I came across one article from a woman writing about how life
experience had taught her to stop looking for Prince Charming... and hey presto,
she then found her life partner. Wow… whoever would’ve thunk it? From her lofty
position amidst the clouds of happiness she was naturally eager to bestow the fruits
of her learning and came up with the earth-shattering revelation that
relationships go through stages: some high, some low; and that the low ones
don’t necessarily mean the end.
While I’m not one for raining on other people’s parades, none of
these supposedly hidden truths would’ve qualified as relationship rocket
science. But nevertheless, I was still intrigued to work out how I could
reconcile my own recent experiences with what this self-appointed ‘expert’ claimed
to have identified.
Let me firstly rehearse the so-called relationship stages in her
‘rose tinted spectacles’ stage
The new lover is seen through rose-tinted glasses. We idealise their
virtues - "Wow, you keep a really clean, tidy house" - and disregard their
flaws - "So, you have two children?" Likewise, we only focus on our
similarities - "Gosh, you’re an anti-EU, anti-immigration right winger too?"
We are soooo made for each other!"
The ‘back to real life’ stage
We start to see our lover as they really are and are sometimes left
feeling disappointed, because Hollywood movies
have convinced us the wonderful feelings are supposed to last forever. We start
focusing on differences and our lover’s flaws become harder to forgive: "You’re
too soft on them. If they were my kids I’d have kicked them both out the house by
The ‘knuckle down’ stage
You decide to commit. You open up to each other, look at your
individual contributions to the relationship and alter your behaviour accordingly.
The ‘knuckle down’ stage is an inevitable part of any relationship and has to
be gone through on a regular basis, rather like a full service and M.O.T.
The ‘true love’ stage
The ‘true love’ stage is the reward of a truly committed
relationship, characterised by unconditional love, safety, intimacy, respect
and fun together. Should a problem be encountered once in a while, it will be solved
because the relationship has the strength to withstand difficulties.
In my case, just three weeks after meeting my new partner, her 85
year-old mother was knocked over by a reversing car. Our time together since
has been punctuated (albeit willingly) by innumerable hospital visits to the
previously fit & active octogenarian, who’s so far spent six weeks in
hospital after sustaining a broken leg and then fallen prey to infections and distressing
mental confusion. This was topped off by a battle to keep her in her local
hospital instead of being transferred to one on the other side of the county.
My new partner then found herself being introduced to my ex-wife
after the two of them generously spared me from a final trip to the vet with my
beloved, elderly and very ill cat. What was later scheduled to have been a
carefree Saturday was instead spent making the grim pilgrimage to the pet
Barely two weeks later, with her mother still in hospital and
her equally elderly father spending his every waking hour at his wife’s bedside,
my partner’s parents suffered the loss of their beloved dog. I kept the deceased
canine in my mortuary for a few days until me, my partner and her two children spent
a crisp, sunny Sunday morning burying the animal in the garden.
So heaven only knows what stages our relationship has already
Oh, and did I mention my new partner has also watched an
embalming being performed and helped unload a stock order of 23 coffins off the
must be love….
James Baker owns and runs Fred Stevens Funeral Directors of Nailsworth, Glos. www.fredstevens.co.uk
He is the author of “A Life In Death – Memoirs Of A Cotswold Funeral Director” www.amazon.co.uk