Monday, February 20, 2006

You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore...

VALENTINE'S DAY was a bit of a non-event this year in the Allan household.

While previously we have celebrated with a nice home-cooked meal or a delivered bunch of flowers, this year we somehow managed to forget the whole thing- despite the plethora of red hearts and roses in every shop window.
As the most romantic day of the year dawned, we sat side by in the side in the car on the way to work and laughed when we realised we were both as bad as each other in the romance stakes.
In a show of extreme non-bitterness I serenaded himself with a dazzling rendition of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" and went about my way, only occasionally staring at the office door longing for a special delivery.
When work ended I went home to my wee man (himself being up the country working) and the closest I got to mad romance was a snuggle with a two year old who offered me one of his mad open mouthed slabbery kisses.
Himself came home a few hours later, bearing a shiny new Tesco bag which contained, or so I hoped, a box of expensive chocolates, some champagne and a perhaps a single red rose. Sadly my hopes were shattered when I found it merely to contain a Pot Noodle for his tea- not the most obvious gesture of love and affection.
Having officially moved out of the newlywed category (we married five years ago in May), I wondered if the magic is simply slipping from our relationship?
After all a survey this week said, rather gloomily I hasten to add, that married bliss lasts a mere 12 months. After that the embers cool, the magic fades and all that awaits is a lifetime of drudgery and complaining about her or him indoors.
Even more worrying is that, according to the authors, somewhere between year three and five (so slap bang where me and the Mr. are right now) we are supposed to experience a final resurgence of love before it all heads downhill again- this time for keeps.
I dread to think what's ahead of me next year then if this year was to be our final flurry at love- Perhaps some supernoodles or a cup-a-soup?
Then again I'm not quite sure those responsible for the report are right. After all, if marriage is a big old disappointment after year one then how do you explain those millions of couples who make it to their Silver weddings anniversaries and beyond?

Being the old romantic that I am, I believe that love- and marriage in particular- is best founded on friendship- one that can wax and wane but which will ultimately have moments of love and passion no matter if you have been together a week or a half century.
I'm very lucky in the that my parents have always shown me an example of how a marriage should work. Sometimes, admittedly, that has involved shouting at each other and a certain degree of door slamming, but mostly the message I've learned from their relationship is marriage can be the most amazing thing on the planet- if only you bother your hump to work at it.
You see I'm not naive enough to think that over the last 31 years of marriage they have not contemplated, on several occasions, putting some arsenic in each other's cuppa, but I know they are still quite firmly in that "happily married" bracket.
They have learned, over the passage of time, to ignore those little things that niggle, to enjoy the things that make them happy and to remember that marriage really is for better or worse and anyone who tells you there should never be any worse is talking through their rear.
I think our society has just become so disposable these days that so many people think it's okay to bin something if it isn't quite in perfect working order anymore.
I'm shocked at just how disposable marriage has become. That doesn't mean I'm enamoured with the way himself leaves his stinking socks on the bedroom floor expecting them to magically fly to the laundry hamper. I hate the way he leaves coffee rings from his cups on the desk, worktops and tables. His inability to look after Joseph and do anything remotely resembling housework rankles- as indeed does the Pot Noodle for Valentine's Day incident- but my marriage isn't disposable in that way.
It struck me, as I waited for my card and my flowers, as I joked all day with himself about the lack of passion in our relationship, as we sang that Neil Diamond song to each other, that the real love is not in the giving of gifts (although I'll never turn one down) but in the fact we are comfortable sometimes just to be together and we know what to say or do to raise a smile or a laugh from each other.
And we aren't doing too badly if every day, after nine years together and five years of marriage, we still say "I love you" and still get that urge to talk to each other sometimes just to hear that familiar voice on the end of the line.
Sure, Emily Bronte may never write a novel about our all encompassing passion- and they'll never rename St. Valentine's Day as The Allan's Day in honour of our great love but I'm sure when all is said and done, five years from now and for longer there will still be some magic in our marriage.

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