicago are worth any discomfort I have in dealing with the city.
As I rode on the train home, I thought about this concept of love-hate relationships. Life is life….there will never be a completely smooth path. There will always be bumps in the road. Love will never be perfect. I thought about Chicago. What things do I love about the city? What things do I hate? Should I never go there again due to the fact that certain things drive me crazy every single time I am in the city? Of course, not. Love-hate relationships will always exist in our lives. We simply need to take the time to carefully assess each situation. What are our motives? Is the love part going to outweigh the hate part?
Love > Hate = Worth It!
Hate > Love = NOT Worth It!
Doesn’t that seem simple? It is! But how often in our lives do we really take a moment to step back and think about such things? All too often, we do what is expected of us, or what others expect from us, without taking a moment to consider whether our actions are what is right for US.
This coming weekend, there are three things laid out in front of me. I have three choices of how I will spend my time. Two of the things are things that others want me to do. Two of these things would benefit me career-wise or socially. One of them is a volunteer activity. Now doesn’t it seem terrible that I would consider bailing on that? What I really want to do this weekend is to spend time with my family and my extended family. My son, Andrew is home until Sunday. What I really want to do is invite family and friends over. I want to smoke a Boston butt for 14 hours, buy a few cases of beer, and listen to some hillbilly music with those who are nearest and dearest to me. I want to laugh, and eat, and stay up late. I want to create moments that make us blush to remember, but will always bring a smile to our faces. This is an easy decision when I apply the formula above. Looks like I better start making a grocery list.