His Love Story


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.

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7 responses to “His Love Story

  1. Daisy Norwana Ahmad

    The main key in any relationship the foundation they must hv in their Heart – Love. When theres love . All petty arguments , hatred misunderstanding wont stay long. When theres Love , theres Life .

  2. Well said, Joanne.:)

  3. Thanks for sharing. It’s a lovely little anecdote about love.

    In my view, love doesn’t even start with listening, but with care for the other person, or as my teacher says it, it’s about opening the door of your heart to someone. My personal definition of true love is when the other person is as important to you as your own self is to you. Without the care and importance, most people usually won’t bother listening.

    Another point to add is that while love isn’t many acts (since loving someone first starts from within you), a relationship is made up of many acts done and undone. In many ways, relationships are like sculptures that are slowly sculpted over the years by strokes contributed by both parties. When both parties don’t bother, that’s like a half completed sculpture full of rough unpolished parts.

    One of the first things that my wife said to me when we first got together was that “love is about making the constant effort not to fall out of love.” Which I agree: that’s why I married her. 🙂

  4. Sigh. Silly wordpress seems to have lost my comment… Let me re submit.

    In my view, love starts not from listening or communication, but as my teacher likes to say, from opening the door of your heart to someone else, and caring for that person. My personal definition of love is to view someone else as important as your own self. Without this care and priority, most people wont bother to really listen or communicate. Unfortunately, most people sometimes give more care to their cars, houses, bags and other material things than to their human relationships, and they give greater priority/time on work than to their loved ones.

    Second point. While love (as an internal act of opening up) isn’t a collection of many small acts, a relationship is. It’s like a sculpture made of small strokes done and undone by both parties, with neglect causing the sculpture to have large parts unpolished and rough. You also have to keep working at it, as time constantly erodes the sculpture/relationship too. When I first met my wife, she said that “being in love is working constantly not to fall out of love with the other person.” Which I agree with: that’s a reason why I married her. 🙂

  5. Its true, I agree with you, you know when love is over or when it has begun. Having children are not an indication of love, marriage is. And that’s how one can tell.

  6. Well said, but in big city and sometimes due to circumstances, its kinda hard. Especially for artists like you that had to work long and odd hours. Sometimes it’s also just about accepting each other and cherish each moments. Not just tick, he kiss me, she hug me, saying we love each other.. Just embrace and love with each opportunity.. It’s never easy to find one that understand each other.. and better not expect love is perfect that there wont be issues or quarrels.

  7. You write so well! Glad I’ve found my way over here. A definite fan ❤

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