Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Trust not Butterfly...

My hubby is fascinated by nature, he loves watching the discovery channel. You can imagine how that went down with a science phobic person like me, oil meeting water. Gradually though, I have opened up my arms to the animal kingdom and I have also become marvelled at the little things you can learn from careful observation. I recently have made a discovery about what love is based on such David Attenborough type adventures into the world of nature. Countless times the question has been asked 'how can I tell if I am love?' and there have been many answers most of which have lined the pockets of love deprived actors and musicians. For many the litmus test for being under the influence of this great phenomenon has always been the fluttering of internal butterflies when your beloved is around. Those who believe in this extraordinary method of detection say that you feel light headed and your heartbeats form the loudest and deepest bass line for love songs worldwide. It is a wonder then that love could be likened unto the life of a butterfly when the average life span of an adult butterfly is approximately one month and the smallest butterflies live only a week or so? Surely this tragically short lifetime shouldn't be used to speak about what drives many to make long term commitments. If these butterfly feelings are what are being relied upon to form a basis for life changing decision, then this could explain why modern marriages expire so quickly. Clearly marriages of old used 'swan feelings' as their indicator, as these graceful creatures mate for life.

Butterfly feelings are like hurricanes sweeping you high into the sky where you spend every second by your beloved's side...until that one fateful day. And that day comes to all, where your rose tinted Gucci sunglasses fall off and you realise that you are attached to the world's worst chewing gum eater! There comes a point in every relationship when those butterfly feelings take flight and what you're left with is nothing that can inspire the shakespeare spirit that once consumed your beloved. Though the words 'I love you' are said, those butterfly feelings have crash landed and couples are stuck on the desert island that is their marriage, without a paddle and boat to get to the mainland. So, where did all the 'love' go? Now that you are safely landed in reality airport, summer wardrobe firmly packed away now what do you do?

Communicating our love for each other is an essential part of a loving relationship. It seems that in the first few moments of meeting our beloved we say what we mean and understand completely what they say. There are no misunderstanding that can't be sorted with a shower of 'but you know I love you so much', a lavish compliment or a Shakespearean love note. Somehow this magical togetherness of thought and speech slowly where love is felt goes away and an eruption of arguments and disagreements begin. Is it that your beloved has been traded in the middle of the night by an evil twin or are their true colours really shining through? Truth is...it's neither. You are simply speaking different languages and neither of you are trying hard enough to take the time out to translate.

One of favourite sitcoms is 'My Wife and Kids' and if you haven't watched it, you need to break out of your Eastenders and re runs of Sunset Beach routine! My most treasured episode is when Michael (husband and father) was zoned out watching a basketball game and Janet (his wife) came to make a request. Michael looked up from his reclining chair at his adoring wife, saw her mouth moving but heard only Japanese. He recognised the person in front of him but he couldn't understand a word of what she was saying, even though in reality she was speaking English. For fear that he would be verbally assaulted for not paying attention, he nodded in agreement. The rest of the episode is a collection of hilarious events that happened simply because Michael hadn't listened. It's a similar situation to when I go to the hairdressers and I explain my desired style with a pictorial reference but end up looking like an 8yr old flower girl. Quite clearly I was not speaking the hairdresser's lingo. Why is it that marriages, friendships and relationships with hairdressers that start out with such great flutters can end up swimming in confusion? I could be screaming I love you by spending all my credit crunch cash on you but you might not interpret this as love. Why is that you can do all that you know how to do to show someone that you love them yet they are convinced that you do not?

There are 6,900 living languages in this world, spread over just seven continents on this semi-green earth there are only five universal love languages. Thankfully, none of these languages can be attributed to our dear friend the butterfly. These languages do not depend on internal feelings and aren't affected by external circumstances. Everyone has a way in which they communicate and receive love. Usually the way you communicate love most frequently, is the way you best receive it. These love languages consist of Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service, Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation. I initially concluded that I must speak and receive all five!! After closer evaluation I have discovered that I have a primary love language. If my love language is absent from any marriage or relationship I have, it dies as quickly as a slug covered in salt.

The wisdom of Great Grandma Anita who has been married for 81 years said 'couples these days don't last long because they don't take enough time for each other.' Married in 1928 she currently holds the record for the longest marriage in Uk with her husband Frank. Time is indeed such an expensive commodity. It's that extra shift or another opportunity to force the hand of your boss towards a hefty pay rise. It is essential that we take time to notice our beloveds' responses to our actions. Do they seem less of a green goblin after spending an evening chatting about nothing? Then they are probably a native 'Quality Time' love language speaker. Are they much more responsive after you have inflated their ego with plenty of compliments? That will be a citizen of 'words of affirmation' kingdom. Become the radar for flutters in your home so that the next time you realise you're running on empty, do the things that send the butterflies into flight. Do your best to stay forever newlywed.

NB: For more information on The Five Love Languages, please visit www.fivelovelanguages.com

Friday, 10 April 2009

15,811,200 seconds of marriage....

Last Saturday my hubby had been officially married for 15,811,200 seconds which amounts to the equivalent of 263,520 minutes or 4392 hours or 183 days or 26 weeks or more simply 6 months. (Yes I am that petty, lol). We are half way through the momentous 1 year and I am glad to say that my wedding ring has not been flung out the window of our speedy Citroen C1. Don't get me wrong, we have had some tense moments and have had to deal with circumstances that have altered our lives in the last 26 weeks BUT we are still going strong.

Recently, we have been entertained by other married couples who made what we had dealt with look like a slow motion stroll through Victoria Park. Sometimes in life, our emotions manage to create the wonderful illusion that we are the only one suffering. We send out invitations for our extravagant pity party and punish all those who don't attend. My hubby and I were really humbled when we heard their stories and admired their strength. I greatly admired the wives as I could not even try to understand how they had managed to keep their cool. How had they resisted sending out electronic pity party invitations? I was truly in awe. They demonstrated the kind of strength that I had only seen in wives of old.

In the class of wives, I feel that my mother's generation are at the top the game. They were and still are able to deal with the most difficult situations. Their emotions had structures of steel that refused to bend or break to the winds of life. They have spines made of titanium that refused to be corroded by the acidity of life. Wives of old absorbed every single pain and were literally the rock of their families. It somehow didn't seem to matter if their husbands had begun extracurricular activities with their secretary; they continued to hold the home together. They didn't seem to throw tantrums over matters like who should switch off the light or who was the last one to load the washing machine. Through adultery, domestic violence, money and poverty, these wives remained like Rosa Parks; unmoved.

Aside from this great emotional strength, old school wives were adaptable and resourceful. When their little princes needed a new pair of shoes, their older brothers' rejects got a lick of shoe polish and some new laces. Clarks couldn't even compare to this level of workmanship. When the little gems needed their hair done, old school wives become hairdressers. It didn't matter if you had about 5 different types of extension on your head – (curly, crimped and crisp) your highly unique hair do was complete! These wives always did their best with what they had and worked hard to get what they had. An old school wife didn't mind waking up at 4am to start work at 5am, cleaning the offices of oxford schooled professionals.

Wives of old had aspirations and dreams, far beyond their one bedroom flat. True they may not have had the opportunity to go the university, but they had carefully mapped out the destiny for each of their doctors, I mean children. There was never a shift too long or a bank account too empty that would deter them from reaching that goal. Educating their children was of extreme importance, they may not have always understood what simultaneous equations were but God their princess, if they didn't score 100% in the end of year exam.

Old school wives created masterpieces from their tiny kitchens; they could recreate any food on the high street or fast food restaurant. After their child has thrown an EST (Embarrassing Supermarket Tantrum), they would toss a few pounds of cooked oxo induced mince meat sandwiched between slices of Kingsmill to create their version of The Big Mac. Wives of those times provided meals for their husbands irrespective of the arguments they had, even though they probably wanted to christen them with the hot stew they just made. Some of us mod wives serve up a series of finger clicks and neck bends for starters, a healthy helping of the silent treatment for main course and for desert 'I have a headache'.
Wives of old had profound respect for their husbands, irrespective of how low or high his position was in society, what car he drove or his income. Their respect came with an amazing submissive nature. I have heard of husbands that I have come home to declare that they are moving countries, changing careers and religions. And even in the 'unlikely' event that their husbands ideas were out of this universe, wives of old seemed to have a manual on how to change that mans mind. Millions of children used and abused this principle: to get money from dad go to mum.
Sometimes, when I have come out of one of my unreasonable tantrums (for which I believe my husband drinks kegs of patience), I compare my actions with those of the old school wives and wonder if I will ever get there. Will I ever get to the point where a 'you said, I meant' situation won't make me boil over with 'if I wasn't a Christian what I do to you' anger? Truth is, only time will tell. These women were not born as wives but as baby girls. Time and bitterness of life have made them the old school wives they are today. There are some that are still learning, that still refuse to understand the basics of wifedom. We the mod wives need to make it our responsibility to listen, look and learn. I crave the kind of titanium spines these women had; the ability to not only find peace but also to maintain it in the middle of chaos. I believe that this economic crisis is crying out for women who will not be moved by the rates, redundancies or repossessions. Sure, I have only been married for 15 million seconds (and counting) but with each second that goes by I am working towards demonstrating the kind of strength that the old school wives did, who is with me?