“Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy,
absentminded. Someone sober
will worry about things going badly.
Let the lover be.” -Rumi
The most recent (extremely privileged) piece which I published – The Relationship Theater – generated quite a bit of private conversation. All but one of which was in favour of its premise; some couples who had already shifted to this structure, others who wish they could, and finally those who are planning to do so in future. A long-time reader asked me if this older piece below still stood. Of course it does. The Relationship Theater isn’t counter commitment, and it most certainly isn’t anti-marriage. What it is is a different possibility on a very old, and very challenging relationship architecture to many of us. (And to be extra clear, do note that I am equally looking forward to marriage or not, whatever is Written for me.)
Relationship Theater is my very personal roadmap to ensuring that the below is established and then always maintained. With the caveats that if ever one of us becomes sick, or we are no longer financially able, or one of our parents falls ill and we must take care of them, all of the below shifts without question. Ultimately, I am a hopeless romantic looking for the same, and if maintenance means shifting, so be it.
Also, if my relationship with my man morphs from a focus on the theater to whether or not he picked up the groceries and put out the garbage, I believe that a part of present me would feel very much suffocated. Maybe it is because I’ve not experienced it. Maybe I’d love nothing more than a man with Cheeto dust on his shirt, sat like a potato on our couch. All possibilities remain, and I reserve the right to change my mind if some fella makes me super excited about the groceries he did bring home and put away. Stay tuned!
And now, back to the original article –
Last week, I was chatting with a friend about the following subject and which — turns out — gets me very riled up: Not appreciating our partners. Not wanting to spend time with them. Not wanting to hang out with them in bed. Not wanting to just free fall into nothingness with the person with whom you’ve chosen to spend an exorbitant amount of time.
I said that if you are free and able to do so, but choose not to spend a few more moments, or an entire day or weekend in bed with your partner, then you probably shouldn’t be with them. That if you need outside static, and can’t pause to do nothing except be with this wo / man / both (because I am not here to judge), then there is something fundamentally at odds in your relationship and you should probably check out. But only after you have in good faith and ferociously attempted to bridge whatever divide obviously exists.
I was told this is a bold statement.
How? How is it a bold statement when sex and its own very particular language is one of the most important forms of communication between lovers?
Dearest seven readers, are we fighting? Am I too much the romantic fool?
I am usually a rational person, but often find myself wanting to pick up heavy objects and throw them around a room when I am made privy to the following: That someone has been blessed enough to partner, but they don’t appreciate it. That they don’t wake-up and choose their lover every single day – this being a key factor in a successful healthy relationship. (As Muslims, we are asked to remember our love for Allah five times a day; I believe that we absolutely must do the same with our lover. Daily daily daily. Else, a chasm is created and the taking for granted, and the letting go kick-in.)
I mean. How exciting is it to wake up to someone every morning? To have your neck nuzzled, your shoulder kissed, your hair held as a gentle way to wake up? How amazing is it to roll over and curl into someone? How can we take for granted waking up and finding next to us someone we really really like, who is not our mum?
Am I lunatic to think that we should do double duty to keep things adventurous and sexy and fun and imaginative? Please, please tell me if I am some sort of a crazy person.
Only before you do, let me state that I am 100% a connection/love fetishist. If ever I wake up in bed thinking “ugh, I can’t wait to roll out of here,” then this will serve as a massive flag that something is wrong.
Look. I get that it’s easy to idealize what we don’t have, and that some of you may be thinking that I may be this way because I haven’t had many relationships, and I am good with this. Yes, very few have been privy to the absolute inner workings of me, a privilege for both of us. I also don’t plan on changing this, because while this is not the case for many of you, and I respect that 100%, I fully understand it doesn’t work for me. I am far too intense to have this work for me.
The bastard lucky enough to get his hands on me long term? I will strap him to a bed for at least the first five years, because I have to make up for lost time. Moderation has never been my jam, and I am not good unless I am feasting. For me, anything less would have seen me married long ago. And survey says, very unhappy.
I have always believed that at the core of us is the need to connect, and this is reflected in Rumi’s poetry all of which is about re-unification with God; it is no surprise that it reads like a love story to the human condition, that Ecstasy (capital ‘E’) is most closely experienced by ecstasy (small ‘e’), and when viewed as such, why would I ever wish to squander it on just anyone?
Why would you?
awi awi!! 🙂
As always, beautifully written, Maha. Thank you for writing and sharing!
Thanks ya Yasmine. Happy you enjoyed x
I agree that to have a partner whom you do not fully appreciate is to waste – a waste of both people’s time. I’m not naive enough to expect to be fully, 100% in love with them all the time – disagreements are bound to happen and are still found in healthy relationships. Having had few relationships myself, it bothers me when the happily coupled bemoan the little frustrations and reminds me of everything I’d kill (at least several very large and ferocious spiders) to have.
That said, I think all of us sometimes take amazing things for granted. I’ve definitely taken the love of my amazing family for granted, and I have to remind myself how very rare and loving they are and how fortunate I am to have them when so many others do not have the pleasure and privaledge of having a supporting family.
As to the firestorm – I can’t blame you for wanting that, as that works for you. I had that once, and I found that I lost sight of everything else in my life. To the end that when that relationship burned through quickly and painfully, I found myself lost. What is healthier for me personally is a love that is both fiery passionate and slow and steady in turns. I need both, and I think most successful loves have a little of both in them – steadfast and trustworthy, able to survive the downs just as well as the ups. The passion inferno brings you to bed for fun, the steady deep love keeps you in bed when you’re mad at your partner.
But the world knows I’m no expert. Honestly I’d like very much not to be in so many relationships that I am considered an authority. But I’ve had both sorts, and somehow the slow and steady calms me, and this is something I very much need when I want to be passionate and excited and fly off the handle, I need someone to remind me to focus my silly but lovable joyous energy. A calm man simply handles me better than an outwardly passionate one who gets as riled as I do…
I think we start to think our partners are boring when we let ourselves get boring. A relationship can’t stay exciting when each individual in it doesn’t stay exciting. And lots of people can only keep up with being an exciting person for so long. It’s hard work, and it’s easier to expect infatuation to take up the slack. Which of course doesn’t last long enough. But hey, it’s worth it, whether you have a partner or not!
That, and I don’t think people have high enough standards for marriage. They think feelings are a good enough reason. You gotta have the feelings *and* a worthy person – feelings wax and wane for all sorts of reasons, but they can always be rekindled with a worthy man 🙂
(and I do believe in the wax and wane of feeling/intensity/need for space). But I do hear you and agree whole heartedly!
As a former married person, I did really like spending a lot of time with my husband. He was my best friend, and the person I most wanted to hang out with (and he, me).
Having had it all, and having had nothing (in the relationship department), I intend to have it all. Because otherwise, what is the point?
I also get irritated with marrieds sometimes. I want to say “dude! Stop being unkind. Stop taking him/her for granted. Appreciate the gift you have been given. Respect him/her. Honour his/her differences. Appreciate what s/he does. And if you really can’t any more, then let them be because you both deserve more.”
I know marraige is not easy (sometimes), but it really should not be hard.
“Dearest seven readers, are we fighting? Am I too much the romantic fool?”
Dear Maha, You are not. I loved my wife until the day she passed and we had the relationship you aspire to. It is not unattainable by any means. We were surrounded by couples who should not have stayed together but did anyway out of comfort and fear. You will not be one of these people and in that will be your comfort. ‘All or nothing’.
I don’t know how any man meets you and doesn’t want to free fall into your incredible fucking arms, Maha.
^^^^What steve said. If men won’t drop into you they’ll never drop into me. I just dnot’ get it 🙁 -lily
Jenn: Agreed. Unless you are at fundamental odds — communication, lifestyle wants, future ambitions, no longer working as a team — then you should be able to work things out. I love all that you wrote, and that you know what works for you. Simply, for me, a firestorm is the only thing that can hold me down; and so far, no man has been able to hold me down.
You are beautiful. I can’t wait for you to free fall in the way you deserve.
Lisa: Perfectly stated about feelings not being enough. The chemistry is the starter, and what gets you in the door; but everything else is what gives longevity and keeps you inside together.
Becks: Nothing to add xx
Thomas + Steve: Thank you both.
Lily: You are beautiful inside and out, and one day we will finally meet and have coffee, and you’ll tell me about the man in whom you recognized yourself, and who in turn scooped you up. Trust.
Why is it human nature to take for granted the things we have? This is a sad fact (at least in my obervations, it appears to be a fact about human nature but goodness knows I’m no expert).
Maha, we are not fighting but your words are… hard to live by. However. You are Right & I know this because every time I think about your words & apply them to my relationship, my relationship has a Smiley / Happy / Friendly / Lovely / Sxing moment. So. There’s that.
“So. There’s that.” is the only reason I think we need to push our selves harder.
Though they should have left one another before then my parents got divorced after around 15 years of marriage, and a few years before that of a love story. With them, it wasn’t taking one another for granted, but rather one of them just fell out of love over time. I don’t even know if they much liked one another at the end, as I don’t recall it ever being friendly. I understand that my words are hard to live by as they mean working every day to be interested and to remain interesting, and I have seen first hand that this is extremely challenging. Sometimes, even when you put all of the effort in, if one person has already checked out emotionally, there is absolutely nothing left to be done but move on to the next stage in your life. No fault anywhere, just reality.
Likewise, Maha. You are loving and wise and gorgeous to boot – I can’t wait to see you find the all-consuming love you deserve. Faith, sister.
“Dearest seven readers, are we fighting?”
No…I just fell behind. 😛
“Am I too much the romantic fool?”
No. There is nothing wrong with wanting to love with all your heart and wanting to be loved the same way by another.
My parents are they kind of people that the cynical, bitter, emo in me goes, ugh pass the bucket, I just threw up a bit in my mouth. 😛 I swear they are more in love now then they have ever been during my 20 something something years. They are like teenagers. And they sit on the couch, with the cat in the middle, patting her, which is their subtle way of saying to me hurry up kiddo and pop out some grandkids for us to babysit. Their relationship is frigging epic and I don’t see why we should have to settle for anything less.
Beautiful, Maha… This and nothing less, for all of us still searching.
Ameen <3 <3 <3
Um once again my only reaction is swoon 🙂
I believe, too. I hear from friends who have relationships that are so often hard–full of disappointment and negotiation. And I think to myself, “no, thank you.”
There has really been no time in my marriage in which my wife wasn’t the person I most wanted to hang around. I am an only child and so I find I very often need a few minutes to myself, to center and breathe, but after that, I’m good to go. I honestly don’t understand wanting to be apart from your love. Friends sometimes snicker and roll their eyes, but I hear–repeatedly, actually–that they wish they had such trust and love as I do. I keep thinking, you can, you just have to believe you deserve it.
And, truly, honestly, I think everyone can find it. Nobody and no relationship is perfect, but love really and truly is, well, easy. At least, the decision to be together, every day, every second, is easy to make.
I believe you will find that man. And he will be very lucky.
Happy that it resonated, Peter 🙂
And to you too, Becks <3 <3 <3 x
Infant! I missed your comment from ago. I love that your parents are your go-to love idols!! They sound as amazing as YOU. Have the babies when you are ready…the cat seems to be doing the trick 😉
Sage — thank you also for your comment. I too believe that love should itself be easy, and I love that you have found what you need in your woman. I hope that I find the man who makes me happy in the way that I need. Really really, I do…
xs + os to you both