Memories of flower and bird and wind and world, and all the living and all the dead.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Like a fish needs a bicycle
Love. Not much of an expert. I’ve been in love a couple of times. I loved my husband truly, madly, deeply and then dearly, solidly, faithfully but when love receded, we were left, two people in middle years with no common ground. Two people locked in separate towers. The loving companionship that I’d looked forward to once our children were grown wasn’t there. No shared interest, unless you counted a whopping great mortgage. I fell in love with the man who promised to share the rest of my life with me. To love and care for me. Beyond the physical, we shared so many things. Books, music, ideas. I never stopped loving him. He buggered off.
So here I am, on my own and enjoying the equilibrium. Happy enough. Not enough of an expert in being in a happy relationship to dare to offer any advice to anyone. I do know a bit about unhappiness and, umm, being middle-aged. And I can smell and taste unhappiness in a house made miserable with a toxic relationship.
Once the passion draws back and we’re left looking into the distance, there has to be more than love to keep us going. Once the children are grown and the mortgage paid off, there has to be a sustaining friendship. Knowing what will interest the other. Taking pleasure in surprising the other with small treats. Sitting companionably in the car not needing to talk. Respecting each other’s independence as well as anticipating their needs.
I have friends who have enjoyed long, loving, faithful and respectful marriages. I read many blogs where people find companionship and solace so I know that it’s doable. They have willingly given up the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue for the deep, deep peace of the marriage bed.
So this brings me to my friend. Her husband is rude and disagreeable. He makes no effort to be welcoming and polite to people. If you don't agree with him, you are automatically labelled as stupid. He feels no awkwardness in shouting at visitors.
But much worse is the way that he treats my friend, his wife. The person he promised to love and honour.
He belittles her at every opportunity. She appeases him. He denigrates her looks and figure. She worships him. He criticises every opinion that is not his own. She brings him titbits and morsels to please. He drives her friends away by his foul moods. She excuses him.
I read a quotation by Nietzsche “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages."
Watching them, I see no friendship, only an abuser and victim. For years, I've kept my, admittedly mouthy, gob shut. Of late, other mutual friends have deliberately taken me aside to talk about the situation. Indeed, I gave a stranger (to me) a lift and within 10 minutes, she had brought the subject up.
Someone asked me if there is any likelihood that my friend will read this. Not bloody likely. He supervises her use of the internet and filters her emails.