February 11, 2021

Like a Love Song, Sorta

I’ve been counselling a friend lately through the nasty end of a relationship and in the advent of Valentine’s Day, it’s given me pause to reflect on love.  The view of someone else’s trainwreck develops hindsight pretty sharply, and there is a lot we need to unlearn about love in the age of Corona.

Love is NOT All You Needis what The Beatles ought to have said but I just did.

It is a particularly bold move to disagree with Lennon and McCartney but this particular lyric needs some tweaking. Love is not enough. We have all no doubt watch relationships where people who ‘love’ each other break down and it isn’t a want for love. 

So what else do you need? 

Love DOES Cost A Thing –  is what J.Lo ought to have said but I just did.

Love, and the building of a life together, costs real and quite serious money. Particularly in Byron Bay. 

Similar attitudes toward money and material comforts are important. There is nothing quite like the stress of not having enough money. Saving is more than a behaviour, it’s an attitude and a mindset to forgo satisfaction now in exchange for reaching bigger goals, later. Spending can lead to control or resentment.

Money might be very boring, or even taboo, to talk about when two hearts meet and intertwine but a structured conversation about the practicalities of money at the start will save a lot of heartaches and unknotting down the road. 

Don’t stand so close to me – The Police got that one right, no notes.

The poet Khalil Gibran said of marriage, “The oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

One of the fastest ways to kill togetherness is to slowly strangle your individuality.

Without nourishment through other connections and interests, you cannot grow or change and you will run out of things to share with one another, no matter how interesting you believe yourselves to be. An insulated little love bubble is also a petri dish for mould in a relationship.  

The kids are NOT alright – What Kylie Minogue ought to have said but I just did.

When it comes to responsibility for children, you need to be a united front. As children grow and develop their own agency, they learn to smell both fear and dissent and they will exploit it. It is a survival instinct so don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s them. 

Childhood is a global entanglement in the 21st century thanks to InstaFaceTokBookaGram. The organic parenting experiment you wanted for your children will fail at times for a reason a lot of experiments fail, and that is the absence of control. Even if you limit screen time, you won’t be able to limit the screen time of other kids and they will let them know what they’re missing, no doubt.

Parenting is really an adaptive science, so evolving conversations are important so that you and your partner can be effective strategic agents.

What is love? Baby don’t hurt me – Haddaway got that one right, no notes.

The old adage that “sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me,” sounds like it was made up originally to help someone who had been justifiably hurt by name-calling. When you disagree, remember that you are aiming for a win-win, not a win-lose. There is a safe way that I admit defeat in my relationship. I say, “you were right, I was less-right” and then no one has to be wrong. If we argue, it is only really about things that can’t be googled so it tends to be more about “my vs their perspective”. No one’s perspective is ever wrong to them, but if it is a matter of only being less-right, one of us will normally calm down and concede. If it isn’t really worth fighting about or we will never know the answer, we’ll say “You might be right”.

Another really good piece of advice is to hear the hurt, not the words. Not everyone is Shakespeare when it comes to expressing themselves and not everyone is able to digest the Complete Works of Shakespeare in a disagreement. Ask questions and earnestly try to understand the other person’s perspective and it is a honey pot that will catch all the flies.

Getting hysterical, having drama, name-calling and potshots just create emotional debt that you bring forward. Even after the argument is finished, those words hurt and keep hurting.

It’s not a walk in the park to love each other – Paramore, also nailed it. No notes.

Stockholm syndrome also produces those butterflies and we can pretty much all agree that is an unreliable guide to choosing a partner. I’ve highlighted some very bad and also quite sensible advice from love songs ahead of Valentine’s day as more or less a community service announcement. Love, or at least the lasting kind that has side-by-side rooms in a nursing home, isn’t about euphoria. It’s much more about just being happy on a Sunday morning cleaning the bathroom. If you can find that, you’ve really got something.

It would make a pretty average song though.

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