She stood there in the kitchen, barefoot but not pregnant, that had long passed through the forty swift years of marriage.
Her man entered, she leaned up, gave a light kiss on the lips, playfully she said, ‘You stink.’
His eyes twinkled, a smile touched his lips, a hidden message, a meaning only known to them. ‘I’ll wash.’
‘A hard day?’
‘Yes, didn’t go as expected.’ All the while he smiled like a Cheshire cat. Something I could not fathom happened between them.
‘Saw Rosemary, had a coffee at the markets.’
‘OK. How she doin?’
‘Hun she walking through it all. Amazing her commitment since Bill left to face what needed to be faced. Take your time, dinner will be soon enough. Hungry?’
It delighted me to see two people enjoying such closeness, unconcerned if others saw it. I pretended I hadn’t noticed their affection as I sat at their dining room table; they seemed not to mind or care I was there.
Rare, very rare these days. All too often most in modern societies become caught up in do, do, do and more do, to achieve, to get the job done, as if that’s what life is about; too many people at the end of their working career come to realise they have traded the bauble of achievement and recognition for the precious gems of children, relationship, family, community and love. Lonely and disillusioned their children have done what they did; they are too busy to be there for their parents. The parents modeled behaviour all too well in whose footsteps their children followed … to their detriment!
Not these two somehow they had worked out what life was about.
When I think of love I think of these two friends and others like them.
Later that night as I was lying in bed reading, I listened to their quiet indiscernible chatter and laughter for over an hour. Next morning she asked me if they had kept me awake.
‘No not at all, I was reading for a long time.’
‘It’s our time together. Always has been.’
‘You mean over the last forty years?’
‘That is extraordinary.’
Love has it’s many expressions, in many different ways.
Some years ago I decided to ask independently five married couples who I had known for many years what their secrets of having a long lasting happy relationship. I expected a range of responses; my pen was poised to capture their wisdom. Independently each couple said the same but in different ways. They had hit rough patches in their relationships when they looked at the other asking ‘What did I ever see in this person?’ Looking within themselves they found nothing, no romance, no feeling of being attached. They were barren of emotion and reason. Each couple decided not to abandon their relationship but to discover what had been lost because of time pressures, work consuming their energies, children who required love and attention. They began by making space for each other again, and for their relationship, time alone, to communicate, for affection and making love before the act, and importantly to air their grievances. That took effort and intention. Each of the five couples restored priority intentionally. There they stood their ground to rediscover what was lost. Happily, I can say all five did, that’s why I chose to ask them their secrets … not so much a secret but common sense … make time for each other, invest in the relationship, never let the sun go down on your anger or wrath.
What does it take to love, to be comfortable with each other?
Over the years I have compiled files on the dynamics of Social Relationships in their many forms. The following ideas come from research, relationship theory, experience in counselling and life, observations of thousands of relationships in fifty years. I am a student of life, love and learning.
Following is a rough summary of some of the material I have mined from much research during those years.
Research shows happily married couples:
- never take their relationship for granted, they invest time, energy and expression of affection toward one another in many different ways
- create time alone together giving priority to building and maintaining an affectionate friendship that is both protected and exclusive
- are physically affectionate, hugging, holding hands, cuddling (who cares if others see them being affectionate, they are in a world, a bubble of their own making) and touching. Such physicality communicates to the depth of the human heart, that is if it is from an affection for the other rather than what is given because ‘I want’ that is to receive. The need to belong, to experience mutuality, commonality, is strong in us humans. Physicality is crucial to the wellbeing of intimate relationships, the touch, the brush by, and the gentle playful nudge communicate a close familiarity, a belonging in the bosom of the other. Other signals compliment special knowing, the look understood by each other, inferences of body language, speech, the difference in smiles and looks all communicate a knowing of the other, an understanding shared.
- express their married love sexually. Of course you say marriage and sex go together. Research indicates the type of sex reveals the type of marriage. Good sex usually comes from good friendship where respect and trust are foundational. Relationship is not about sex but each other. Sex is the expression of the deeper ‘already have’ in the inner being of the relationship. Any two people can have sex, that is easy, but making love is another story altogether J!! Unfortunately, in our sex crazed world somehow much is lost and sex is less than it is.
- express their appreciation, admiration, and attention to one another This world is scarce in its approbation and affirmation. Therefore, the marriage, the home needs to be a bulwark against this deprivation by being a place of light (absebce of darknessin the relationship), love and vibrant life.
- The H.O.T. © (Wayne R Crockford) Principle: Honesty, Openness, Trust.
You may think these three are the same … look at the unique quality in each to understand the difference. Lovers share their thoughts and feelings hearing one another, not merely the outward words but the person inside, their signals, their codes learning to disclose what is on their hearts and minds to each other building confidence through vulnerability that says with arms wide open. Confiding in each other is as normal as breathing … there is no hiding, or escape because of fear the other might discover your weaknesses or the ‘sin in being you’. There is no need to hide when you are loved and you love. Indeed, as the Apostle John says there is no fear in love.
- express love materially giving little gifts to each other for no other reason than it is a delight to give, to show affection to the other. There is no need for special occasions because the special occasion is ‘them’. Lovers love giving.
Jesus encouraged us to walk in love and the Apostle John equated love with walking in the Light (Jesus).
There is an African saying, “To walk in the light is to walk with the roof off and the walls down.”