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Kam is a soon-to-be police commander living a happily married life in Maryland with his college sweetheart and wife of twenty-one years. They’ve got two teenage sons, and even though he’s seen the absolute worst in human relationships during his long career, Kam is careful about policing the lines between expectations, compromise, and commitment in his own relationship. ♥
The average individual gets his ideas about relationships from his parents, but I would have to say that probably one third of my ideas about relationships came from watching my mother interact with my stepfather. My biological parents were separated when I was about five, so it was a long time — probably until I was eleven or twelve — before I saw her interact with another man. My stepfather, he was there, but I don’t recall seeing them interact all that much.
My mother worked a lot during the day and my stepfather worked nights, so I didn’t see them much together until I was older. I don’t know that they interacted like typical couples in love would interact. Although, I’m certain that my stepfather really loved my mother and vice versa; they just didn’t have a real huggy kind of relationship. It was more pedestrian — getting things done, making sure we had what we needed, doing what needed doing around the house and that type of thing. It wasn’t what you’d call a great model for seeing how people should treat each other in a relationship.
It wasn’t until I started watching television that I began to understand how things should go. Believe it or not, lots of my ideas came from modern day TV. Shows such as Happy Days – I’m almost embarrassed to say it – but, you know, I was watching couples interacting. Then I’m watching the Cosby show, seeing how the Huxtables interacted and how they went through life.
From my perspective, only fifty percent of what I saw on TV was even possible in a real relationship. Let me explain this: it showed how a husband should treat a wife, how parents should treat their kids, like that, but when you watch those shows, you never really see the background of how daily life gets done. The cooking, cleaning, planning and problem solving, you never really see how that works out. Come to think about it, I never really saw that with my parents either. So when I got married, none of it was what I expected. Some things seemed to be missing when we got together.
There were these gaps between my expectations and the reality, you know, and I’m still trying to fill them in in some instances. In others, I guess they’ll never be filled in. It’s a constant work in progress — trying to interact with my kids, trying to interact with my wife, talking things through, and figuring it out. Because of our misconceptions about relationships and how they should be carried out, I’m constantly trying to work through and find a resolve, but ultimately, some of those things will never be resolved.
I’ll give you an example: when I first married my wife, it was a long time in coming for me to figure out the ways in which she was so different from me. I realized it was because of how we were raised. Despite our having spent so much time together before getting married, it wasn’t until we got into the house with each other that I saw the difference, which was this: my mother worked Monday through Thursday from 6:30 in the evening to 3:30 in the afternoon, so she was always there in the afternoons when I got home. She’d tell me, You need to do this, this, and this, period. And every Saturday morning before I could watch cartoons, my mother had a list of things for me to do beforehand. My wife’s story is very different.
My wife’s mother worked in the evenings from 3:30 in the afternoon until 1 o’clock at night, which meant she was never home. So, for a large portion of her life, my wife’s sister essentially raised her. Their mom would usually be sleeping during the day. Of course, when we got together, I realized that my wife and I were both stuck in those modes of what we were used to. It really showed up when we started having kids; we both wanted to raise them the way we’d been raised. She was all in for relaxed Saturday mornings where I wanted more structure. It’s still a work in progress, and that’s hard to overcome, going into a relationship with those expectations that are strong for both of you.
When it comes down to being in a relationship, though, those things are minor. They’re major on the surface, but not when it comes down to life. The longer you stay married, the closer you become, but you also grow apart, too, if you’re not careful. When you’re first married, you tend to spend every waking moment together, but as your relationship grows, and love grows, you realize you don’t have to be up under that person twenty-four seven. My wife, she has her girlfriends and the book club and groups like that, and I have time with my guy friends, too. There really isn’t any need to spend so much time together. But when we do spend time together, raising kids together, it’s great. It’s just a matter of finding a balance to it all.
I’ve never really given anybody advice on relationships, but I’d have to say that they’re really about compromise. You can’t always have things the way you want. And, sometimes, it means giving that person what they want, plain and simple. It’s not about meeting in the middle all the time. People think that’s what compromise is, but they don’t realize they might not get what they want today, tomorrow, or next month even though there’s a chance they’ll eventually get satisfaction. That’s what relationships are about.
When you get into a serious relationship, you’re really with that person because you like being around them and you like doing things for them. It might not always be evident why you’re with that person, but really that’s why so many relationships occur: because you enjoy making that person happy, you enjoy doing for that person, you enjoy bringing that person joy. You know, if you’re always looking to fulfill your own needs, how can you make someone else happy?
I’m trying to have conversations with my sons and right now my oldest is having some trouble with dating. I’m trying to tell him, You know, sometimes the girls you like don’t necessarily like you. I’m trying to teach him more so than anything is that you show interest in people who show interest in you. That’s the one thing he can’t get. I tell him, There’s somebody out there showing interest in you who you’re not paying attention to and that’s the person you should be showing interest in.
One thing I see in my work as a police officer, regarding relationships, is that people don’t know what’s bad for them. It’s like the more they know something is bad for them, they more they tend to gravitate toward it. And that’s the one thing I can’t quite understand. I have seen people involved in the worst possible relationships that you could fathom. It’s not just the horrible ones where the guy does all sorts of terrible things to the woman – I’ve seen that stuff too – but I’m talking about the difficulty of leaving bad situations when people know they have alternatives.
There’s one of my officers who’s currently involved in a relationship that’s bad for him, and it’s jeopardizing his career because the woman is getting physical with him. As an officer, he can’t get physical with her, but I see this all the time: people just can’t see when relationships are bad for them. When it appears as if no good can come from a bad situation, chances are that’s accurate – relationships or nefarious activities, doesn’t matter.
I want to tell you this: after twenty-one years of marriage and raising kids and being together, it truly has been fulfilling and even with our challenges, I could not have asked for a better relationship with anyone. We have been able to accomplish so much together, and that’s a blessing. For the most part, we want the same things out of life — to love and to be loved, to raise a family together, travel, and spend special times with friends and family. Most importantly, my wife loves me despite my many faults. That in and of itself is amazing to me.
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