Posts tagged Love
AN acquaintance recently discovered her long-time partner had gone back to smoking and she left him. For many people, that would seem extreme, given seven good years together. But for her it was part of an unspoken system in relationships that I have dubbed EDB: emotional deal breakers.
As with business contracts, it’s the non-negotiable clause. We all nurse a secret rule or set of rules that if broken are not forgivable, and breaking them is considered a breach of verbal or non-verbal contract.
She says it wasn’t the smoking — which she deplores. That would have distressed her because she is a reformed smoker and a health nut. She would also have been peeved about his lack of strength of character. But neither would have been deal breakers. She said it was trust.
He’d created such an elaborate facade around his behaviour that she was horrified. ‘‘If he could lie so effortlessly about such a stupid thing, then what else could or would he lie about?’’ she wondered. He’d rush to the shower after work, and soak his own shirts in the laundry at night. Which prompts the question, was he also unfaithful? She said she contemplated that, too. But she didn’t want to know. ‘‘Deceiving me over a two- year period is enough, regardless of the cause.’’
While her strength is admirable, it’s surprising. I know many women and men who’ve forgiven their partners for far worse: heavy drinking, infidelity, gambling and lies. I know one woman whose husband is so self-destructive and overweight, he has given himself a heart attack and now emphysema. He still won’t take responsibility and she won’t leave.
Why are poor behaviours deal breakers for one per- son and not another? Psychologists say it’s to do with childhood patterns. For instance, studies have shown that women who grew up with violent fathers are more likely to attract and tolerate an abusive partner. Similarly, an unstable, narcissistic mother might prompt a man to be drawn to such women, often with the desire to resolve something unresolvable, or play rescuer.
Such underlying motivations can be classed as repetition compulsion disorder, behaviour akin to pouring water into sand.
There will always be huge discrepancies between people’s deal breakers. But I do issue a sharp warning to the complacent. EDBs change with life experience. One day your partner’s values may suddenly shift. The kids might leave home, or a partner may enter therapy, and something snaps. Finally, it’s enough.
Being clueless about what matters to your partner is dangerous. As he was leaving, the smoker said to his deceived girlfriend: ‘‘I don’t know what all the fuss is about. It was only five to six ciggies a day.’’ I rest my case.
HOPE Springs, the new movie about a married couple who have lost that lovin’ feeling, has struck a chord not just with baby boomers and those married a long time, but with people in all sorts of unions — gay, straight, older, younger.
The reason is despite rumours that everyone is bonking like rabbits, the truth of what goes on behind closed doors in relationships is rather sobering. (more…)
I met an interesting man while travelling in Africa. We stayed at his hotel on a remote island in Mozambique. It had been his dream to run a resort. His great passion is the sea. Before he built his hotel he did many jobs in different industries but would always retreat to the ocean in the evenings and on weekends, fishing for endless hours, scuba diving, and snorkelling.
One night over drinks he talked to me about his “failed” marriage. He said he was still grieving the loss of his wife and regular contact with the children. But he told me something that surprised me. “The problem was that she hated the sea. She wouldn’t even walk on a beach. She hated sand … We always fought about it.”
Strangely on the same trip I met a woman whose passion was surfing. Similarly, she had spent many years with a bookish intellectual who couldn’t understand her need to get up every morning and drive to the surf; accusing her of not loving him enough to stay in bed. (more…)
I’m back! Here are the three column blogs I wrote during the break on how to avoid holiday blues.
How to avoid becoming an +++hole. this time of year
It’s that time of year where we all like to make New Year resolutions and atone for crimes big and small we’ve committed during the year. Well, at least I do. It’s a ritual I do each year instead of driving around to bad parties, caught in traffic and feeling unsatisfied. I sit down with those closest to me and write a list of all the things of significance that happened during the year; all the things I’m grateful for; and all the things I want to change. (more…)
I was overwhelmed with this question recently when I found my old address book and realised that so many friends were no longer around. I was reminded of all the women and men I’ve loved who died so young, leaving young kids or bereaved parents behind: three of cancer, one of Motor Neuron disease, one of a heart attack, two in car accidents, one by suicide.
And I wondered how other people deal with the grief from all the losses we’ve suffered and the impending losses we know are yet to come? (more…)
Envy is our best friends. It can tell us what we really want under all that resentment, so we can go get it
SEVERAL years ago, I noticed I was feeling very unfavourable towards a certain friend.
Every time I talked to her, I felt out of sorts. I began noticing things I didn’t like and avoided talking to her.
Because I like to self-reflect, I gave the matter some thought. Why was I suddenly pulling away from someone I dearly loved? And it came to me. Jealousy.
Rather than let the friendship go, I decided to list all the things that were making me feel jealous of her. And only one came up.
Although she is gorgeous and very talented, my red light was that she travelled a lot for work. Just back from London, just off to Paris, just back from Vietnam, just off to America. I wanted to slap dat bi-atch down.
Buddhists say there are only real two emotional states, Love and Fear. And that all other emotions stems from them. Which one governs you?
A WONDERFUL tale. A dear friend of mine was very worried because life was about to change in ways that were beyond his control.
The house he was renting was unexpectedly put on the market. Given his lease had expired and he was on a month-by-month arrangement, there was no stopping the wheels of change. The agent informed him that he had a couple of months to move out.
Not so easy. The house was a very basic home in an outer suburb, dark and hard to heat. But it had one major plus. The owners allowed dogs and the garden was large enough for two rather feisty ones. So he stayed and stayed. The news couldn’t have come at a worse time. With an ailing sister, and the necessity to spend several months interstate imminent, he was shaken. “No one will take me with two dogs; I will never find anywhere in a couple of weeks.” (more…)
I RAN into an old friend the other day. It was a chance meeting. I consider this woman one of my true soul mates; someone I’ve shared so much with during the early days of my career. We have a similar sense of irony and humour, and see life through the same eyes.
We lost touch. The last time I had dinner with her was maybe two years ago. And yet the moment we sat down there was the same familiarity and comfort as if no years had gone by at all. We did the “OMG, what have you been doing?” thing for a while, and then reverted straight to the observations, laughter and social commentary that marked our friendship. I knew we would be friends to our death. (more…)
I once witnessed the loyalty of a dog who sensed his Master was soon to die, and sat at the foot of the bed whimpering for days before an operation. The dog never left the spot by the bed until he was dragged away.
The story I have talked about is one that is dear to my heart. The man going to have the operation was my father and the dog was our loyal family pet Pipi who lived with my father and adored him. For a few days Pipi cried before my father went into hospital. Dad, sadly, never returned. And somehow his dog knew what none of us would have dared to face. (more…)