Love Rules: It’s not always good to talk
Cliche #3: It’s good to talk
I must make one thing clear: I love my wife. I love her new orange t-shirt. I love her obsession with the picnic. But I don’t tell her I love her, partly because it’s hard to feel love every day, and partly because I fear she’d take advantage. (“I love you,” I’d say. “Great,” she’d reply, “Can you mow the lawn?”) And yet we read some love advice this week which said: “Tell them you love them, every day.” She actually got quite angry about that one. “You don’t tell me you love me every day!” she accused. It made me notice that some love advice is dangerous. At the very least, it’s superficial, and open to be misinterpreted.
No one tells you, that, at some point in your love affair, a crisis will occur which will make you feel misunderstood and trapped. For me, it happened this week. It was Tuesday, 11 52 pm, I entered the bedroom, I saw dog wee on the carpet, I swore. Now… standard advice says: “Talk about your feelings.” But that only helps matters if you’re saying: “I feel our love has entered a new vibrant phase!” Not if you’re saying: “There’s bloody dog wee on the floor!” Which is what I said. Prompting my wife to speak eloquently of her feelings of frustration: she’d been in her nice quiet bedroom, and I’d entered and started swearing.
I realised, to my horror, that an argument had blown up, like a summer fire in the forest. “Never go to sleep on an argument,” says the love advice. Trouble is… each attempt to patch up the argument, lead to it flaring up again. “It wasn’t me who peed on the floor!” I protested. “You think it’s artistic to swear!” she shouted. “You think people will love you for it!” Now, call me repressed if you will, but I didn’t feel it was the moment to have a trenchant analysis of my character. I fled the room. After we’d had the most middle class fight in the history of violence: she hit me on the shoulder, with a mug of cold camomile tea.
I slept the night in the spare room, and in the morning we made up. She entered. She said: “Sorry about last night.” I said: “I’m sorry” and I passed her a coffee. That was it. We didn’t speak of our feelings. We didn’t declare our love. But it was enough, and actually it was all consistent with my new Love Rules which declare: (1) For God’s sake, do go to sleep on an argument. (It’ll be better in the morning). (2) Don’t talk about your feelings (unless they’re positive). And (3) you don’t have to declare your love every day: just try and do one thing they’ll actually like.
Which she did, incidentally. She gave me an egg, done just the way I like it. (Poached, on buttered granary toast). That was the most eloquent egg I ever saw. It positively sung. I enjoyed every delicious mouthful, and then I went out, and – amorously, heroically – I mowed the lawn.
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