Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fine Tuning


I don't know what it is but, music has been inspiring a lot of my writing these past few days. I heard a golden oldie this morning... Lauryn Hill's "Ex Factor". Remember that? It got me to thinking about women... all of the women of my past and how they made me the man I'm still becoming. That's a mouthful ain't it? This isn't a post about any one woman but, about all of you and how I thought I had you figured out. You see...

Over the course of a lifetime, I made hundreds of mistakes in my relationships. These gaffes were partially the reason they didn't work out. After each failed relationship, I would ask myself if I had learned anything. Sometimes, I actually did learn something and then other times, it was quite evident that I didn't because I would usually make the same mistake again that I made in the last relationship. But, during those quiet times when I managed to step outside of myself and actually take stock of what I did wrong, the warning signs that I would have seen (if I'd been looking) helped me develop a program... a program of fine tuning.

I would often console myself by saying, "I'm gettin' closer to who I need to be. Next time, I won't do such and such... next time, I'll do this or that... next time, I'll have this or incorporate that." It didn't matter because, for all of my fine tuning, nobody was fine tuning my choices so, whatever deficiencies I was working on within myself, I was still finding myself attracted to superficial and high maintenance women who I could not afford financially or emotionally. My brother, on the other hand, always dated the type of girls that I (and my mother) wished that I could be dating... smart, self-confident women who weren't bad on the eyes either.

I remember asking him why it seemed that I always brought the drama while he managed to avoid it. (He wouldn't have as much to blog about as I do here... at least, not as far as his relationships are concerned.) He would always say, "I don't attract drama because I don't have time for it. When you have other things to do, you don't have time to be bothered with it. When I see drama coming, I run as fast as I can." This is why, when I met my wife and she was drama-free and I was nearly as fine tuned as I could be at the time, I couldn't understand it. (She had her own drama but, it didn't involve me or us). I wanted to make sure that if she indeed was "the one" so to speak, that I at least would be in a position to be successful.

Now, what is successful in a relationship or marriage? What is? Everybody wants and thinks they are going to be successful. I figure, successful is anything that's going to last and work. In the months before I got married, I talked to a number of divorced women about what didn't work in their marriages. They told me that one thing was, their husbands couldn't be trusted with the money. They spent it all and lights went out, water stopped running, and phones went off... and, in one case, they both wound up out in the street because they lost their home.

I resolved to always make sure that the bills were paid on time. I have a pretty practical wife so, we practically split everything down the middle and in 19 years of marriage, nothing has ever been cut off or threatened to be cut off. To my knowledge, we haven't missed a payment on anything (knock on wood). The other thing these women said went wrong was, their husbands had "wanderlust"... they couldn't keep their eyes and other body parts off of and out of other women. As much as I love women, I said that I would never cheat and so far, after 19 years of marriage I haven't done that either.

But, the main thing they said that ended their marriages was the lack of appreciation and simple acknowledgement for their spouses. This, I'm afraid, is the hardest one... the one that slips by all of us in the day-to-day raising of children, paying the bills, living, and hustling. You see, I couldn't fine tune that because I hadn't lived enough to understand that I had to do that yet. I didn't even understand that total concept until after I had been married for a while... that it's nice to tell your wife she looks good (other than, of course, when it's time for sex)... it's okay to hold a hand... and, it's okay to say thank you. It's also great to have someone to lie down next to you after the world has beat the crap out of you. Even if that's all they can do to help you, it's still nice to have that. It would be even nicer to say that once in awhile.

So, in closing, this is my way of saying "thanks” for all of that. I'm still working on that fine tuning. I'm almost there. I'm almost who I'm striving to be...

27 comments:

Somebodies Friend said...

I loved this one Keith,

Me and my wife see eye to eye on most things, but I have been known to have the blinders on now and again!

I'm also 'almost who I'm striving to be!'

I'll be the first one to admit 'I'm a project' and I need plenty of help, but I am growing more every day!

Strongblkwmn said...

Loved this post!

I think we're all works in progress. Relationships are constant work because as people we are always changing. My husband has definitely helped me shape my personality and vice versa. We've been together since I was 15 and he was 18 and now we're 40 and 43.

Like you said, "It's nice to have someone to lie down next to you after the world has beat the crap out of you."

Toni said...

Awwwwwwwww,that's so sweet.

Lisa said...

That was sooo sweet Keith

Angie B. said...

I want to show this to a couple of men I know.

Sunflower said...

We all need fine tuning. Taking stock of self is essential to the soul.

Simon Bastion said...

It's always good to give recognition to the people in our lives that we value.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

Ditto what they say..I'm with that.

James Perkins said...

Well Written brother..We are all a
work in progress.

tate2 said...

Weighing in late here Keith, this was a very introspective peice.

Opinionated Diva said...

I wouldn't exactly say Ex Factor was a golden oldie...probably because I still listen to it regularly on the ipod though! lol

Awww..this was a really sweet post. You two are lucky to have each other.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Awesome!! You know since I have been off I have started journaling about the major relationships in my life that really have helped shape me and my outlook on life.

I guess fine tuning. I love this post. Its so honest and real.

I don't do drama period even when its there. Its the thing I appreciate the MOST about TOM A is we really live with no pretense.

-OG

Thoughts of a Southern gal said...

Awww...this is one of my favorite posts now.

R. Fitzgerald said...

That fine tuning does take a while, I'm a living witness. I dig each and everything you spoke to on this one. This was proper.

Moanerplicity said...

A very wise poet named Adrienne Rich once wrote: "Two people together are a Miracle."

I believe that to be a core truth of life & of living.

It matters not that you are engaged in fine-tuning it, you already have your Miracle, Keith.

This was a very well-written well thought out post, Brotha! As long as we continue to be students of our lives & to nurture our key relationships, & to take copious notes, the better off we'll all be.

Snatch JOY!


One.

Beautifully.Conjured.Up said...

I like this post...it let me see that marriage can be a wonderful thing...thanks!

Keith said...

I'm so glad everybody is liking this post..I can't tell you how many times I rewrote it and how I figured nobody would care about something that only meant something to me. I'm delightfully surprised. Thank you to everybody for all of the positive feedback
and comments.

Sunflower said...

Thank You Keith for always sharing your world with us in such an entertaining way.

James Perkins said...

I was going to say that but Sunflower beat me to it.lolol

Raven said...

Very nice...I think we can all strive to be better, but I know she loves you just the way you are...flaws and all. (This is the part where I break into singing)

Keith said...

@Raven-lololol

Mizrepresent said...

How beautiful is that Keith...you got it, before it was too late...we really don't want much...we really don't demand much, but a man that can make us feel we are the Queen of the castle...well that's the man for me!

CurvyGurl said...

Great insight, Keith! I always appreciate your honesty. I agree with you, smart folks take the good and bad experiences as opportunities to fine tune. I think I'm reflecting and tuning more than ever...lol.


BTW, you've been tagged :) --

http://curvygurlchronicles.blogspot.com/2008/11/tuesday-taggin.html

Keisha "Kitten" Isaacs said...

Hey Brother!

I tried to comment yesterday from my phone but it wouldn't work..anyway...I wanted to tell you that you are a wonderful black man and a great role model to many. I pray that my future husband has many of your characteristics. God bless you and please continue to share you stories with us...they are wonderful big brother! God bless you and your family

Vanessa said...

Just stopped through here to weigh in on this...I loved this post...
I know a lot of men who need some
"Fine Tuning."

Halo said...

First time stopping by here..This was a great post..I enjoyed it very much..I will be looking at your other posts too.

Shai said...

Great post. I think fine-tuning can be applied to other relationships too. I think about being a parent and how I have to fine tune myself.

It is great to hear a black man write about the beautiful struggle he has had. I wish more men could get what you wrote. It is sad how some will stay stuck in time and not fine tune themselves.




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