Category Archives: Relationships

My personal Adonis (a short story)

I shouldn’t be doing this. But here I am – rifling through his bathroom cabinet. They say you can tell a lot about a man from his choice of pharmaceuticals, but I’m not sure that’s really the scenario in my case. Besides hair gel, a toothbrush, toothpaste and two deodorant cans, I’ve actually learnt nothing new. That should teach me.

I place everything back as I found it and close the cabinet door. A quick peek out the bathroom door confirms that he is still sound asleep. The rumpled duvet covers lie half on the floor, half on the bed and my Adonis is lying on his back, spread-eagled. A sliver of the sheet covers his waist. It actually reminds me of the children’s bible story illustrations of Adam and Eve with a fig leaf over their private parts. That makes me smirk a little as I admire him from my bathroom door vantage point. He really is magnificent: sandy blonde tousled hair, tanned skin, a surfer’s physique.

The thing is, other than how he looks (and now the contents of his bathroom cabinet), I actually know nothing about him. What I do know is that a rowdy girls’ night out last night has, given my current precarious situation, not ended quite as planned.

It’s easier to blame someone other than yourself, so I blame Brendon, my long-time boyfriend of seven years. I conclude that his cheating shenanigans are directly responsible for where I am right now. We are – were – high-school sweethearts; the cliqued perfect couple. After being together for so long, I wanted a ring on my finger to seal the deal.  Yet Brendon was hesitant. Evasive even. I just didn’t understand why. We loved each other, had a stable relationship – so why then? I got the answer I didn’t want when Brendon’s recent activities were uncovered. He had met some girl at work and had been out with her several times. Apparently enough times to have moved the relationship to the bedroom! His explanation included a feeble excuse that because we had met so young, both of us had never really ‘experienced’ different relationships. He begged my forgiveness, but now it was my turn to be hesitant.

A night out on the town was determined by my girlfriends as the best therapy for a philandering boyfriend. Led by our one and only single friend, I allowed myself to be dragged out instead of comfort eating in my pyjamas in front of the TV. Not that I would’ve admitted it, but it was actually quite fun to dress up and act like a single, carefree woman again. My red party heels were pulled out from the back of my cupboard and my favourite fitted jeans donned. Topped with a splash of red colour on my lips and nails, I felt exciting and daring. Alas, the last thing I can confidently recall was swigging down the umpteenth shooter in some smoky club. Where I am right now, how I got here and with whom, I regrettably have no recollection of.

I decide to brazenly do the only thing a girl can do in this circumstance: I mentally channel the image of a stealthy ninja and make a grab for Adonis’ cell phone. Thankfully, no password and I’m in. A perusal of his text messages conclude that, while he is affectionately termed ‘Bud’ by his friends, I’m positive it’s not his name. Another bust it seems.

There’s something to be said of the cruel light of day, and now, as my bravado wanes and the Nancy Drew in me withers, I start to panic. Its morning. I want to go home. Now.

I scramble to gather my clothes, my cell phone and purse and head straight for the exit. I admit that I’m prone to acting first without thinking it through. True to form, only once I’m out the front door do I stop to contemplate my next move. I have one plausible option: phone my BFF Tina. Damn, my cell phone is turned off. Fumbling, I power it up again and, ignoring the flashing red light that signals my battery is about to die, I dial Tina’s number. She answers on the first ring. No pleasantries. Her first words are a half concerned, half irritated question: “Maddie, what the hell happened?”

I feel a big lump rising in my throat and the last of my composure crumbles. I manage to whimper, “Geez Tina, you tell me! I woke up in some strange guy’s bed. I feel …”. I let the words slide. Nothing can accurately describe how I feel right now. She mutters some profanity under her breath. “Ok, ok. Where are you? I’ll come pick you up”.

Another thing I don’t know it seems. I walk a bit further from the spot I’m standing in, turn the corner and see the main gate to the street. A car is driving out the complex and I make an ungainly dash for the gate. I silently thank the municipality for erecting a large street sign about 200 metres up the road. I tell Tina the street name. As the resourceful heroine she always is, she orders me to stay put and wait for her. “You can’t be far, I’ll plug the street name into my GPS. I’m on my way.”

Barefoot, holding my shoes in one hand, my hair dishevelled and my eye make-up smudged, I conclude that I must be a glorious sight to behold! I’m sure Tina thinks the same thing as I climb into her trusty Polo fifteen minutes later. During the animated ride home she manages to fill in a few of my self-inflicted memory gaps and tells me that she left before me last night as she had to get up early this morning. When she tried to phone me and her calls went straight to voicemail, Tina phoned one of our other friends to find out how things went. She found out that the girls had left me at the club with a friendly guy – hopefully the same one I woke up to this morning – when I insisted I didn’t want to go home and they should leave without me. It explains some of what has transpired, but not who my Adonis is and what happened after their departure. Perhaps this is one event I should really try to forget instead of trying to remember.

With much cursing and consoling, Tina finally drops me at home and leaves me alone on condition that I promise to phone her later on in the day. My first point of business is to make a cup of my favourite tea and take a hot shower.

I charge up my phone to check my text and voice messages. In addition to the harried messages from Tina, I have a long-winded message from Brendon. He says he loves me and asks if we can meet to talk things through. He also states emphatically that he believes it would be a huge mistake if I just end our relationship so easily after one foolish indiscretion. Characteristically Brendon – always trying to control the state of affairs and minimise the damage.

I’m contemplating whether I want to call Brendon back after so much has transpired, when my phone rings. I don’t recognise the number but I answer anyway.

“Maddie?” an unfamiliar voice asks.
“Yes.”
“Maddie, my name is Jeff.  We met at the club last night?”
I remain silent.
“You left your watch at my place.”
I balk. Oh boy, this must be my Adonis. Did I really give him my number?
He clears his throat, “You could’ve woken me up. I would’ve taken you home you know.” Now I hear a soft rumble as he tries to contain a chuckle. I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed or angry.
“Why don’t I take you out for lunch today? I like you and we seem to have tons of stuff in common. Based on your quick escape this morning though, I think I might’ve scared you off. How about we start over?”
I think about it and after a short pause, I hear myself say “Ok”. Surprisingly, I am ok with it.
“Oh, and by the way Maddie, we didn’t sleep together if that’s what you were wondering. You were a little wasted and I couldn’t get your address out of you. So I took you back to my place to sleep it off.”
“But you were naked!” I blurt out.
He laughs. “I sleep in the buff.  See you in an hour.”

I’m smiling now – a big goofy grin that crinkles the corners of my eyes. He sounds like a ‘nice guy’ and I sure could do with a ‘nice guy’ around about now. Maybe there is a life after Brendon?  I’m sure I’ll figure it out, but it’s one step at time. This is my first step – and it’s out the door to meet my personal Adonis. Adios Brendon.

~ A short story by Sherrie Dyer-Bracher

Stressed out and strung out. Now what?

Stress does funny things to a person.  A person’s health and emotional well-being. To relationships. Sure, a little stress is good – motivating even. It can be a needed kick in the pants to help us re-focus and rise to the occasion.  But too much stress … it throws that delicate balance out of sync – and the results can be disastrous.

Run a Google search on “stress” and the first site that jumps up on the screen makes the bold statement of “Don’t let stress hijack your life”.  A profound statement in itself, because stress really and truly can “hijack” a person’s life.

StressWhile it remains to be said that stress comes in all shapes and forms, stressors affect each and every person in a different way.  What’s stressful to me may not be that stressful to you.  Yet, whatever those stressors may be, stress overload can result in a variety of health conditions.  For instance, high blood pressure, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and asthma, amongst other conditions.  Emotionally, things get more complex.  Now we’re talking about insomnia, loss of libido, difficulty relaxing, low self-esteem and depression, agitation, moodiness and frustration.  Such symptoms can also lead to a cache 22 scenario, for example, suffering from insomnia because due to stress will mean a person is less likely to be able to handle stressful situations because of being sleep deprived.  And round and round we go.

And then there’s the ultimate cog in the wheel, the negative impact stress can have on relationships.   Some people will emerge as moody, easily agitated and short-tempered ogres, snapping at loved ones and being so impatient and intolerant that unintentionally loved ones are pushed away – or perhaps sent running for the hills in search of cover.  In short, the home may invariably become a war zone of disharmony and discontent which only worsens the situation.

StressI know that we can’t always control what will cause us stress.  Yet surely we can find ways to maximise what we actually can control?  Seizing power over the foothold stress has in our lives means learning to recognise its symptoms and finding out how to handle it.  I found the World of Psychology’s “10 Practical Ways to Handle Stress” very helpful.

The great thing about the Internet is that, thanks to the myriad of websites and blogs dedicated to the topic, the information to help us cope is at our figure tips.  Applying it in our own lives is, of course, the real challenge – but not necessarily a battle that cannot be won.

Is love a feeling or a choice?

Every living person craves it. Of course, some will deny it. Some still don’t understand it. Some even have a warped and twisted view of it, while others will live in pursuit of an elusive concept of it.

Consider it a warm and fuzzy feeling or a day-by-day choice, it remains the one thing in life that every living person wants in some form or another.  Love.

Whether it be love for another human being, for a partner, a parent, a child, a friend – we are all capable of love, although our translation of it may differ.  For me, romantic love has always been about ‘feelings’.  You know what I’m talking about:  that all-consuming feeling when you first meet a prospective partner, the way their touch can set your skin on fire, how a simple look can speak of a myriad of future promises … all those happy, excited and euphoric ‘feelings’ of being in love and of being loved.  For a person like me, a person who wears their heart on their sleeve, falling in love is actually quite easy.  But staying in love when the initial blaze has waned is a far harder task.

love-300x287Staying in love requires a directional movement from the conditional love square on the game board to the unconditional one.  Unconditional love is considered true love, and true love has staying power.  It means learning to love another person without expecting anything in return.  It also means putting the needs of that person above that of your own. For example, when you say your marriage vows, you pledge to commit to and love your partner for the rest of your days “until death do you part”. It doesn’t mean loving that person for as long as you still feel loved by them or until that person no longer gives you what you need.  I wonder how many people really know what they’re getting into when they pledge before God to honour, cherish and love their husband/wife for the rest of days?

When the light-hearted, seemingly easy side of love fades, a decision needs to be made.  That decision requires a bit more than just feeling like you love someone, it requires effort, hard work, commitment and an actual choice to love.  It may even require frequent reminders as to why and how to love.

I believe that most of us battle with unselfishly loving another person such as our partner. I know that I do.  I can go a step further and admit that I even battle to love myself; so trying to love another person unconditionally is far more complex that I would like it to be.

Luckily, while love is open to our own personal interpretation of it and is sadly influenced by past experiences and hurts, unconditional love has only one definition and one set of rules:

•   Love is patient and kind.

•   Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

•   Love does not demand its own way.

•   Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.

•   It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

•   Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

(1 Cor 13:4-7)

Office relationships: A born killer

I wonder if anyone has ever killed their spouse because of working together?

It’s been just over a month since I starting working with my husband, and even after such a short period of time, I can now fully understand how easy it is to have murderous thoughts.

There are couples who can mesh their home and work lives seamlessly and successfully, then there are couples who just can’t make both work simultaneously. I was hoping that the latter would not be true in our case, yet the signs are clearly on the wall.  Peace has grown wings and taken flight, leaving us to snarl, snap and bicker with each other at will.

Love aside

The problems we experienced with each other at home has cascaded into our working environment.  Only now I feel like there is no reprise, no space to escape and no time to gain any perspective.  We are in each other’s hair 24/7 with no distinction between work and play.

To reiterate, I do love my husband dearly. Although our relationship has been tumultuous and challenging from the get-go, it has been rewarding.  We have found – and continue to find – ways to make our personal relationship work despite our differences.  So, given that we are still exploring means and ways to live together harmoniously, I have to consider that perhaps I was too quick to think it would be plain sailing to also work together?

Bad timing has its own part to play.  While we’ve always talked about me coming to work in his business, we planned it for a year or two down the line.  The surprise of my retrenchment put a spanner in the works and bullied us into pushing our plans forward.  Subsequently, I’m convinced all of this has made my husband question his sanity in suggesting we work together in the first place!

Boundaries and truces

Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality (Photo credit: charlesfettinger)

I read somewhere that husbands and wives who work together have to apply the same rules that exist in their marriages to how they work together. For example, if the couple see each other as equal partners in the marriage, well then they have to be equal partners in the workplace – a manager/sub-ordinate relationship just wouldn’t work in this case.

Defining boundaries and setting the grounds for a mutually beneficial working experience is tantamount to success.

We didn’t do these things.  That leaves us having to take ten steps back in order to move a few steps forward again. I’m now on the verge of a new dilemma:  do I admit defeat and sell my soul by heading back into the corporate working world to save my marriage, or do I continue to try to make a success of our working arrangement which would mean having to wave the white flag and suck it up in the hope of things eventually getting better? This fork in the road is a new twist for sure; I only wish I had a crystal ball to make the choice easier.

Domestic goddess in the making

Since I’ve been at home a lot more, an interesting pattern has started to emerge.  For some reason my husband has been happier than usual. The reason why didn’t really register until recently i.e. I’m now playing the traditional role of a house wife.

When he wakes in the morning I am there to see him off to work with a cup of tea, and when he returns from the office in the afternoon I am there to greet him.  Dinner preparations are well underway, the dogs have been fed and the house is neat and tidy.  All he really has to do sit down and relax.

Young Housewife, Oil on canvas. The Russian Mu...

Young Housewife, Oil on canvas. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always been a bit of a homebody, so I find myself slipping quite comfortably into this role without too much of a fuss.  I think I’ve always been a traditional girl at heart too.  The whole biblical scenario of a woman staying at home to care for her family while the man goes out into the world to bring home the bread and butter, definitely has its merits in my opinion. After all, didn’t God create man to be stronger both physically and emotionally while the woman was created to be man’s companion – a softer, gentler version? Together the partnership is intended to be a win-win scenario.

Yet on the other end of the scale, I also believe that a woman has more than earned the right to be treated fairly and respectfully.  I don’t want to be defined by the man in my life; I want to choose my own path.  If that means choosing to stay at home and being a housewife, then so be it.

Contradictions

What a contradiction! Can I really be that arrogant to want the best of both worlds? No wonder men are confused as to how to treat a woman. We want to be treated like ladies and still expect a man to open the door for us, to pay for the bill on the first date, to move heavy objects and so on. In the same token, we want to be treated equally, to compete head-on with men in the job market, on the sports field and in the political arena.

I am the product of my environment:  a ‘mish-mash’ of  old-fashioned values and beliefs mixed with a healthy dose of  women’s equal rights to vote, to have a career, to have an active sex life, to choose whether or not to marry and whether or not to have children.  There is a generation of women out like me, so thankfully I’m not unique in this respect.

It’s the grey area in between; all we can do is to try and find a balance.  I’m enjoying my foray into the domestic goddess realm for the time being. But when I have to focus on my career again, it will be the delicate juggling act that most women encounter:  being a career woman, a wife, a homemaker and a mother – all-in-one!

How to stop cheating – the second instalment

Cheaters are selfish, self-absorbed and self-indulgent. Do I have the right to say any of these things? Oh yes, I do. As a former cheater, I think I am fully equipped to talk first-hand on the topic.

People cheat for different reasons

“We don’t have sex anymore”, “I’m lonely”, “He doesn’t understand me”, “We are always fighting” and so on. 

In my case, my feelings of rejection at being denied a child was my justification for cheating. One thing remains true for all cheaters though; a cheater is always looking for validation. If a cheater looks hard enough for reasons to corroborate why he/she cheated, believe me, those excuses can be found.  Even friends who mean well can help the cheater justify an affair.

The greatest deception stems from the belief that the person with whom the cheater engaged in an affair with is his/her true love and a fulfilling relationship can bud from the affair. It’s just another way us cheaters find some kind of silver lining in the whole tainted matter.

Having an affair is an exit from the existing relationship, it is a way to escape the problems of the current relationship, it is focusing solely on how you feel and putting your wants and needs before that of anyone else.  It is, most importantly, not an apt solution to any problem experienced in a relationship.

Stopping the bus

If you find yourself cheating or contemplating a relationship with someone other than your partner, how do you stop? A moving bus with bad brakes is hard to stop. The best way of course is to recognise what is happening before you find yourself knee-deep in a scenario you can’t get out of.  Here’s my advice:

  1. Before you embark on a relationship with another person, save yourself the unneeded complication by choosing to handle one relationship at a time. You can’t give yourself fully to two people at the same time.  If you really care about this other person, and he/she about you, then a little space can do no harm.  Besides, if it’s true love, another few months apart won’t make much of a difference right?
  2. So take a time out – not a week or two either – to focus on what you want, and to figure out if the current relationship can be saved or fixed. Marriage counselling or individual sessions with a therapist can go a long way in helping you to clear your mind and see things with a little more perspective. Don’t elude yourself into thinking that the new relationship won’t come with its own set of complications – perhaps worse than the existing relationship. Then what will you do, have another affair?
  3. You’ll be surprised at how quickly things can settle when you have no extra pressure from a second relationship on the go. If you’ve made up your mind and feel 100% certain that the current relationship cannot be spared, then at least its closure. Make a clean break and end the relationship with your partner first (move out, start the divorce proceedings, get your life back on track).
  4. Don’t jump into a full-blown committed relationship with the other person before the ink has even dried on your divorce papers!  Ending one relationship is traumatic enough and fraught with its own myriad of emotions.  Enjoy being single for a bit – even if you find yourself lonely and miserable. It’s all part of the experience and will pass in time. If you can’t stand not talking to the other person during this time, that’s fine. Just don’t move in together and spend every waking hour together. You need time to heal, to feel and to re-discover YOU.
  5. Time has passed, and you should feel semi-human again. If the other person is still on the scene and you feel ready to indulge some form of commitment, start from scratch:  start dating and getting to know the person all over again. Now that the excitement of sneaking around and trying not to be caught is out of the way, the filters are off and you can actually get to know this person the right way.  Odds are that the relationship will feel different and you may not be so enamoured with the person as before. But that’s a risk you have to take …

Why is the ‘chase’ just so thrilling?

I’m not sure what it is, but the thrill of the chase is a much coveted game between the sexes.  Ok, I lie; I too love a bit of mystery and a few breadcrumbs along the trail when in hot pursuit. 

By now you should have realised that I am an undercover psychologist.  I missed my true calling to be a clinical psychologist, but nevertheless I still love analysing the reasons behind why people do and act certain ways.

Man chasing woman

Image from billyspostcards.com

Relationship experts and psychologists seem to allude to a few elements that define why the chase is so exciting.  Ego and man’s natural competitive nature to desire the unattainable are high on the list.

In an article in the Huffington Post UK, “Men Really Do Prefer The Thrill Of The Chase, Say Scientists”, relationship expert Dr. Pam Spurr is quoted as saying that “almost everyone – men and women – put a certain added ‘value’ on to something that’s not easily attainable. This is why can feel so good to save up for something like a special dress or handbag – and when you get it just feels priceless”. Dr. Spurr says that “it’s the same with sex and the classic chase – many men find the chase exciting and it strikes their ego to feel they’re the one who is finally going to get her attention – and into bed. Add to this the fact that men are very goal focused and an elusive goal can seem all that much more interesting”.

I think this basically sums up the intentions behind the ‘thrill of the chase’.  Yet I would not be me if I didn’t seek out further viewpoints – so I decided to ask a few friends what they thought on the topic.  I posed these three questions to four different people and here are their thoughts:

Friend 1 (Male)

Why do you think men like the chase so much?
“I think it’s a well documented fact that men are “hunters” – it stands to reason then that they like the chase.”

What is the ultimate goal?
“The ultimate goal is to make the object of desire his own.”

What happens when the chase is over?
“The chase is never really over, it just changes context. I think the woman should always ensure that she keeps the man chasing…”

Friend 2 (Female)

Why do you think men like the chase so much?
“It is an instinctive behaviour, almost an animal instinct.  Men are programmed as the ‘hunters’, it is part of their identity to go out and acquire things, on a most basic level food, shelter, a partner; and as we evolved, men no longer have to physically hunt for food, they focus on other ‘hunting activities’ – women, wealth, status, power, adventure etc.”

What is the ultimate goal?
“In adolescence and early adult life, the chase is a learning process – what behaviour gets what sort of results, as men mature they now have the skills to ‘hunt’ for their life partner. To a large extent, men never stop the ‘hunting game’ – all men want the affirmation that they are capable of ‘chasing and capturing’ someone’s attention or heart.” 

What happens when the chase is over?
“For some this means moving into a new phase of life and settling down, building a home and working with their partners to fulfil their joint life goals.  For others, they lose interest and need the thrill of a new ‘chase’.”

Friend 3 (Male):

Why do you think men like the chase so much?
“I don’t think its limited to the male species. Maybe from an anthropological and evolutionary point of view it could be justified that because men were the hunters way back when we still express some of those prehistoric traits from our ancestors – but now more than ever the fairer sex from Generation Y are becoming more assertive more dominating.”

What is the ultimate goal?
”It’s all about asserting your dominance, scaling up  your ego, proving that you are more than even you think you are, or maybe playing up a fantasy hidden somewhere in the deepest darkest depths of your conscience. Also, let his be known no one ‘chases’ another person knowing that they won’t ‘get’ them.”

What happens when the chase is over?
“For most – it’s onto the next challenge. There is always an insatiable urge in whatever context. People are always chasing something:  romance, friendship, sex, acknowledgement, sadism. Generally, people are F!@#ked up!”

Friend 4 (Female):

Why do you think men like the chase so much?
“Only if women pose a challenge do men chase them.  If things come to easy for men they lose interest and the novelty or excitement  is over.”

What is the ultimate goal?
“Men like to be stimulated.”

What happens when the chase is over?
“Many guy friends have said to me if a woman gives it up to quick and easy nothing is left for them to be excited about.”

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