I was at a car wash at an off peak hour and while getting my car wiped down, one of the workers very politely came over to ask for a photo. I gladly obliged. He walked away and moments later he approached me and said, “Mam, can I ask you a question?” I replied, “Sure!” and looked at him expectantly.
He averted my gaze, lowered his head, licked his lips and looked like he was mustering the courage to ask what is now the question. He paused.
I grew increasingly curious about what it was he wanted to know that was making him so awkward.
“Mam, what does a woman look for in a man?”
I was stumped into silence. It was a simple question yet not so simple. I couldn’t answer straightaway because I knew it wasn’t about me. It was evident that he was probably hoping to find answers for himself. In other words, he must be having doubts or problems in his relationship.
Sure enough, after I blabbered something about the importance of communication, having someone who can understand me…he asked, “If you love somebody but always quarrel, does that mean it’s not the right person?”
Now it was my turn to pause. I didn’t want to respond because it wasn’t in my place to and more importantly I didn’t want to give him any (misleading) ideas.
He went on to share that he is going to get married to his ex in a month’s time, but they have been quarreling a lot. This morning before he left for work, they had a quarrel again. He is stressed up at work and he is stressed up at home. It appears that they fight over the smallest things.
I was moved by how truthful he was about his feelings and how he was hoping to improve the situation. I felt a warmth from this stranger, who was pouring his heart to me. He was reaching out to me in an effort to help himself.
I guess his wife-to-be might be feeling the same way on the other end. But he will never know and neither will she because they aren’t talking to each other about it. They probably can’t even broach the discussion without arguing about something else first.
Now is his marriage doomed before it even started? Is that why so many couples either don’t talk to each other anymore or end up in divorce?
“Do u remember what it was like when the two of you were dating?” I asked him.
He nodded, lips curved up in a faint smile, eyes searching the sky. It seemed like he was trying to recall moments, maybe specific incidents that made them both smile.
“When we are happy we laugh a lot, but now we just keep quarreling and I am so stressed. I love her, but if we always quarrel then maybe we should just be friends.”
My heart sighed.
Sometimes you just forget to be nice to each other; sometimes you become so used to being irritated with one another that even when one party tries to be nice, the other blindly reacts in a negative way; sometimes couples get caught up with daily tasks, to-do lists, family decisions, that they forget to love.
Everything in life becomes ruled by KPIs. We familiarise ourselves with “how to achieve”, “when to complete” in every aspect of our lives. But love has no must complete date. There is no end or finish to it. And because of that, it is easy to put it aside.
It’s like one morning you are in a rush and u didn’t kiss your partner goodbye. The next day your partner woke up late for work and didn’t kiss you goodbye. Each day pass with something that requires both your attention other than that kiss, then weeks, then months, and before you know it, a new habit has formed. What started off as seemingly justifiable neglect becomes the beginning of the end of affection.
Love is not what needs to be done. It is not made up of acts. A kiss can be just as empty if there is no love. What I mean is when we focus on the practicalities of life, neglect sets in. We become careless with the way we speak, we become calculative, we become stingy with our affections. We find excuses like “it’s natural that the honeymoon period is over”, to justify the deterioration of relationships; we blame the other person for starting it.
It’s not easy for two people to get together, it is even harder to stay together. But like the saying goes, you can drag a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. It takes both to cherish the rare union and make the effort to keep the romance alive.
When I told the stranger who asked, that I look for a man whom I can communicate with and understand me, I didn’t mean to be generic, I firmly believe that is the foundation to having a fulfilling relationship.
And it starts with listening.