“Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy,
absentminded. Someone sober
will worry about things going badly.
Let the lover be.” -Rumi
Editorial Note: Originally published in 2012, I revisit this every while to make sure I still believe in it and have all of this same hope coursing through every part of me. Until the day I die.
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. Additionally, I have, over the years, become very comfortable with the idea of shared commitment, shared home, shared everything with a pre-cohabitation / pre-nup agreement. It used to be marriage or bust for me, but not anymore.)
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.
I am also a woman who refuses to fall into a state of apathy with anyone in my life – romantic or otherwise. I give daily; I cuddle and gift and consider daily. I offer words of affirmation and gentleness daily. I expect absolutely the same in return. Daily. Because love is our birthright; it is armour and it is the only gentleness in an otherwise devastating world. If we had more of it, this world would be far kinder on our souls.
Now. 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’s because I’ve not experienced it. Maybe I’d love nothing more than a man with Cheetos 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!
But note that today, at the age of 49, and not yet having been married, I will start where you were at 25 and just about to get married. I’m not 20+ years into a marriage and suddenly looking down the barrel of another 30 on top of that, like almost every single one of my friends. All but one, fucking miserable. All but one resigned to the fact that there is no more spark or fun, not even a hint. I am nauseous by the thought.
Me, I still get to look forward to the luxury of heat and excitement and both the want and the need to touch my man every second I possibly can and in the most appropriate places at the worst possible time when everyone is around. That’s what I want. It’s what I will get. And it is the tradeoff; you have your families and routine and children. I don’t. So I get to have as target explosive chemistry instead. I get to wish for and be excited about the man who can’t keep his eyes and hands off of me, the one who knows precisely what to say to make me blush starting today, and every day ahead. inshAllah.
Me, I get to look forward to playtime all the time. With the occasional quiet. But ruling my world are fun, softness, and sex. I will not become bored of anyone, because I simply don’t have the time to do so. Not at this age. alhamduliLaah.
Right. 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. I actually don’t care if you’ve been married for 5, 15, or 25 years. Life is long. And to sit in a place for the sake of comfort alone? Just writing that out makes me panic.
If you need outside static, and can’t pause to do nothing except be with this individual, 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? In Islam, if you don’t have sex with your partner for three months, you’re technically considered divorced. This is how critical it is.
I want a man who I physically can’t move away from. Like every time we’re in the room, I want to find myself next to him without even realizing what happened or how I got there. I want that invisible pull of chemistry that is Allah’s voice pointing the way. I want to come home to him every day after work and pull him in for snuggles quietly onto the couch without saying a word so that both of our batteries can recharge.
I want to pull him to me on our couch while we watch horror movies and eat pizza. I don’t want to not touch him when we are next to one another. The f.ck is the point of having a partner if you’re not actually partnering with them?
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 believe once you detach from a lover, there is no reattachment. Hurts run too deep and few are truly able to let go and move forward.)
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 and laugh with and play with and have fun with?
And if this is not the case, why are you still in this relationship? Don’t you believe that you deserve to be loved to your full capacity, and that you deserve to love to your greatest capacity? Don’t you believe that they deserve these things too?
Am I lunatic to think that we should do double duty to keep things adventurous and sexy and fun and imaginative? That we have to find the courage to demand more for ourselves, even if that means upheaval from the comfort of what we know, in order to meet this demand?
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. I want to give every part of me to my lover, so you had better believe that my standards are through the f.cking roof.
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 very sad and 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?