Ladies, what is the scariest admission (for men) in the English language? Answer, "my best friend wears a dress." This may not sound horrifying to you, but for those words to willingly come out of the mouth of a red-blooded American male is a sign of advanced, hard-earned emotional maturity and a triumph over long-lasting playground trauma carried from when we were first teased about having a "girlfriend" in grade school. Funnily enough, relations between boys and girls don't start out so traumatic, in fact, most little boys have little friends who are girls, but it quickly changes, and by the time we are eight years old, girl friends are out. In truth, as little boys we barely interact with girls until we begin making our first clumsy forays into asking a girl for a dance as teenagers. And while girls begin to emotionally mature, we boys, by and large, lag emotionally behind. Deep down, we continue to be little Charlie Browns -- longing for love, but dreadfully afraid of being teased about our longing. As we get older this fear and teasing abates, but never fully disappears. Even as "adults" (to the extent we can be described as such), phrases such as "henpecked", "wrapped around her finger," and "the old ball and chain" are extensions of childhood teasing. Sometimes our male friends can even feel threatened that they are going to lose us. In fact, as my wedding day happily approached, one of my good friends proclaimed in all earnestness that he had "lost many a friend to marriage".
I am happy to report that the opposite is true, rather than losing friendship marriage has taught me true friendship. My wife is my best friend, (I can't believe I just said that). We are married business partners who spend nearly every waking hour with each other and have a blast.
Our mantra for romantic success is Love Like Kids, Act Like Adults. We have been blessed for the past nine years to have had a successful Off-Broadway play, Platanos Y Collard Greens, in the hectic world of theater. One of the most beautiful things theater has taught us is to rediscover our inner child. While in light of what I wrote previously, it may seem contrary for men who are already struggling to be adults to get in touch with that little boy who was afraid of being teased that he had a "girlfriend" (or for that matter, for women to get in touch with that little girl afraid of being teased that she had a "boyfriend"), what we have discovered is that you can get in touch with that inner child before fear set in, when all of us were free to love fully, without fear. As a result, my wife, Jamillah, and I have been accused of excessively abusing our daily quota of PDAs (public displays of affection) -- and we love it! Discovering the love language of children has blessed us with a love that is forever young.
I used to believe that the job of parents was to set a good example and teach their children, while that is still true, our 4-year-old daughter has shown us that it is likewise true that parents must learn from their children. One day our daughter finally realized that adults were too busy building fortresses around our hearts to fully appreciate her subtle lessons of love, and when I came home from the theater, she burst towards me in full sprint and leaped into my arms with Olympic agility while screaming with overwhelming joy "Daddy!" It was such an exuberant innocent display of love that I didn't know how to react. I simply didn't know how anyone could love so fully, completely and totally free of the fear of rejection without their heart bursting. Luckily, as she embraced me I caught a glimpse of Jamillah and my favorite wedding picture. I was singing to my bride (a surprise rendition of Taj Mahal's classic Blues love song "Queen Bee") and my wife's eyes overflowed with tears of joy. At that moment, I realized that we were loving like kids, completely open, without fear of rejection of each other and without fear of embarrassment before others. Given my lack of singing ability, I could have been overwhelmed by fear of embarrassment, but my love for my wife made my fear insignificant. I discovered that Lao Tzu is right: "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."
So here's to courage, the courage to overcome fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection and any and all fear of any kind that holds us back from loving like kids.
Celebrate your triumph over fear; let your inner child out to play with the one you love by bringing the Screaming Greeting into your love life.
When a small child is happy to see you walk through the door, you don't have to guess about it, the joy comes out as their little voices rise and they run and hug you with wild enthusiasm. Now take a look at us adults; have you ever greeted the one you love without any greeting at all or -- worse yet -- a grumpy greeting, each of you distracted by the mail, the work day, the television, the phone or a thousand and one other things? Well -- stop it! That is merely a façade, another way of imprisoning our love. Tonight when you see the one you love, greet them with the enthusiasm that your love deserves: run up, hug them and shout out your love for them. It will shake off the blues and bring you closer, you will find yourself cheered up and longing for them even more.
For more information about Perfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living and Loving Together, check out David and Jamillah's website www.acoupleoflambs.com. David and Jamillah would like to thank their daughter Kaira, for teaching them the Screaming Greeting and the joy it has brought to their lives.