my family on a mac

The Unwavering Love of Your Dog Can Enlighten You

Scrambles was not a very happy dog. He was abandoned in a small Texas town until he was scooped up by my (then 6) daughter. She carried this little bundle of grumpiness around for hours. Until it was time to go to bed. Then Scrambles had to be put outside so he could go back to his home.

We Adopt a Lost Dog

At about midnight, I looked outside, and Scrambles was still on the front porch curled up trying to stay warm. I let him back in the house and into our bed.

In a frightening moment about two weeks later, Scrambles was “playing” with my son and nearly took his face off with a growl and a nip.

“What the Fk, Scrambles?” we all yelled. He nearly went back to the farm on that one. I’m glad we gave him a few more chances.

Here are a few of the things Scrambles taught me about life, about being a single dad, about hope, and about finding the positive in my life so I could survive long enough to recover my happiness.

  • People (lovers, pets) are going to be grumpy from time to time (we love them anyway?)
  • We are here to love each other in all our foibles and follies
  • Pets love us unconditionally, but we don’t necessarily want that in a partner
  • How we love our pets, our interactions, words, and touches, inform how we are as partners with humans as well
  • Love impacts our lives in mysterious ways
  • Our ability to love deeply can illuminate our ability to live deeply and find happiness within ourselves
  • A pet or a relationship is not going to fix us (but it might lessen the pain)
  • Breakups (divorce, death) are hard, but they teach us valuable information about ourselves

How Do We Love More Deeply?

We don’t just want a partner or a companion. We want a life-changing love. We want to feel love from the depths of our toes to the tips of our fingers reaching out for touch. And, if we are committed to “the love of my life” type love, we’re going to have some hits and misses.

My first two marriages were both misses, in different ways.

  • Wife one: damaged, beautiful, artistic, with anger issues (dangerous and damaging to me)
  • Wife two: damaged, beautiful, artistic, with emotional issues (stoic and cold)
  • And along my journey to find love again, to REINVENT LOVE as I understood it.

I’m not a professional dater. I did not want the divorce it was thrust on me and my two kids by a woman who was insecure and self-absorbed. She’s still running that tape. I hope she heals at some point, so she doesn’t reincarnate as a slug. But, this is not about her. This is about my journey after her.

Right. So, if you’re here reading this, you’ve probably been following along for a bit. [Turns out 80% of my visitors are NEW and never visit a second page or give me a signal (other than a blip in Google Analytics) of their existence.] And if you’ve been following along, you know that my 2010 divorce nearly killed me, several times. I’ve resurrected so many times, I’m afraid I’m a vampire or a werewolf.

I learned so many important lessons along the way. Lessons about dating. About building a relationship. About honesty. About sex. About alcoholism. About avoidance. About insecure attachment. And, what I really learned was how to LOVE DEEPLY. And I’m going to attempt to give a summary of my BIG LOVE idea here.

  1. Commit to finding your next life-long partner
  2. Waste zero time on partners who exhibit inattention or red-flag behaviors
  3. Give 100% to the one you are with
  4. Do not settle for “nearly” or “good enough”
  5. When committed and in-flight do everything you can to evolve together, learn together, express kindness even in difficult times
  6. As the love heats up so does anxiety, fear, and dysfunction
  7. Lean into your partner, give them your vulnerability
  8. Learn skills to fight well, love well, and communicate with honesty
  9. Ask for what you want (and keep asking until you get it or blow up the party)
  10. Take emotional variability in stride (we all have levels of depression and mania)
  11. Be patient (both of you need to grow, expand, explore, and commit to the process)
  12. Rest together (naps are some of the most healing moments in my week)

Going Big or Going Home

I did not want a “meh” relationship after my divorce. I didn’t know what I wanted. But I knew it was not what my previous two marriages provided. I wanted honesty. I wanted a healthy partner. I wanted someone who has cultivated outside interests or creative pursuits. I wanted someone who was stable and comfortable in their own lives. And, ultimately, I wanted someone who was unafraid to choose me FOR LIFE.

I mean, that’s the goal. Who knows what the next 10 minutes will bring, much less the next 10 years. There are so many ups and downs in life. Money. Love. Health. Kids. Parents. Sex. What I’ve learned is to focus on what’s important.

  • Kindness at all times
  • An easy expression of love and lust and joy
  • Mind my own boundaries and aspirations

In my mind, I was looking to never experience divorce again. Of course, I’ve experienced 4 – 6 breakups since my divorce. Each of them had lessons to teach me. Today, I’m placing my heart with a woman who believes in me, believes in lifetime commitments, and believes in love as a guiding principle.

I’m a bit like Scrambles these days.

  • grumpy from time to time
  • mostly positive
  • always affectionate
  • adventurous even under stress
  • optimistic

I wish my kids had gotten more time with me and my bright side.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
Facebook  | Instagram | Pinterest |  @wholeparent

Related posts:

You can find all of my books on AMAZON.

Dating 2.0

Spread the love