GRAB(ook) Club: Measure of Love

by Kathy on June 13, 2013 · 18 comments

in Blog Hops, Books, Communication, Family, Friends, GRAB(ook) Club, Marriage, Relationships

Measure-Of-Love-Final-Cover-BlogWelcome to my first post as part of Melissa Ford’s new Gonna Read it Anyway Book Club, a.k.a. the GRAB(ook) Club! One of the things I love about Mel’s latest brain-child is the relatively simple format. Though I really enjoyed my past experiences participating in online book clubs and book tours, they can be very time-consuming. With the GRAB(ook) Club we read the book selection of the month, in this case Mel’s own sequel to her first novel (Life from Scratch), called Measure of Love, and then pose a question for discussion on our blogs. After that we hop around to the other participating blogs and comment on their questions. Please feel free to answer my question below, even if you haven’t read the book (which I thought was wonderful and highly recommend).

I love how Mel tackles the reality of complicated relationships in adulthood: from marriage to friendships, as well as in-laws and acquaintances in Measure of Love. I found reading this book as a late-thirtysomething mom, who has been married for almost 13 years, that so many of the story lines resonate with me. In almost every instance I was able to call to mind someone I know, whether it be a loved one or more of an acquaintance who has experienced something similar. Not to mention the many situations that hit really close to home, because some version has happened with me and my family or friends over the years. I also appreciate what seemed to be the central theme of how communication (and lack there of) impacts relationships.

Two of my favorite quotes from Measure of Love are this:

“What I didn’t realize in all my convictions that relationships are always doomed to unravel or be peppered with misunderstandings is that they can also be rebuilt strong and with greater comprehension of the other person.”

and this:

“But even having the benefit of retrospect, I would meddle all over again, just in a better, more open-minded, for-the-right-reasons way. Everything I did, I did out of love. Because I care. Because people who care get involved.”

The older I get the more I understand that not all relationships last and that’s okay. Some connections with friends and even family members are bound to ebb and flow, at times because we just grow a part and in other cases because of a conflict that occurred or due to miscommunication. That said, I believe that some relationships are worth fighting for, because as Mel points out “they can be rebuilt strong and with greater comprehension of the other person.” It is truly awesome when that happens.

I also think that sometimes we need to walk away from toxic people in our lives and stop trying to make those relationships work, especially when it becomes obvious that the other parties don’t care enough to try to resolve the differences that are driving us apart. I realize that there are relationships we don’t really have the choice to walk away from and in those instances we need to do the best we can to get along and be civil with each other, while not spending too much time and energy worrying about the depth or shallowness of our connection.

How do you determine whether a relationship that is in jeopardy is worth working to try to save? How do you measure the risks versus rewards of attempting to repair/rebuild such a relationship? 

After you answer my question, please click over to read the rest of the book club questions for Measure of Love.  You can get your own copy of Measure of Love by Melissa Ford at bookstores including Amazon.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 a June 13, 2013 at 8:29 am

For me, it’s a sort of mathematical equation. Add up all the good qualities. Subtract all the hurts, slights, and betrayals. Factor in the type of relationship and what a break would mean. Divide by the effort it will cost me to maintain the relationship.

However, that’s an active effort, usually brought on by some sort of conflict. Most of my relationships just tend to drift, because no one is making an effort to keep it on track.
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2 Kathy June 13, 2013 at 11:08 am

Thank you for your comment a! l appreciate your mathematical equation. Though I haven’t really thought about it quite that way before, I often do look at the pros and cons of trying to maintain and/or repair/rebuild a broken or fading relationship. It is interesting to reflect on why some of our relationships don’t work out and I agree that if it is because of a specific incident or conflict is very different than when we drift apart because of lack of effort to stay on track, as you say.
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3 anexpatinuk June 13, 2013 at 10:16 am

It clearly depends on the relationship and if it is family or friendship that’s sliding. If it’s close family that you are going to have to meet/confront then I think I would try and work it out as much as I could, if possible, at least come to an agreement to disagree. I rarely have had fights with friends but tend more to let is silently slip away, and then I think that maybe it wasn’t true friendship in the end, or we gave each other the time we needed somehow.
In the end, I think I would try and measure it by how much it would give me to keep this friend vs how much energy it takes to keep it up.
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4 Kathy June 13, 2013 at 11:16 am

I agree that the connection (whether it is family or friendship) is a huge factor. When the conflict is with a family member, it does makes things more difficult, as in most cases we have to find a way to make it work (at least on the surface) for the good of our other family members.

As for friends, I also think that those we really care about and have a strong connection with we can usually maintain the relationship long term, even when we have periods where we don’t spend as much time together. I am grateful for the people in my life who I am able to “pick up where we left off,” without the pressure of feeling bad about how long it has been since we were last together.

Thank you for your comment anexpatinuk!
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5 Lori Lavender Luz June 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Nodding my head to this: “sometimes we need to walk away from toxic people.” Yes, I’ve had to do that (and maybe in the past I’ve even been the toxic person walked away from).

Wow, you ask such a terrific question. I think at one time I would have tried to quantify the essence of the relationship in an effort to measure the pros and cons of staying in it. Nowadays, though, I’ve come to trust more my inner knowing. From a place of stillness, I often simply know what to do — without having to know the whys around it. It’s a lot simpler way, but it takes a immense trust in mySelf to do it this way.
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6 Kathy June 13, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Thank you Lori! I love that you have come to a place in your life where you know yourself well enough to trust your intuition about relationships. I hope to get there someday, but still overanalyze too much in most cases for me to be able to do that yet.

Also, interesting that you and April both commented on the fact that people in your past may have considered you toxic and walked away for that reason. I don’t think I have thought about that before. I certainly hope that isn’t the case, but appreciate that my personality does not mesh with everyone I meet and it is possible.

So much to chew on from reading Measure of Love and participating in this GRAB(ook) Club discussion!
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7 Alicia June 13, 2013 at 8:43 pm

So how do you do this Lori? How do you execute walking away from toxic people?
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8 April June 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I’ve had people that I’ve had to walk away from many times in my life because of the relationship being toxic. Like Lori said above, maybe I’ve been the toxic one without knowing it as well. When I’ve looked at relationships like this and had to choose whether or not to try and save it or walk away from it, I’ve looked at both the good points and the bad points and weighed those against each other. Sometimes the relationship was one that just needed a break and later when circumstances changed it was one I wanted to return to. Sometimes, it was good that the relationship ended and walking away from it was the best idea.
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9 Kathy June 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience and perspective on all of this April! I really appreciate what Lori shared and you echo about how it is possible that we have been the toxic ones without knowing it. Good food for thought… I too have had to walk away from toxic relationships, as well as having to learn to live with those people in my life I don’t really have the choice to walk away from. It isn’t easy, but I guess part of being an adult.

My mom talks about “feeding the feeders” and I try to remember that when I am frustrated with friends who don’t give me the care and attention I wish they would. She encourages me to focus on those in my life who clearly care about me and try not to get hung up on those who don’t as much. Also, when certain relationships don’t work out or we seem to drift a part, I try to remind myself that it takes two and I though I don’t consider myself to be toxic, I do take responsibility for the areas I may have fallen short in the friendship.
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10 Jane June 13, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I do agree that sometimes you have to walk away from a toxic relationship. Unfortunately, sometimes family is the worst. I had to walk away from a sister that just always caused too much pain. And I have found, through infertility, sometimes family just doesn’t get it. However, sometimes it is worth saving. It really is a fine line knowing what to do! I guess I always try to save something if I think there is a chance.
Jane recently posted..GRAB(ook) Club: Measure of LoveMy Profile


11 Kathy June 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Thank you for your comment Jane! Your words really resonate with me, both as they relate to family difficult relationships and how sometimes family (and close friends) just don’t get it. Those two issues have been some of the hardest for me to accept and deal with on our journey through secondary infertility and loss. Even though our situation is resolved now and we are no longer trying to expand our family, it saddens me to recognize the relationships that were lost or significantly weakened because people didn’t get it and didn’t seem to want to try to understand.

By the same token, there are definitely people and relationships that mean so much to me that would not be a part of my life if it weren’t for our journey with SIF and loss, including likely all of my blogging friends and those I met through a local support group. So I try to remind myself of that too, when I am mourning the relationships that use to be healthier or stronger.

I agree sometimes relationships that are in jeapordy are worth saving and it is a fine line. Also in most of the relationships that have ended or gotten weak in my life, I did try to make them work until I got to a point where it just didn’t seem worth the trouble any more, as the other person didn’t seem to care enough to do their part to communicate with me and try to come to a place of mutual understanding.
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12 Tara June 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm

For me, a big part of deciding if a relationship is worth saving is how they are treating me…when I realize I am being treated badly, it is easier to step away. It’s also a two way street, if I feel as tho I am putting in more effort to repair the relationship than the other then I really reevaluate if it’s worth saving.
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13 loribeth June 13, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Some great insights here, Kathy. : ) I found myself thinking about my university roommate. She lives in the west end of the city and I live in the eastern suburbs, but we have worked across the street from each other for 25+ years and used to have lunch together every couple of weeks & get caught up.

But in recent years, she has pulled away. I have not seen or spoken to her in at least two years and our last e-mail exchange was over a year ago, and I was always the one to initiate contact. I honestly don’t think it’s anything I’ve done to offend her. She has a highly stressful job, a teenaged son, and has had some personal stresses to deal with in recent years, including divorce and the deaths of her parents. I understand that. I do wonder if, subconsciously, I’m a reminder of a past she wants to forget — I’ve known her a long time (she’s been married several times and I’m probably one of the few people to have met all of her husbands…!) — perhaps I know too much?

I’ve tried to be sympathetic & give her whatever space she needs to deal with her problems — but I’ve sadly decided that friendship is a two-way street, and there are only so many unreturned phone calls I’m willing to make. The ball is in her court now. But I’m incredibly sad that a friendship of almost 35 years has come to this. 🙁
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14 Catwoman73 June 13, 2013 at 8:17 pm

For me, there are certain betrayals that are unforgivable. I think we all have a short mental list of indiscretions that we wouldn’t be able to recover from, and in those instances, the only option is to walk away.

Aside from those few unforgivable sins, I think most relationships are worth trying to salvage. We gravitate to certain people for a reason, and occasionally, we lose sight of why we got into the relationship in the first place, and things get off track. It may take some work to rediscover each other and set things right again, but I do believe it’s usually possible, and worth pursuing.

This is especially true of spousal relationships. It’s so easy to get off-track, and let petty annoyances turn into major issues when you spend as much time with someone as you do your spouse. But unless your spouse does something absolutely unforgivable, it is almost always worth trying to salvage. And everyone’s ‘absolutely unforgivable’ threshold is going to be different- we can only define that for ourselves. Little annoyances are present in any relationship, so walking away from a spouse because the ‘little things’ have been building and causing discord seems counterproductive. The grass probably won’t be greener somewhere else.

My hubs and I are a perfect example. We are sooooo different! We bicker a lot, because we have different thoughts on parenting, household chores, the definition of cleanliness, free time, etc, etc. Working through this stuff is NOT easy. At all. But we chose each other for a reason (many reasons, really), so we do the work. And we will for the rest of our lives, because the big stuff is there- loyalty, fidelity, support, friendship, unconditional acceptance, and lack of judgement.
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15 Alicia June 13, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Ooooh, I love this response! Yes, spousal relationships are definitely worth trying to salvage, I agree. There is so much invested and so many people involved. And I agree, we gravitated towards the other for particular reasons – the other fills a need that we just need to remind ourselves of.
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16 Alicia June 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I’ve had a couple girlfriends that I’ve chosen to “break up” with. Reaching the decision to end these friendships was not easy, and neither was the act of breaking up, haha.

I came to the decision to end two relationships in particular when I realized that I no longer wanted to hang out with these ladies. Anytime we got together, I felt anxious and afterwards, I never felt rejuvenated and always felt zapped of energy. The common trait with the two relationships was that I felt I was giving, giving, giving and the other was taking, taking, taking. In general, I consider myself to be a pretty nurturing person, so it makes sense to me to be the “giver” in a relationship – but enough is enough even for the most nurturing and we all need to feel like we’re getting something in return!

On another note, I am trying to come to terms with my “friend break up skills”. To sum it up, they suck. I don’t know how to eloquently end things … in one instance, I stopped returning calls, texts and FB messages, but this just resulted in a mass barrage of more phone calls, texts and FB messages from the friend … as well as her husband! It was so awkward. Looking back, I really should have just written a letter or had a direct conversation with her.

In the other instance, I’m still trying to figure out how to officially “break up” with the friend … I keep postponing visits and rarely return text messages … obviously falling into my old patterns. I’m ready to let go of the relationship but don’t know how to break the news……..

Great question!
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17 Mel June 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm

That’s a really really good question. I think, for me, it comes down to what I got from the relationship prior to the difficult part. Some relationships come with a great history, and it’s worth putting in the effort because you know how good it can be. Another relationship I walked away from because I realized that the “before” wasn’t that great. Not good enough to put out the effort to fix what is broken.


18 Katherine A June 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm

This is a really excellent question. I think my default mode in relationships is to make an effort to repair until usually some sort of “straw that broke the camel’s back” event occurs and then I’m done.

The most difficult friendship to let go of was a friend who I’d had a very, very close relationship with where the relationship had gotten onto shaky ground. We’d superficially made up, but there was some pretty deep emotional fall out from a tough situation. I’d been hoping for eight years to repair the damage. I’d run into her around town, we’d talk, the old closeness and warmth would appear to be there, she’d tell me to call or e-mail and we’d get together. Then I’d call or e-mail and be left hanging as she really didn’t respond.

After some soul-searching on my part, I realized that there were some things that she probably wanted from me emotionally related to a particular situation. I felt she hadn’t respected some of my boundaries at all in that particular instance. In short, I wasn’t able to give what it was that she wanted from me that might have allowed us to mend the friendship. The cost was just too high emotionally for me. Eventually, I realized I was okay with that, and the friendship was over. We’re still outwardly perfectly cordial, but the friendship is just a ghost of what it was, a residual.

I think to some extent, determining whether to salvage or fight for a relationship has to look at the emotional cost. If it’s too high, it probably can’t be saved.
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