Wednesday July 25, 2012
Changing with the times
Sights and sounds
By XANDRIA OOI
WOMEN marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed” — Albert Einstein.
Albert Einstein may not have been a relationship expert, but you don’t call him a genius for nothing.
I’ve heard this age-old saying numerous times, usually brought up jokingly in conversations when my friends and I talk about relationships.
For years now, I’ve been taking the saying literally. I believed that part of the problem with many relationships was due to the fact that women tend to expect men to change — grow and improve with time; while men expect their woman to remain the same — be as sweet and considerate as when they first got married.
Lately however, I’ve come to think that perhaps it wasn’t the hoping our partners will or will not change that is the issue. Rather, it was the acceptance or lack thereof of change.
Regardless of whether each party in the relationship expect the other to change or remain the same, the matter of the fact is that it is impossible not to change.
I believe that we are changing every minute of the day. The changes may be subtle while others are more obvious, but they are happening.
Change is a culmination of everyday experiences, the people we meet and what inspires or disgusts us.
It’s the funny incident that happened at work, or the horrible traffic we were stuck in and all the seemingly inconsquential experiences in our lives.
Depending on how our day went, we’d come home with a smile or frown on our face. The person walking in the door is not exactly the same as the one who walked out this morning.
When you watch old movies, you’ll often come across scenes of the husband arriving home going, “Hi honey! I’m home!” followed by a conversation that starts with “how was your day?”
As old-fashioned as it may seem, “how was your day?” is probably one of the most important questions we can ask our partner in the 21st century.
Sometimes, we’re just too tired to ask. Or listen. Besides, there’s always tomorrow to catch up.
When both parties in the relationship are working, sometimes the last thing we want to is rehash everything that happened through the day.
It’s too tiresome and dreary. We’d rather watch TV, do the laundry, surf the net — anything except talk.
Yet, if I think about it, at the beginning of every relationship, when it’s new and fresh, we’d spend hours talking regardless of how tired we feel from work.
Long chats on the phone, over dinner and a constant stream of messages well into dawn.
If there was even the slightest shift in his mood, you’d know. If something bad, funny or exciting happened in his day, you’d know.
You would never be as connected to another human being as you are to the person you are falling in love with.
The challenge, especially for us in the 21st century, is how do we remain as connected to our partner years down the line?
Are we always going to be doomed to be less interested in a person over time?
Less observant of them?
Compliments that used to flow so freely dry up like an old well. If hairstyle changes and new clothes go unnoticed, what hope do we have of knowing how our partner has changed on the inside — in their heart and head?
I just received news that my friend is divorcing her husband after less than a year of being married.
He’s the sort of fellow whom you would use words like ‘nice’ and ‘sweet’ to describe. The kind of guy who has little or no desire to be in the rat race.
What gives him most joy is being with my friend and having her in his life. He would get up early to make breakfast for her even if he doesn’t have to leave for work until a few hours after her.
They dated for six years before they got married and lived together for four. Their marriage is not working out because she did not feel that he was the kind of guy she’d want to spend the rest of her life with.
He was perfect in every way, yet she wanted something different — a man who was more ambitious, who knew what he wanted in life instead of just having a career that was just convenient.
At this point, you might think, “After so many years of being together, she only realised that now?!”
My friend didn’t expect her husband to change. She knew exactly who she married.
What she also did not expect was that she would change. She had a new job, a new circle of friends and growing at a rate that was not parallel to his.
The idea of being permanently attached to someone who seemed increasingly different from her changing thoughts and ideas scared her.
Jane Hor, a Geomancy Consultant, was a guest on Talk of the Town aired over Capital FM 88.9, said during the interview, “Some people are not meant to be married.”
“It’s better for some people to just be together with their partner and not formalise it. If they sign the papers, their relationship will be ruined.”
This was based on each person’s individual bazi, the Four Pillars analysis of feng shui where it takes into account the year, month, day and time of when you were born.
Even if you don’t subsribe to feng shui, it is undeniable that some people work better in relationships than in marriage.
They can live with their partner for years on end, but things fall apart the moment they get married.
I would rather like to think that I am in control of my thoughts and decisions, as opposed to having destiny pre-determine it for me.
Yet, I can’t help but agree that much of our make-up drives our thought processes and the decisions we end up making.
For example, a guy friend of mine is getting a divorce after two years of marriage.
His wife needed him to be “more ambitious”. As much as I empathise with him, I could see what she meant, simply because all my friends feel the same about a man whom we think lack ambition.
This is definitely a time of pride for women worldwide, where we can have both a career and a family.
I can’t help but feel a bit sad for us womenfolk.
Perhaps we have such high expectations of ourselves that we need our partners to be just as ambitious or more.
The women who pioneered the path for where we now tread — women now in their 60s, 70s and 80s — knew that the only way to make it as a woman in business was to act exactly like a man.
In the 21st century, that sometimes spill into our relationships.
Some women are the breadwinners and many are the more ambitious of the two.
Einstein really did know what he was talking about back then, but it needs some 21st century tweaking.
Men are changing, but perhaps not in the direction that is conventional or in line with what we consider ‘manly’ change.
The thing is, if men can accept us women being more independent and ambitious — the more masculine traits, then we should be able to appreciate our men being more considerate, sweet and thoughtful — the more feminine traits.
Women seem to want it all, but are we sure about what exactly it is that we want?