Don’t lose your relationship and your socks.

My parents in Holland, earlier times.

My parents in Holland, earlier times.

According to Alain de Botton, your smelly socks play a larger role in the permanency of your relationship than romantically floating on the Danube while immersed in a bath filled with rose petals. He confronts the hugely popular romantic notion of ‘falling’ in love and living happily ever after. I must say, it intrigues me no end how people can stay in a mono-relationship all their lives.

There are a few that we know but they are mainly in our direct family backgrounds of numerous brothers and sisters from both of us. Outside our own direct background the wedding gondola is listing dangerously and littered with corpses of failed relationships. Mind you, there is a new theory out that a relationship hasn’t necessarily failed just because one or both wanted out. Even so, when a relationship is at the start and still blindingly starry-eyed and way over the top, that most proclaim eternal love and devotion to each other. Psychopaths are seen as Saints. To fall in love is a most dangerous situation. Get out of it. Get real.

According to Alain de Botton; the banana skin on the doorstep of declared love is that we see in each other things that are just not there. We want to see them. Alas, it is all a fata morgana. The things that are there and real are not seen. We think the other is perfect and so does the opponent. The man forgives the woman who lingers longingly in front of the High Fashion shop and he feels it rather cute. The woman likewise, when he seems to swear at other drivers or watches football all the time. She thinks ‘boys are boys.’ We only see perfection and can’t understand nor are willing to see, how this notion of love is blind and certainly foolish.

Of course, blind love is fed by cinema and books. With us, even right from the beginning, any sign of romantic love and H and I bolt out. The first whiff of a lingering look of real love or a wafting of underarm brutish man, and we are out, running along Bong Bong Road to Woollies car-park, glad to have made it in one piece. By mistake we switched on the ABC News too early last night only to be confronted with the Nigella Lawson now famous sideway glance while cooking a sponge cake. No better example of false charm and allure.

The thing that Alain de Botton points out is that we are all imperfect. In fact, we are broken. We are the result of genes and our own imperfect parental upbringing, totally hopeless when confronted with relationship and marriage. Instead of seeking love we should really get an understanding of own faults first. Try and be the normal obnoxious self when finally confronting a suitable partner. Show her/him your true self. Be honest and don’t move your jaw or flex your pectoral. Hard as it is, don’t believe your partner is all that lovely either. Both are broken. Work on being happy and try and enjoy grey. Do things together and expect fights and making good. It is not for everyone. A good relationship is one that goes on regardless of itself. It is surprising how the years go by. You fight and love, and fight and love.
That’s the secret.
51alYWDUUGL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_oosterman treats

Here a few things from Alain de Botton on love.

“Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won’t find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species.”
― Alain de Botton, On Love

“We are all more intelligent than we are capable, and awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease.”
― Alain de Botton, On Love

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26 Responses to “Don’t lose your relationship and your socks.”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    So very true, Mr O.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Many a relation ship has floundered on the rocky shores of ‘true love,’ Yvonne.
      I would not like to give a dollar for each man in front of a wigged judge sobbing away, while facing an assault, or worse, murder charge proclaiming; ‘I really and truly loved her.’

      Liked by 1 person

  2. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Love is blind or so they say. If it weren’t for human frailties I reckon most marriages would last a life time. Now days people are not so prone to work things out or go to counseling. It’s a new day and a new time for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oh, Ivonne. Marriage counsellor is a profession I really let slip by. What rich pickings of human insight I have missed. A great pity, but I am catching up and have my finger on the marital pulse of many a couple amongst friends and acquaintances.

      Just recently my ears pricked up when coming across a sad case of someone confessing his ‘real’ love. In public too, without any consideration of it being witnessed by victims of the very falsehood he was proclaiming.

      Love is found when you hardly notice it. It is rare but most common amongst those who shop together at Aldi. A caring partner might show this by holding the shopping bag open for the items to be put in, or anticipating the butter-milk to share the frozen chicken in a cooler bag. Little things like that is love. If ‘true’ or not is yet to be seen in the future, but those signs of sharing the shopping trolley are also a good omen and gives one hope.

      Liked by 2 people

      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        I must agree with you about husband and wife shopping together. I’ve seen this in the grocery aisles. Older couples shopping together is a real treat for sore eyes.


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, shopping together often rekindles good times of the past. I remember being in Chile’s Santiago shopping with Helvi many years ago. As we were strolling along, I suffered a desperate bout of intestinal hurry. It might well have been the previous night’s dish of mussels. In any case, being near a chemist, we both explained the problem with a bit of Spanish and hand-pumping movements, accompanied with reasonable auditory imitation of sitting on a toilet.
        We were sold the medicine to help our walk along as good as possible. A joint shopping trip never forgotten.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Big M Says:

    Yes, one soon learns that those images of one’s lover with windswept hair in a bikini disappear. Doing the dishes and wiping the shower screen seem to help!

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Big M. Recently my H has pointed out an item that over 50 years of solid marital bliss I have yet to conquer. It is rinsing the plates and cups after having used them. I am slack in this practise. To be fair, I do the washing up and love getting my hands in the soapy water.

      No, it is a matter of great importance that I follow this routine and really a battle of principle. H demonstrated the procedure but my mind wanders, Big M. I am not a routine man.

      By the time I carry the plate and cup to the sink with earnest intention to rinse first, my thoughts have escaped this intention and travelled elsewhere. Helvi watches me and jumps to the sink in time to remind me of this promised rinse first duty.

      It is odd, but those little domestic flare-ups have to be treated with respect and consideration.

      I knew a man whose wife divorced him because he would hang socks on the washing line the wrong way with the peg holding the socks up by the toes instead of by the neck.


      • Big M Says:

        Yes, Gez, I’m constantly puzzled as to the reason that Mrs M can’t place the peelings straight into the little compost container as she peels. She prefers to leave the peelings all over the counter, to be picked up later. I only questioned her once. The flair up wasn’t worth it. I now choose to overlook it, just as she overlooks my considerable faults!

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        I rarely peel, Big M. Don’t tell H, but I get those red potatoes in my bakes and just slice them, peel and all are layered together with leeks, onions and anything else that gets rescued from the bottom of the fridge.
        You are a champ for allowing the peelings to be left for later pick ups. A good sign, and I place you and your lovely B in my little booklet of long and everlasting love couple.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Big M Says:

    Of course, the only thing worse than lost love is unrequited love, as Puddles points out:

    Bear with him, he takes a while to get going!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Trinity Says:

    True love is out there; it grows out of realism in a relationship – by that, I mean that both parties are willing to be known for who they are, strengths and weaknesses, warts and wrinkles alike. I’ve been married to my best friend for 23 years. When we first got married, everyone warned us about the “one-year mark”, and then the 7th year… we sailed over both of those ominous benchmarks with our eyes wide open, scratching our heads & laughing at the nonsense. I think they are more or less self-fulfilling prophesies… if people expect problems at the 1st and 7th anniversaries, they will be looking for them, and surely find them, because we are all flawed… we might as well admit to it and get on with improving ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Trinity,

      We are all orphans together in this sea of relationships. Some make it, others keep looking and hope to find the true one. Others are happy never to be in love or out of it. It is complicated and many books are bought about the subject.

      I think doing domestic chores is the binder that glues many couples together. I have taken to it lately with renewed gusto. I can’t just sit on the computer all day.

      The first thing, after sharing coffee, I take out a large swabber. It is meant to do tiled or wooden floors. It has a foot with swivel action, so gets in all the crooks and crannies. After doing the floors and picking up dog hairs and dust, I go outside and give it a good shaking. With the right angle of sunlight on it, it never ceases to amaze me how much dust seems to land on everything.

      We have double glazing and fly screens on all doors and windows. I ask Helvi; ‘where does the dust come from?’ She shakes her head, and ponders with me in total unison and amazement. Moments like these are the stuff of good relationship.

      Who would have though. A large swabber!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. gerard oosterman Says:

    “The master, the swabber, the boatswain, and I,
    The gunner, and his mate,
    Loved Mall, Meg, and Marian, and Margery,
    But none of us cared for Kate;
    For she has a tongue with a tang,
    Would cry to a sailor, Go hang!
    She loved not the savour of tar nor of pitch;
    Yet a tailor might scratch her where’er she did itch.
    Then, to sea, boys, and let her go hang!”

    The master, the swabber. by Shakespeare.


  7. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Like the last quote best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Alain de Botton makes it all clear. We watched him being interviewed on TV. Most impressive. We seek perfection in others and somehow think and hope our faults and failures are so well hidden, they won’t get noticed.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. shoreacres Says:

    What’s amusing in what de Botton says is that it applies even more widely than to romance. I’m thinking especially of, “we see in each other things that are just not there. We want to see them. Alas, it is all a fata morgana. The things that are there and real are not seen. We think the other is perfect and so does the opponent.”

    Quite apart from partisanship, this phenomenon has become increasingly evident in our recent presidential elections. People fall in love with candidates, and can’t judge their strengths and weaknesses with any kind of realism. It’s the one place where real equality exists, at least in our country. Whether people have fallen in love with Clinton or Trump, there are disappointments ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Linda. You are right it doesn’t just apply to romance or love. It can just about be applied to everything. Disappointment is often the price we pay by the nurturing of hope.
      Our present Prime Minister a good example. We put qualities on people that are just not there. It is often the state of their presentation, the angle of their jaw, the way they walk or some other silly notion that we then use to feverishly fabricate an image. What is lacking is the elusive ‘real.’

      Liked by 1 person

  9. auntyuta Says:

    I think we go through different stages in a marriage. Some may marry or live together just for companionship or doing things together, being there for each other. Others when they fall in love (physical attraction) may marry in the hope of starting a family. Some become good parents naturally, others may have trouble in successfully combining children, love and marriage. With children in the family couples have to adopt a completely new life-style. Things change again once the children leave home. There may come a time when grand-children play an important part in the relationship. A lot depends too, whether husband and wife both have a job and whether they have sufficient time for each other. If they cannot work out a pleasant distribution of all the things they have to do or may want to do, one or the other may become frustrated. wanting to get out of the marriage or looking for a new and more exciting partner. All this may become important in finding out about the substance of the marriage and whether it is going to last.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. gerard oosterman Says:

    There is a lot there, Aunty Uta.

    With a fifty percent failure rate, I am surprised Consumer Affairs haven’t put a stop to it. 😉 If it was a fridge, it would be withdrawn for sale, or at the least, would not get a single consumer’s report to recommend it. How many stars would it get?

    I suppose, your remark about having a good friendship and companionship is as good as anything. A huge thing in our relationship is that both of us can make each other laugh. H. has the most infectious laugh and it comes so easy. Laughter is the WD 40 in so much of life, despite the tragedies or failures.

    Of course, we also are very capable of making each other cry, but the laughter usually wins out. As for romantic love; I leave that to Hollywood, and starry starry night.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Ah, but the disease is worth it, Gerard. I am glad to have fallen in love and experienced that hopelessly silly feeling. Not that a touch of reality isn’t important. I support long engagements or living together for a while, and definitely putting off having kids. The latter is the kicker. All relationships take work, however. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  12. berlioz1935 Says:

    A good post, Gerard. To turn a love story into a long relationship both partners must have something that glues them together.

    It is like the atoms of Hydrogen and Oxygen where the electrons form the bond that makes a molecule out of three atoms. It also proves, that often one has to bring more glue than the other. And isn’t water an amazing substance that sustains life here on Earth.

    We must be able to tolerate in the other what we would not tolerate in ourselves. It is best not to look when the other does his / her thing or laugh about it.

    The stress of daily life can be poison for any relationship. In this modern age, we have ben told that we are individuals and we don’t have to take shit from anybody.

    We have learnt habits that are infuriating to others but they are in itself harmless. What does it matter which way we hang our socks or how we add salt to the stew.

    Romantic love is a beautiful thing. It creates its own reality. For the lovers it is real and outside the lovers own bubble the world does not exist.


  13. gerard oosterman Says:

    Good comment Berlioz. It seems that many relation ships sail past rocky shores where sea depths haven’t as yet been plumbed or if done, sandbanks have shifted.
    It is tricky but some survive.


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