I think all our lives our parents have reminded us that part of “success” meant finding the one and settling down, and with the help (or not help) of relatives, we’ve heard a million renditions of what constitutes as “the one” even though often times, neither our parents nor relatives have really reached their own relationship idealisms, or more so, their idealisms do not match the standards of our new generation.
Because many of us were raised on relationship expectations that put us into boxes as “man and woman,” and as “dictating and submissive.”
And despite us running as far from it as we can, it still takes us a lifetime to shake off the examples we’ve seen in marriage and relationships.
Causing us to perhaps wonder if what we are asking for is too much, too unrealistic, and too rare.
Although I don’t find “marriage and relationships” as a vital definition of “success,” I acknowledge it as a real struggle for our modern day individuals.
Because we’re listening to a generation who we look up to for wisdom, but whose lives have been centered on survival, giving little time for introspective reflection. And this is okay, because it is our time to bring our standard of living to the next level with what the previous generation has provided us--on all levels; emotional, intellectual, career, and living.
I thank my mother, for helping me realize this generation gap on what makes a happy healthy relationship, when she realized her knowledge could only go so far, and that she had yet to experience the love she dreamed of. Knowing her alpha-female daughter would never fit her only known method of making her marriage last all these years, she stopped feeding me with “being a good, quiet, obedient, Hmong wife” and let go of my hand to venture on that journey myself, to discover the best love I could find, as myself, and to come back and teach her what I’ve learned.
I think sometimes we settle because we don’t know what’s out there--because we fear that unknown. And if I could change that for just one person, I am willing to continue speaking healthy love into existence into the minds of others. Particularly the youth, the vulnerable, the lost, and the broken.
We can think of at least one person in our lives, who is in a relationship but deserves so much more, or we can think of a time when we allowed ourselves to be mistreated by a person we didn’t belong with.
As someone who at one point in her life, couldn’t even imagine, let alone, know what a healthy love would look like, I hope to paint that picture for you today and let you know that it is closer than you think, that it lies in the love you have for yourself, the standards you raise, and the commitment you have to your wellbeing. And most of all, the knowledge that you are still whole and worthy, and successful, with or without the status of a relationship.
And that if and when you choose to commit to a relationship, that it can look, feel, and exist in the way you dreamed.
Healthy love will look many different ways for every individual. Because the healthy love that will find you, will be one fit for you, your needs, and will have your best interest in mind.
Healthy love will be mature enough to acknowledge the things we don’t see on paper--the mental health we struggle with, the narrative we were born with, and will have the courage to say, that these are your cards you were dealt with, and here are mine, and will work together to compensate for one another to create a deck that helps each other where the other falls short.
Healthy love is not a daily 50/50 give and take. Healthy love is that some days I’m 30/70 and some days you’re 60/40. It means, pulling what we each can for the day, to keep the team afloat. Sometimes you’re the one having a bad day, and sometimes it’s your partner. And in the end, it should always feel 50/50 because you’re always meeting each other’s needs and having your needs met.
Healthy love is ease and clarity. That even though there are tough moments, this person has brought more ease, clarity, and joy in your life, than hardship and loneliness. That friends and family can vouch for this, and that you, yourself, know and don’t have to question.
Healthy love isn’t butterflies, it is stability. It is nurturing, it is helping you battle your demons; your flaws--to embrace them and work through them as a part of you but not all of you. It is mirroring your good, and your bad, to accept who you are and to work towards who you want to be. It is creating a strong foundation in your life, that allows you to be an even better person than you were alone.
Healthy love, is knowing that love is a decision both parties need to make in every moment of each day. It is knowing that I may not accept or appreciate your actions, tone, or behavior in this moment, but that I will take the space and patience to work through this because I love you and I love us. It is saying sorry, thank you, and I love you all at once. It is stepping back from the heat, so we can stride forward together. It is understanding that we both always want the same: to be happy, to be loved, to be understood, and that the problem is always miscommunication because of misperception and thus being hurt by misunderstanding. In turn, the solution is simply communication. It is being patient, compassionate, empathetic, and forgiving.
Healthy love, is being vulnerable, honest, trusting, and being able to respect one another in front or behind each other, no matter what gender, social status, etc. It is not intimidated by goals and dreams, by individuality, and responsibilities. It is guarded by having the best interest of both parties.
And although these qualities seem unreal, I only know of them because I have lived them, and I have learned them. I came from a very broken place and never thought I’d love a “Hmong man” again. But truth is, I just had a bad experience with the wrong Hmong man person. And all these things, are what I learned from the right Hmong man person, meant for me.
I say person, because I want to give a chance for our Hmong men to rise, to acknowledge their brothers for the good, and to extend a hand to help on what still remains hurtful.
Don’t let a stigma stop you from raising your standards and believing in them. Don’t let old traditions and cultural beliefs stop you from finding and committing to what is right and best for you and your highest, most authentic self.
Healthy love, whether it’s self-love, romantic love, familial love, will always be the best and happiest love.