Courting the Souls of the Ones You Love: the “Platinum Rule of Loving”

I was forty-something and still longing to be loved the way I needed to be. She had the same longing. Misguided like a missile missing its target, I practiced the “Golden Rule” – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So, I tried to send her love the way I wanted to be shown – showing up with flowers, buying odd little gifts from Australia or New Zealand where I spoke for years.

She would sigh and set the flowers in a vase in the curio or on the mantle, and I couldn’t understand where her enthusiasm for such gifts had gone.

Then one day, quite by accident, with no conscious thought to it, I took the rough draft of my third book into her office and said, “I’d like for you to read this and tell me what you think.”

She burst into tears and sobbed for several minutes. I’m good with tears, but I wanted to understand what the hell was going on. Slowly she stopped crying.

“Would you tell me why this touched you so deeply?” I asked.

“This is the first time you have asked me to read your work. You usually send it to Robert or Bill first. Thank you so much for loving me so respectfully.”

“Damn!” I said. “I didn’t know you really would enjoy the books about men. I highly respect your intelligence and would always value your input on my work.”

The next day I came home from work and found she had bought me several little gifts that touched me so deeply I broke down and sobbed.

You see I stumbled on to the “Platinum Rule of Love” – Do unto others the way they have been longing for probably their whole lives. In other words, send the people you love – partners, parents, children, husbands and wives – the way they, not you, the way they can feel loved. If you don’t know how they want to be loved, here’s an idea, ask them.

Last night you looked at me

So lovingly I had to turn away.

A friend said to me

There are two ways to love

Face-to-face, eye-to-eye,

Skin-to-skin

And in the other way

We give love at a distance

And hope they pick up the clues.

Yesterday I brought you a

Dozen red roses and each

One was a clue and a promise

Some day I would learn to

Love the open way of the flower.

Poem by John Lee

Conference Feb 2020john-lee-courting-womans-soul

 

Courting a Woman’s Soul

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly

By the time I met my friend who became my wife for 16 years, I had failed so many times in my youthful attempts to love and be loved.

Every book I’ve written in my 35-year career emanates out of my old failures. Courting a Woman’s Soul is no different.

By the time a man is, say 35, he knows, even if he can’t say it, that the things he has been taught, told, saw, and heard from his peers, Playboys, and yes, even his parents, do not work in life or love.

Like most “straight” young men, I was only seeing, no – worshiping, the bodies of the women I slept with or wanted to sleep with. I was un-tutored and un-emotionally intelligent.

By my 40s, thanks to about a million hours of therapy, recovery and men’s work, I finally was yearning to see something eternal – for a glimpse of a woman’s soul, bare of society’s makeup and my upbringing. I wanted to see the beauty that time and knowing enhances. Now don’t get me wrong – I can still enter the slip stream of my own latent narcissism and regress back to adolescence from time to time.

Here are just a few lines from Courting a Woman’s Soul about the moment I stopped being a naïve, irresponsible boy:

We are not going to be lovers, are we, Isabella asked timidly.

No, Isabella. You deserve the kind of love I can’t give you… If we made love, I would be one more pathetic jerk included on the list of men who have hurt you. I have hurt enough women in my life.

Why had it taken me nearly four decades to realize the difference between lust and love?

Lust takes everything and gives nothing; love gives everything and takes so little.

At first when I was working on “Courting” I didn’t have a title. I asked my wife (my ex-wife and still best friend) why she picked me to love and marry. Without a moment’s hesitation she said, “That easy. You’re the only man who ever courted my soul.”

I hope you can join me Feb. 29th at “Recovering Our Power” A conference for women inspired by the dedication of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to make women’s lives matter presented by Creative Changes Conferences being held at the Annenberg Health Science Building in Rancho Mirage, CA.

John Lee Anger (4)