(Published in Malay Mail on 29 May 2009. Click here for the online version)
EVERY morning – when my mood is as grey as unpolished Royal Selangor Pewter merchandise – I tune in to Lite FM during the ho-hum journey to the office to tune-out the work that awaits.
Last Thursday, as usual, the wacky duo, PK and Sara, were entertaining the listeners with an intriguing point of contention: Should you, should you not (try to, at least) change for your partner.
What a topic. One rather indignantly aghast (and rather comical) listener, Ruth, called in to let off some “steam”. How could anyone, dare even think of “changing” even for someone we love. Banish such thoughts. Never. Her frustration was so palpable I could almost touch it at my end.
By and large, a woman is accused of turning into something else, other than the highly exciting person she once was, after fate is somewhat sealed with a relationship commitment or marriage. Men, too, have been accused of being guilty of the same offence. But human relationships are, at least to me, like a Product Life Cycle (PLC): introduction, growth, maturity and decline.
Basically, the PLC graph indicates a succession of strategies used by management as a product goes through its various stages. The environment in which a product is sold naturally changes over time, and knowing thy turf therefore can make or break its success. I think that’s enough (yawn) economics for today.
During the first two stages of “how do you do and wanna do stuff together”, the sizzling human chemistry erects a façade over our idiosyncrasies.
Potentially fatal differences rarely surface. We are focused on learning our partner’s behaviour and disposition to the exclusion of others.
The dopamine and ocytoxin are kicking in. And like any other learning process, it’s naturally stimulating because we are wading into uncharted water. Or so our hormones tell us. Into growth and the beginnings of maturity (insert the word marriage whenever appropriate), when the novelty of My Chemical Romance starts to simmer, reality begins to kick in. The real tests of making ends meet each month, and of raising children, and of enduring in-laws are thrown into the equation and… our partner’s conflicting views and habits seem to easily annoy us.
We try to fashion (a nicer word than “change”) our partner into thinking or acting the way we do. Well, isn’t my happiness yours, no?
Altercations do happen; words spoken in haste are stored as ammunition for the next round. But the tail end of maturity will very much determine the inclination of the decline in this life cycle.
Change, by whatever name, may be foreign to digest for many – be it in a relationship or a political party. The idea of change itself can be unnerving.
Funny this because, whether we like it or not and which oft is repeated, the only constant is change.
Everything changes… the computer I’m typing on, the table it sits on, why the fingers I type these words with… (my beautiful fingernails won’t be as stunning in 10 years time).
Yes, we are included in the everything that is changing by the ticking seconds, whether we like or not. We grow older. But with the physical change, will there be the mental change?
To me, whenever the prospect of (having to) change dawns, I wrestle to let go of any fear, and try to embrace the ‘newness’ like a fawning optimist – and pray for the best.
I know I sound like a pseudo-psychologist but probably the key to successfully changing is acceptance. I was once a little vexed when my husband told me to comb my hair (as if I was a little girl) when on my way out to do some grocery shopping.
I gave him a deadpan stare, and muttered under my breath: “Come on! You loved my hair when we were dating”. A quick glance at the mirror nudged me into making sure I wouldn’t look like a frizzy-haired loony in Tesco.
Now, I sometimes ask if I look okay… Change for the better? Hopefully, sooner than later, when I may not have hair on my head to unfrizz.
Now that I am not as grey anymore, let me grab that first cup of coffee and hit the mountain of files on my desk. I see no change in my routine so far.
● Elviza Michele Kamal is looking for spare change for the coffee machine. She blogs at https://elviza.wordpress.com