It’s been a long, hard week. I think I may have a bit of tummy bug which is a lovely way to end an already uncomfortable week. Besides the extra hours at work, irregular sleep patterns and sudden cold snap, I have been suffering from quite severe hormonal imbalances. To be fair, the man in my life has probably been suffering a lot more than me – he is on the receiving end of my irrational behavior. There have been a few confrontations, some cold shoulders, lots of eye-rolling and not to mention all the huffing and puffing. I can see he’s slightly bewildered by this, as most men usually are. For me, the problem with PMS is that I know I’m being irrational or border-line psychotic when I blast the hot tap in the kitchen while he is showering so it runs cold and I giggle with glee when he screams in shock, but I still can’t stop myself. But I’m really not an evil person. I promise… Hopefully a good night sleep will alleviate some of the symptoms. As my man said “I hope that tomorrow you wake up with an attitude adjustment.”
Category Archives: Love
“While you are away
My heart comes undone
In a ball of yarn
The devil collects it
With a grin
In a ball of yarn
He’ll never return it
So when you come back
We’ll have to make new love”
Long distance relationships are tricky. Sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder and sometimes out of sight is out of mind. It’s difficult to keep things in perspective when the majority of the relationship is spent apart. It’s in our nature to want what we can’t have, so I wonder if the more we’re apart the more we want that other person and think that perhaps this is the one. As if the gods are trying to keep us apart or it has been written in the stars. But maybe it just is what it is: a long-distance relationship. Two people trying to make the best of a bad situation. No star-crossed lovers, just spatially-challenged lovers.
There are three elements to the long-distance relationship. Firstly there are those days or sometimes weeks after you say goodbye where it feels like you have a hole in the shape of your lover inside you. These are the longest of days, full of emptiness, and everything reminds of the person you’re missing. And then there are the weeks or months when you count down the days to when you’ll be re-united. These days can be as wonderful as the days spent together – the romance of solitude can be very sweet. But there can be days, usually just before you’re going to see each other again, which are filled with doubt. I often experience these doubtful days where I start to question things. What if his feelings have changed? What if my feelings have changed? What if we’ve lost our connection? And then there is the time you are together again. The surreal and wonderful days that always feel new and exciting after the months of pining like an abandoned dog. These days make all the loneliness seem worthwhile. Being able to regard his features in all three dimensions. To smell his skin. To be held in his arms. To wake up next to each other. The things couples who live together probably take for granted are the things I treasure.
The relationship I’m in now has been a long-distance affair since day one. So far it has consisted of a series of planned holidays, spontaneous weekend getaways, some surprise visits, and lots of soppy phone calls. This might sound quite romantic to the majority of you who are settled into ‘normal’ and considerably more structured relationships. You look forward to dinner and a movie, lazy Sunday mornings at home and kissing each other goodnight. We look forward to getting lost in foreign cities, a text message that makes us smile and tearful goodbyes at the airport. You plan your lives around after-work drinks, grocery shopping and social obligations. Our plans usually include running for trains, cancelled flights, broken suitcases, beautiful hotels, some not-so-beautiful hotels and, undoubtably, adventure.
But this lack of structure means that it’s never boring. It’s never dull. We never take each other for granted. We appreciate every moment we have together. And our love is tested much more rigorously than most. Trust and communication become fundamental. I think I’d go mad if we didn’t have both. At some point in the future it would be rather nice to live in the same city and go on dates like ‘normal’ couples. But right now I’m enjoying the adventure. We get to prolong the magic you get in the beginning of a relationship. That fleeting feeling we all wish could stay with us forever. We are living in the moment, because the moments can be very far apart. The future is uncertain in any relationship – there are never any guarantees – and even more so for us long-distancers. Which is why I am embracing the unknown. I have no idea where we’ll be in the next few years or even months. I just hope that our love will carry on stretching itself across the globe, keeping our hearts connected. So whatever shape or form our relationship takes, lets hope that our love will go the distance. And I think that it will.
“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honour and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”
– Tom Robbins
I never thought I would be married at 25. I never thought I would be divorced at 28 either. I got married believing that this would be the man I would spend the rest of my life with, have children with and grow old with. At the time I thought I was marrying only for love, however in hindsight I realised that I married for many other reasons. Yes, we loved each other, but we also got married because it gave us a sense of security. We married because if we were going to have children it would be the ‘right’ environment to bring them up in. And because it seemed like the next logical step in our relationship. This is what society expected of us, so we got married.
And I honestly thought this is what I wanted, but strangely, and almost immediately after we got married, it just felt wrong. I remember so vividly sitting in bed only two weeks after we returned from our honeymoon, sobbing into my pillow, thinking that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life, but with no reasonable explanation why.
When I think about our wedding day I can’t seem to remember any of the important bits – the actual ceremony was like an out of body experience. It was a wonderful, happy day shared with my closest friends and family, but I felt strangely separate from everything and just went into auto-pilot to get through the day. The memory of exchanging our vows was a surreal blur. I don’t remember any of the details. I remember feeling almost completely numb, I remember the heel of my shoe sinking into the lawn, and I remember not feeling any connection to the man in front of me.
I tried for the next two years to make sense of this new dilemma I was facing and tried to make it work, but after two years of confusion, guilt, tears, awkward silences, arguments and deliberation I realised that in the depths of my heart I did not want to make this work. I couldn’t explain why, but I knew I was unhappy and I felt trapped. And most of all, my then husband deserved to be treated better than the way I was treating him. Splitting up with him was made even harder by the fact that he was a wonderful husband – loyal, strong, attractive, honest, trusting, considerate, hard-working, affectionate – all the qualities you could want in man, but just not right for me. Ultimately, he wanted the ‘two and a half kids and a white picket fence’ existence, and only by getting married did I discover that it wasn’t what I wanted.
And this is why now, when I’m at a wedding and I listen to my friends saying their vows, all I can think is ‘how on earth can you promise someone that, how can you promise forever?’
As much as, at that moment in time, you truly believe that you will be with this person for the rest of your life, there simply is no guarantee that you will.
I’m sure some of you are thinking that, “of course there’s no guarantee, but in the same way that some people have faith in god, an existence that can never be proven, we have to have faith in our marriage”.
So I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching recently and have realised there are many aspects of marriage that I struggle to understand.
Why can’t we make the commitment and have that faith without signing a contract and all sorts of legal documents? Doesn’t the fact that we feel it necessary to tie someone into a legal and binding agreement prove that we are scared of losing them? Aren’t we capable of devoting ourselves to our partner without all the paperwork?
Surely now that we are more pragmatic in today’s modern society, where the idealised nuclear family is becoming a rare phenomenon, we would favour a relationship that is open to change and has more flexible boundaries.
Also, marriage as we know it today was created by the church centuries ago, and is based on the kind of marriage that was not founded on love. Marriages then, were arranged according to the two families’ social status, their wealth, and their concerns of bloodlines and carrying on the family name. Love never came into the equation.
So now that most marriages, in western society at least, are not arranged, this antiquated institution is now obsolete. And that word right there; institution, is wherein lies the problem. No one really wants to live in an institution. It goes against human nature and our most natural instincts.
Occasionally you meet those inspiring couples who have been happily married for almost their entire lives, which is a rare and beautiful thing to see. But on the flipside the evidence is pretty damning when considering how many marriages end in divorce these days. As much as, when you’re saying your vows, you want to, and believe you’ll love and be with this person until death do you part, you simply cannot promise this to anyone.
Life happens, people change, evolve, fall out of love, fall in love, fall in love with someone else. This is just how we are, and instead of celebrating the insecurity of life we try desperately to lock ourselves into a relationship forever by getting married.
Perhaps I have become so jaded that I do not notice all the couples that are happily married or am I, admittedly, just disillusioned with the whole thing?
A friend of mine said recently that for a marriage to work you have to be with someone, not that you could love forever, but that you could live with forever. I think she’s probably right – we all know that the initial feeling of passionate love fades over time, and a long-lasting marriage is more about companionship than anything else. But why shouldn’t we be able to experience that feeling again? If the only thing keeping you in a relationship is the fact that there’s history, a joint bank account and you’ve learnt to tolerate each other’s bad habits, why not take that risk and seek a new relationship that fulfils and enriches you again.
Our love for someone is something beyond our control. As much as we try to control it and promise its existence until we die, we cannot. Love is a transient emotion; sometimes it lasts a few months, sometimes a few years and sometimes a lifetime, so why don’t our relationships last as long as our love does? I suppose casual relationships do end when there is no love left, as they rightly should, but once we’re married it’s suddenly expected that our love will automatically become everlasting. Of course it ebbs and flows as in any relationship, but once it’s dried up completely there’s no point waiting for it to come flooding back, because it probably wont.
However I do think marriage can work, but only when we are much older and much wiser. One needs to have experienced all of life’s joys and sorrows and be complete as a person before deciding to settle down. Otherwise if we are looking for someone to fill a gap, it will never work. Only you can be responsible for your own happiness and fulfilment, no one else.
I believe marriage as a state of mind, and marrying someone for nothing other than love is a beautiful thing, but marriage as an institution is deeply flawed and marrying for any other reason is futile. I believe in love.
I have a dilemma. The man who I am now ‘in a relationship with’ or perhaps more accurately, ‘mutually exclusive’ with is nearly 11 years older than me. The age gap is not the problem – he claims that 10 years is the perfect age gap between a woman and an older man. I’m not sure I agree entirely, but so far this has not presented any major complications.
The problem is that I don’t know what to call him. Well, between the two of us we have many soppy and slightly bizarre terms of endearments which would probably make you retch if I listed them here, but it is when I have to refer to him that I’m left desperately fumbling for an appropriate label.
Boyfriend sounds wrong as this conjures up images of lanky, socially inept, adolescent boys who buy you flowers from the petrol station and take you to Burger King for lunch, and he certainly is not like that, being the very grown up, sophisticated man that he is.
The other option is partner, which I absolutely can’t stand. How can you refer to someone, who you love and share your most intimate moments with, as your partner, a term which implies corporate relationships or a co-worker? Very unromantic.
So what am I left with? I thesaurused the word boyfriend and was offered the following alternatives: beau, confidant, suitor, flame, steady, darling, wooer, and even more bizarrely: hound, buff, nut, rooter, freak. Can you imagine introducing the man in your life to your boss at the office Christmas party using any of those terms? “Oh Mr Johnson, I’d like you to meet my rooter, Clive.”
Due to the logistics of our relationship at the moment – he lives in France and we have been doing the long-distance thing for a while – I have often been spared the awkwardness of having to introduce him at social gatherings. The occasions when I have referred to him in conversation I normally revert to using the term boyfriend as I refuse to use the word partner, but I just can’t imagine introducing him in person as my boyfriend.
It’s like that scene in Sex and the City when Carrie and Big are viewing that incredible apartment and the estate agent calls Big her husband by mistake:
Carrie: “He’s not my husband, he’s my boyfriend.”
Big: “Aren’t I a little old to be introduced as your boyfriend?”
Carrie: “Point taken, from now on you’ll be my man-friend.”
Big: “That sounds like a dog.”
Now I’ve always liked the term lover, but this unfortunately stirs up even more vivid images of steamy affairs, infidelity and lewdness. But why should it? He is someone that I love and that loves me, therefore he is my lover. I suppose, many, many years ago the only options were boyfriend or husband. You dated or courted someone and shortly after got married. A lover was usually someone you were having an adulterous affair with and most sexual relationships outside of marriage were talked about in hushed tones and regarded as taboo. This is where the term lover came about.
But these days there are so many grey areas and anomalies when it comes to modern relationships. Perhaps we need to come up with a new term for mature people in committed relationships that simply are not married.
I then told my flat mate about my dilemma. She is from Romania and rather annoyingly informed me that they have a word for that kind of relationship in Romania. The word is ‘iubit’ and it roughly translates as lover. So if I lived in Romania I would not have this problem. This further suggests that lover might be the right word. It’s just unfortunate that it has rather lewd connotations in this country.
I finally decided to ask my mother for some other alternatives, forgetting that she is not known for her tact. Without hesitation she answered saying “Oh, just call him your bitch.” Thanks Mom, but I think I’ll try lover and endure any disapproving looks I get.
And you are across all the seas
and my mind, floating, supple, drifts towards your shores
I wait until that time, sweetness, when you are nearer
Hands, arms, fingers around me, this love is a mystery
and we have no choice. It was decided before the moon and the stars
And when the space between is wide open, think of the sky
and that my heart is endlessly in yours.