Speak What is Meaningful to You

Michael Burns
MDI Contributor

In my case, being in a successful long-term committed relationship with a woman is the most challenging project I’ve undertaken in my life.

It is important to note that I have NOT been a father, have not raised kids, have not taken on parenting, which may be truly the most challenging project.

The difficulties I experienced in all my intimate relationships came from ME. The underlying process through the course of my life has been learning thoroughly who I am. Knowing who I was had been missing in all my previous matings until now, with my third wife.

Our current marriage of 25 years is a success, mainly because both of us have committed to learning, understanding, and improving who we are. Then there had to be a total commitment to the team, “Team We,’ to allow for “commitment before ego.” 

My wife and I clearly have entrenched, strong egos with particularly unique lifestyles, so it is vital that we have a higher purpose to serve something bigger than our individual wants and conditionings. An integral factor to our success has been that we both had embraced a code of honor, complete with standards to use as a road map to prioritize aspects of our lives, and ways of dealing with what comes our way.

Her mentoring tool is the teachings of AA; mine is what I call “Men’s Work.” Such work joins me with men committed to mentoring, inspiring, serving, as well as being mentored, being inspired, and being served.

Something I have found in all of my intimate relationships – my wife and my men – is that if I don’t speak what is meaningful to me, and I don’t listen to what is being shared with me, then there will be barriers to clarity and understanding between us. Even when thoughts and feelings are said, misunderstandings show up as barriers. Some of you reading may empathize that aging brings on misunderstandings and confusion at an alarming rate.

I believe that engaging wholeheartedly in Men’s Work is also participating in a committed relationship. This relationship between me and the circle to which I am committed works when the circle gets and gives something of its truth and value to me, and vice versa. 

Also necessary for a successful relationship between us is that we both know the difference between cooperating and compromising/sacrificing. I have succeeded in my life because I learned, grew and matured with the experiences, trainings and support I have had with the circles of men for over 38 years of proactive participation. I began this relationship when I was 38; I am now 75+.

It works because I work it!

I have progressively learned to identify and honor the priorities of my life. This allows me to cooperate with what the circle/wife wants and needs from me by choosing what I can give of myself that doesn’t compromise or sacrifice what is integral to the health and well-being of me.

I can be of service to chosen partners when I feel whole and come from a place of inner strength.

And on it goes down the road, sometimes with the wind and sometimes against the wind. 

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