How Deep Is Your Love?

No, seriously. How deep is it?

OK, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Why am I here? Project 44 asked me here. They said “Pay us a visit. Come check out our guys, they’re a cool bunch. Share a word or two.”

“I will be glad to come!” I enthused. “Do you serve tea? Some cookies, cake, to go with it perhaps? Food?” Are you wondering who I am? If you’re guessing ‘an African woman who loves food’, then bingo!

“Sure!” Project 44 agreed. Tea? This one must be from Western Kenya, they must have thought.

Even as I took the mic they offered me, I wasn’t sure what I would say.

Then I saw a group of big-bodied men struggling to uproot a big tree stump in my neighborhood the other day, and a light-bulb moment came on. 44 (can I call you that?), I might just have something to say to your cool audience after all!

I will clear my throat, take a sip of tea (sweeeet!), then I will hope that none of you will sense my nervousness “…they’re a cool bunch”. You’re a cool bunch – remember that when you get the urge to boo or heckle.

It was huge, the tree. Ginormous. Very conspicuous. It stood at the centre of this school compound, distributing the shade from its branches generously. Lately however, it seemed to have become an inconvenience. As I walked by, I noticed that cabro paving blocks were being laid down around the compound. It stood alone, the other trees having been cut down. I knew it was only a matter of time before this particular tree suffered the same fate.

True to my suspicions, the tree was cut down a few days later as the cabro work progressed. I saw a ‘gang’ of men come by to observe its stump. As I walked past the school on this particular morning, I noticed a four-wheel drive vehicle, with a big chain attached to it, parked beside the stump. Evidently, they wanted the whole tree gone; branches, roots, and now the stump. They had dug around it and cut off its roots. What they needed to do now was pull it out. They intended to tie the chain around the tree stump, two men were doing this already, and then they would use the vehicle to pull and yank it off the ground. Even as they did this, the men panted heavily, sweat adorning their masculine bodies. This tree was not going down without a fight.

The tree had been standing tall for years. It had spread its branches all out, domineeringly. It stamped its authority; “I have a right to be here”, it seemed to say. It had seen season, after season come and go.  It now stood defiantly, as the men tried to brainstorm on how best to destroy it. It wouldn’t be an easy task uprooting such a tree.

I left them to their mission and when I came back that evening, I witnessed their fait accompli. The school compound now lay bare. All paved with cabro. No tree in sight.

Think of love. Marriage. How many marriages require such rigorous work to destroy? How many have roots so deeply ingrained that killing it will require a posse of well-built men, a truck, power saws, axes, machetes, you name it? That is why I ask: How deep is your love?

Everyone seems to agree that divorce rates are at an all time high. Marriages are so easy to destroy nowadays. Why?

But why not?! How is a marriage to last when you base your decision to marry on the size of his wallet? When the money goes, won’t you disappear without necessarily seeking a Harry Houdini stunt to make it happen?

How will you avoid divorce if you are not willing to make sacrifices, to compromise, to do whatever it takes to nourish your love? How will you not split up if you cannot weather the harsh conditions; rainy days, freezing cold and scorching sun? Tell me, how will divorce not hound you when you are unable to remain faithful to your spouse?

If you are not working towards avoiding divorce from the onset of your marriage, then aren’t you walking right into it? I am tempted to think that you plan for divorce just as you plan for ‘happily-ever-after’. You just don’t know it at the time.

We are mostly a ‘microwave’ generation who mostly purchase pre-cooked meals from the grocery stores, toss it into the microwave and eyes on the timer, we impatiently tap our feet as we wait for it to heat up. With no energy to even fetch a plate for the food, we opt instead to eat directly from the packet. Is this ‘microwave’ mentality affecting our marriages as well? We don’t have time to cook anything, do we? Be it food or relationships. We’d rather just jump right to the end? There are better things to do: corporate corridors to strut, classes to attend, deals to strike, money to make… who has the time to ‘cook’ up a healthy relationship storm when there is easier, faster, readily available ‘junk’?

Just like the perfect meal, marriage takes some time, some work and some patience. It involves choosing a recipe that you can work with – a man or woman who shares your values and beliefs. The right ingredients – love, integrity, respect, commitment. The right temperature – a loving atmosphere, neither to burn nor under-cook. It means burning that meal and having the patience to do it over, and over again, until you get it right.

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Is it not obvious that a strong building owes its longevity to the strong foundation during construction; a tree to the deep penetration of its roots to the ground; a strong marriage to the strong values it is based on?

The rate of divorce is high because the foundation of marriage nowadays is shallow. We concentrate on trivialities like physical appearances, wealth, social status, heck even the number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Go figure!

How much effort will it take to yank your spouse away from you? Will it take an army of able-bodied, bulldozer-wielding, Yokozunas, or will a gentle toss from a feeble pair of hands suffice? Will it take a destructive Tsunami to have your marriage tumbling down, or will a gentle breeze whisk it away like a feather?

As you chew on that, allow me to finish my cup of tea and to grab this chance to thank 44 for offering me this precious cuppa in the light of our difficult economy.

Feel free to ‘avenge’ my visit by stopping by my home at www.perfectlywoman.wordpress.com

I will try to match 44’s generosity. I promise.

Renee

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Felling The Statue

I sat down with him to listen to this Adam and Eve story. It’s always interesting how when we listen to other people’s stories and drama, we tend to see things in black and white more than we think they do. In any event, if you’re the one in a relationship, you tend to wear a darker shade of goggles than those who are looking at the relationship from outside. That’s just part of human nature, because we are emotionally and physically entangled with the other person – experiencing with them is not the same as hearing about it. So I had a chance to listen to his side, and her side through him.

Her story: she is a woman who likes the finer things in life; being classy is something that is important to her and she wants those around her to be conversant with and exude class. She can’t necessarily afford all these finer things in life but wants to be with a man who can make her afford these things; he should be able to stand tall on his wallet and see beyond the average. She knows about the 80%-20% rule; she recognizes when she has found the 80% but if the 80% Adam is not also a knight in shining Hummer, then it’s definitely a problem for her. She also realizes that he who comes with the 20% may not necessarily treat her well – he may just avail the 20% and somehow assume that vicariously, the 20% will work itself into 80%.

His story: he’s a man chasing purpose in his life. He’s smart, has been employed before but left his job to pursue a dream of his, purpose and fulfillment of being. He’s just starting the journey but so far so good; he’s not calling himself a millionaire yet, but he’s not counting either. He makes ends meet, he gets by financially but personally, he’s growing and liking the fruits of his journey. He’s had what some would call a simple start to life and as time goes by, he learns the difference between the simple and finer things in life; however, he’s not concerned about needing to know and needing to be seen to know the finer things in life. To him, these are things that suit some and one gets to know them progressively; there is no race to the finish line and nothing to be ashamed of.

Their story: they really, really like each other. OK, they love each other. Beneath their relationship is a foundation of friendship. They are close; one can even say close friends. They know each other very well; if one went into a coma or some sort of memory lapse, the other would almost perfectly speak for him/her. They have shared some of their innermost secrets and know each other’s weaknesses. The thing is, they have dated but then they broke up but continued to have this friendship. They speak on the phone each day; meet up regularly and even visit with each other’s families. Friends and family think they are just meant to be together. In fact, it’s almost like they were together but just without the label saying “We are……….”. They cheer each other up; they cherish each other. They are everything but together. Why you may ask?

He’s been a good boyfriend and friend to her; he surprises her; does things to lift her spirits when she’s down, his acts are chivalrous and gives her what she needs. She realizes that he is a good man; he gives her with an open heart within his means; gives her what she needs. But she wants more. She wants the 20% – she wants him to stand tall on his wallet and be counted as a man who knows and appreciates class. When he says that maybe they cannot be together, she’s scared. She wants to have him but she doesn’t want to commit to him; she doesn’t want to lose the 80% either.

He knows what his potential is and he knows the purpose he is chasing in life. He’s had the Benjamins, he knows they can come and go; he knows that his worth today is not his worth tomorrow. He provides for her the best he can but he has his principles of purpose.

shauntee.com

Now, when I listened to all this, I thought about how sometimes we want to have our cake and eat it. When we find the 80% (depending on what the 80% constitutes for an Eve or Adam), we want to hold on to it whilst still looking for the mirage of 80+20%. We hold on to it because as time goes by, we don’t want to have missed this boat in case the big ship doesn’t come along.

I thought about reading about the three Ps in men’s kind of love – the ability to profess, to provide and to protect. I thought about how the Adam in this case had professed (yes, he did!), how he protected (OK, I didn’t see him fight any lions but he did) and how he provided; out of these three Ps, his ‘provide’ wasn’t rated up to scale. It made me think how sometimes we balance our needs and wants in our relationships and how I always feel that it is worrying if your needs are provided for but your desire for your wants are not met and that tips the scales. I asked myself if this Adam’s ego was bruised – I am not a man but I am told that when a man’s ability to provide is questioned, it is like shooting an arrow to the ego – and we can all imagine how it feels when the arrow is pulled out. At this point, I felt that he should just walk away from the relationship. If she wouldn’t accept him now for all that he is and his potential, then she should just let him go. Yes, deep feelings run through their veins like blood and they feel like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that come almost perfectly together except for a few pieces but my take was that these missing pieces were fundamental ones.

A week after we talked, she told him that she was thinking of getting back together with him. In fact, more recently, she’d become more supportive of the pursuit of his dream and was thinking more and more of a future together. In reality, they behaved like a couple only that they were not carrying a label she was not ready to commit to the tag of a couple; not without the 20%. But she pingponged right back after a couple of weeks and said she wasn’t really sure about it.

I thought about the posts we have written before about what loving someone and being together means – about respect, about fairness for each other’s feelings, about what Adams and what Eves want from relationships; about looking in the mirror; about how women and men should treat each other. I thought about how sometimes we (mostly Eves) get lost chasing a lottery ticket when we already have a jackpot and I thought about how this Adam deserved better. Surely he deserved better.

Have your say.

By Joyce