All that we have is a relationship
Kj (a friend of the highest order) said “I think relationships are not meant to last.”
I replied “I read this interview of Jeffrey Archer years ago where he talked about his 43-year old marriage with Mary.”
At that time I couldn’t remember the exact words that Sir Archer had used to describe the source of strength in his partnership with Mary. So, I searched for that interview. Didn’t find that one but here’s an excerpt from another one :
“You don’t have any opinion at all. When you have been married 20 years – I have now been married for 46 – everyone goes through problems. Don’t pretend it’s me. Others wonder, ‘How did they survive when we didn’t?’ We survived because I am never not fascinated by Mary, and have total regard and respect for her. We bring something to each other the whole time. We are very aware of it.”
He mentions mutual admiration/excitement & awareness in this piece. In the other interview he spoke about reviving relationships by reinventing oneself from time-to-time. Now, I don’t know if the Archers actually have a fulfilling relationship or if it’s about convenience. Nevertheless, this wisdom is precious.
I am a person who is highly prone to boredom. I reach the idle state of mind pretty soon, quite often. Forget other people, I can’t see myself being the same for too long. So, after various experiments with love, relationships and sexual liberation ; I was eventually able to answer a few questions :
- Why do I get bored? Monotony
- Same people, same place or same activities? A combination of all these
- Is there a way to deal with this by changing the parameters of the combination? Yes
- What will I change? Activities & places and in that order.
- What about people? They will change as the activities change anyway.
- Do I mean that people will be different in every activity? Well, not necessarily. The same person can change/adapt based on the activity that they partner with you for. And if life is an activity and you have a life partner, you & they will have to change from time-to-time.
No, you don’t change partners. You just face each other afresh with new thoughts, new ideas and new perspectives. In simple terms, you reinvent yourself. And that basically is what JA has said in his interviews over years.
Love & principles
If we have some principles intact, reinventing ourselves becomes one of the easiest & the most enjoyable thing. These principles can be honesty, fairness, justice etc., or it could be something as powerful yet rare as love.
Love is not an emotion. It’s a process that surfaces as you keep working on it. For explanation, I will take the example of my love for my profession. How do I know that I love my work? Did eyes meet, sparks fly when I looked at the first piece of poetry that I ever wrote? Did I go weak in my knees looking at my first essay? Maybe I did. That was in school, but then what happened? Nothing.
I wrote in school, a bit in college but by the time I landed in my first job as an engineer, I hadn’t written anything worth falling in love with. In that job, people started reacting to my informal emails, photo-captions and found my random chat-interactions hilarious. My boy-friend asked me to start a blog of my own. For 2 years, I wrote a series of grammatically untidy blog posts which were for a very small audience, entertaining.
It was only a few years after my Masters in Creative Advertising that I started to see love in my work. My palette was full of creative problems and within 1.5 years in advertising, I started to love solving them. Since then, every day spent without a real challenge has been dull & loveless. Of course, that means most of my work-life has been loveless. But it doesn’t matter because today, I have developed a knack for identifying creative challenges. I see the sparks and within moments, the task transforms into a love-loaded process of finding the solution.
I draw love out of my labor.
I believe the same applies to two people in love. Except that both the entities here need to be active towards each other, constantly. I need to draw love out of my partner and he needs to do the same; only then can it becomes a fulfilling relationship. Just like work-love, one needs to only think about what they can do at their end. Yes, the relationship might fail but you will know that it wasn’t because you didn’t/couldn’t love. To face failure however, your love needs courage. Setbacks, disappointments etc. should only be welcomed, because they will enrich the process. Love is an extremely powerful process but it takes a strong heart to beat in it.
Unfortunately many people in the eastern society (India) have lost the opportunity to rightly assess their interaction, connection with each other. Sometimes one of them is just not self-aware. But the good news is that if we put in a little more heart, keep the communication open (no matter what!) and believe that we can work towards happiness by helping each other, it could work.
Sexual love v/s Sex in a relationship
Sex is an activity. I pondered over why people mix up emotions & sex. The answer that I found was in the difference in our personalities and attitudes. For example, I spend my emotional energy in almost every activity. So, even sex takes that form. Many others don’t really get their heart involved in everything. For these people, sex is a purely physical expression. In a relationship, if both people love the action & work towards making it an enjoyable experience, it’s like playing any sport together. Sadly there is so much invested in sexual fidelity that we forget that the true foundation of a great relationship lies in emotional enrichment. It’s very hard to fight sexual attraction through your lifetime, every time. Those who are able to overcome that for their own well-being, do so with the strength gathered from the long-term relationship. If one can’t draw that strength, maybe the relationship isn’t meant to be. However if there is deep understanding, active dialogue and unbreakable trust between two people, even sexual infidelity can be trivial.
It’s been barely 4 years in my relationship of learning, fun & struggle. But the journey of love has managed to stay ahead of time. And today when it’s been 15 days of being apart, the pain of missing my partner is as sweet as it was 3 years ago.