what-can-she-be_architect_judith-edelman-2If you read this blog in November, scan the beginning and hop down to the 8th paragraph which references being told that girls can’t be architects. In this post Valentine week, savor the love and be the architect of your relationships.

An October 2014 New York Times headline read: Judith Edelman, Architect, 91, Is Dead; Firebrand in a Male-Dominated Field

Firebrand in a male-dominated field. Where was Judith in 1960? When I was in junior high I took several art courses–figure drawing, history of art, and architecture. I enjoyed all three; Mr. Reeves was a serious and passionate art teacher.

When he showed drawings for Roman buildings and compared them with current architectural drawings, I was hooked. I loved the lines that became a symbolic dictionary of meanings. “See here, double line is a window; this arc shows the door opens this way.” I was thrilled when he announced our final project–build a model from our house drawings.

It was exhilarating to transform the two-dimensional drawings from paper to that ¼” = 1’ scale model. I collected scraps of balsa wood, sandpaper, and card stock from the art room floor. I spent hours each afternoon after school working. Glue, toothpicks, tiny pebbles from the road in front of our house littered the ping-pong table that became my workspace. The final product was pristine, perfectly to scale, and better than a dollhouse. My house was praised in class by my teacher and my peers. I felt a rush of pride and accomplishment.

I ventured to tell my teacher I thought I’d like to be an architect. He nodded seriously and looked at me through wire-rimmed glasses. “You’d be good at it.”

I could hardly wait to tell my parents my career plan. I had never had one before. “Mom, I think I’m going to be an architect when I grow up.”

Were we in the kitchen? Dining room? Was she ironing? Chopping vegetables for dinner? Don’t remember. Where doesn’t matter. What she said was far more impactful. For her reply pulled any semblance of balance/floor/rug out from under me.

“Girls can’t be architects.”

And because I was a child of the 50s and would not come of age until the freedom of the Age of Aquarius in the late 70s, I nodded my head. “Oh” and the dream fizzled and slid away to a yet undiscovered part of me. I wonder how it worked for Judith Edelman.

My architectural dream got tucked away until I began relationship counseling with young couples, families, and retreads (couples like my second husband and me who had been on the relationship road before). Perhaps because I allowed my one architectural dream to die, I became vehement about being a relationship architect.

In my second marriage, my husband and I adopted some slogans to keep us both from repeating mistakes of past relationships or carrying old baggage from our family of origin.

“We are the architects of our relationship; we are not copying the blueprint of another.” And “We can take what we like from our families of origin and leave the rest.”

Granted these slogans are not original, but they work for us. Reviewing the blueprints of past relationships showed the flaws. Broken windows (broken promises), ceilings (expectations) too high or too low. I use this in a humorous way in the story, “The Heel,” and seriously in “Our Anniversary” in Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. With our blueprint we have crafted a marriage on the foundation of what we both needed and wanted. With renovations every year, we have built a beautiful, solid marriage now going into its 26th year. Try it. It works.