I Don’t Think It’s Supposed To Be Like This

Nov 2, 2015
I Don’t Think It’s Supposed To Be Like This Perspective is always a good thing; so having met a special someone – a female of the opposite sex – I find myself drawn to the occasional internet article about how relationships are supposed to unfold. Reading that sort of tripe usually runs against my better judgement, simply because my judgement is usually better. However, I’m feeling uncharacteristically smug at the moment so I’ve given in to temptation.   

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 article:   

The ‘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 now”.   

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 crematorium.   

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 been through.   

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 delivery lorry?   

 It 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

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