Monday, 19 August 2013
The Greatest Non Secret Of Them All
Some days are illuminating. Today's been one of them. A drive to Marlow, a bus to Henley, a pub lunch beside the Thames, before walking 8 miles back along the river to rendezvous with the car. Just a couple enjoying a day out. Like many other couples on any given day. Well yes, but also no. Joy and I aren't any other couple. We're us, and we've been doing this for 15 years now. I'm proud of that. About as proud of that as I am of anything. In a world where so many of us come and go from relationships I am going to celebrate the fact that we're working as hard today as we did from day one. Actually harder, because we're both so aware that to take each other for granted would be the most dumb ass, yet easiest mistake to make. For all our differences, and there's a truckload, there is a core of trust and resilience that everything else revolves around. We want this to work because we've invested so much in it, and because we've seen how damaging and traumatic divorce and separation can be for families. When Joy was a teacher couples would often come in, sit down and routinely explain how they were splitting up, whilst giving assurances that the children won't suffer. As statements go it borders on the delusional. Of course the children suffer. Always. And to just hand wave that away always seemed a real affront. That said, Joy and I would never stay together for the sake of the children. We're together because we've spent fifteen years building something awesome, and neither of us want to see that go up in flames. We know how we tick on so many levels, but we're also self aware and we know that you can't just keep recycling the same stuff. And we both want each other to grow. I want her to be everything she aspires to be; I want to give her the freedom and the support to do that. And neither of us want to stagnate, or become some stale old couple that just withers in a tired old marital decay, devoid of spark or energy. There's no secret to making relationships work. I don't think there ever was. It seems that we just have to step beyond ourselves and learn to speak the love language of the person we've chosen to walk with through this incredible thing called life. One tip I would like to share if you'll permit me, is that from a personal perspective I am at my least attractive when I am being selfish, when I cannot see beyond my own desires and wants. When I step beyond myself I'm just simply a better man, a more interesting man, a more responsive man. In an odd way it's just liberating. Look people, there's no secret to any of this. No magical formula or quick fix. Just time and investment and a bloody minded refusal to give in to the spirit of the times. I'm not going to walk away when things get hard, or if we stray into the mundane. I'm going to try and fix it, and make it right, and not pour a vintage wine down the drain. Joy and I work because Joy and I work at it. We confront the issues, confess our weak spots, then try to figure out how to make it better. That's the only recipe that works for us.