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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tipping

We all know about the straw that broke the camel's back. A straw is too light to break anything but because even a straw carries some weight (else it would float), when it is added to the top of a very heavy pile on the camel's back, the weight sends the scales tipping one way and down goes the camel.

Breaking point, in short. Or better yet, known as Tipping Point (coined by the famous writer Malcom Gladwell). Usually a series of small and seemingly unimportant events that put together, lead up to THE crash.

I told my CEB yesterday quite bluntly, my view on the difference between a wife and a mother. A mother loves you no matter what, because her blood runs through your veins and you are a reflection of her upbringing of you. If you are a beast to her, she would blame herself and not you because you are that way either by nature or nurture, both of which she had a hand.

A wife on the other hand, has promised to love you but still has the right, lawfully and ethically, to stop loving you and walk away when you've quite completely and literally, bashed every single last drop of love in the love bank with a fist to her face, or just as cruelly, a fist to her heart/soul.

Now, my mother-in-law was the one who made the above very clear to me over dinner. Not in those words of course. She told me never to complain about her son because I had chosen him whereas she hadn't any choice but to love him. My mother also told me that once I was "married out", I should never come running back to my childhood home but work things out with whoever I'd given myself to. No doubt these were "pearls of wisdom" bestowed upon them during an era long gone where women were dependent on men, but nonetheless, all this has, together with the past 3 months of marriage life (blissful for the most part it has been), made me think very hard and long about my choice 3 months ago, and about the person I'd chosen to marry. And before God, family and friends no less.

My CEB is relatively easy to love, don't get me wrong. It is just that I am finally learning that love is one thing but marriage is another thing altogether. The "we love each other so let's get married and live forever happily ever after" is bullsh*t. Marriage is hard work and love doesn't get the work done. It motivates you to pull your weight to do the work but without respect, support, encouragement, appreciation or acknowledgement, you end up dropping the ball or just not caring any more.

And the biggest difference between love and marriage is that love can be happily one-sided, but for a marriage to succeed - that can't happen without both pitching in.

So how does my long ramble above tie in with the start of the post about the straw that broke the camel's back? I guess I'm finding out that in any relationship, especially a marriage, the little things really count and...not just count but add up at the end of the day. And although one tries to forgive and forget, every "little" tiff/spat/quarrel, every angry, thoughtless, harsh, and worse, mean, words goes towards adding just a bit more weight on the provincial camel's back, pushes the relationship just this bit closer to the edge of the cliff. There is always a choice how to react - play the blame game and make the other feel worse, or pitch in to fix the problem and have a constructive talk later. And there is a consequence tied to each decision.

In short, how we choose to react, say to each other, do for each other, while seemingly small/unimportant, brings the relationship either closer to or further from the edge of this cliff. And then all that is needed is that little straw, or just a light tap before the camel crumbles or one tumbles off the cliff.

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