Today I cancelled two meetings and one talk, refused a commission and fell behind on several others. This stuff is pretty important to me – not least because it pays my bills – so I’m pretty pissed off that the flu is KICKING MY ASS.
But anyway, this isn’t meant to be a moan about being ill (though I am really ill so any sympathy is very welcome) or an exercise in self-importance (though the flu could have chosen a less important week to kick my ass)… in classic tangent fashion, it’s actually about marriage, or, at least, about relationships.
Last Thursday, a friend commented that he had never been envious of anyone’s relationship, bar one couple – a couple whose marriage fell apart after the woman was unfaithful. I didn’t really give it much thought – people cheat, marriages end.
Today, I read a piece in the Guardian, in which Charlie Brooker is talking about kinda-maybe-sorta wanting a wife and very astutely makes the following observation: “In the face of love’s potential destructive fury, you’re left with three options:
- Pull down the emotional shutters and try to avoid it.
- Find someone you admire or like, rather than love, and try to make do, rendering both of you miserable in the process.
- Throw caution to the wind and gingerly place your fragile, beating heart in the hands of another human being and hope they don’t crush it in their fist for giggles.”
While reading it, I realised that I, like my friend, don’t know one couple whose relationship/marriage I envy. I don’t know one couple that makes me think, “That is what love is meant to look/feel/be like”.
Maybe that’s ok. Real relationships are messy and imperfect – my one certainly is – but I’m still surprised and perhaps saddened by the fact that I don’t know a single couple whose relationship is wonderful and amazing. Is this because I fraternise with pessimists and misanthropes? Is it because I’ve been brought up in a culture of arranged marriage? Is it because I’ve been fed impossible ideals by a diet of unrealistic romcoms? I don’t think so.
I have happy, optimistic, laidback friends; I know people who have had non-arranged marriages and who are miserable (as well as people in arranged ones who are relatively happy); and as for the impossible ideal, I know there’s enduring, all-encompassing love – I just don’t know anyone who has that in their relationship. That been-together-fifty-years-and-still-haven’t-run-out-things-to-say type of love seems to have died in modern times. Do you agree? If not, please convince me. If so, it’s kinda sad, don’t you think?