[COLUMN] Two magical words

Part 1 of 2

MANY years ago, on a visit to my father’s grave site on a quiet, lush, manicured patch of Forest Lawn Glendale, my husband, daughter and I trudged along several bronze memorial tablets of husbands and wives who lived in the 1850’s and died just before the mid-1900’s buried side by side.

My daughter noted the pattern in the weathered bronze tablets of several generations ago. I commented that it is getting harder to find such longevity of devotion these days among younger married couples of the current generation.

Call this the Age of Distraction for the “Selfies” generation. It seems we love ourselves far too much to the exclusion of others. Perhaps it is because society, as a whole, is engaged in far too many distractions and mired in too much self-absorption.

Social media enables and encourages a popular culture that fosters self-love to the worrisome point of extreme narcissism. It has become a struggle for many couples just to stay together.

One might argue that the generations before us didn’t have the same challenges that we are having. That is a valid point. It may have been a far simpler time compared to the complexities of modern life. And yet, a great number of the older generation leave behind lessons of love that result from devotion and fidelity. Surely, we can learn a lot about nurturing human relations from those who have gone before us.

This I have learned from an older generation at an early age. Of all the powerful words in the English language, the words “Thank you” are like magic wands in helping transform human relationships, marriage in particular, happier. Not perfect … just happier.

You don’t even have to say the words. You can acknowledge anything good done for you by your partner by a sweet gesture, a nod, a smile, a touch or anything else that works for you that says “thank you.”

In short, don’t take your partner for granted. Whether you’ve been together 50 days or 50 years, those words never get old.

If you want that most powerful emotion called love to live on, treat your partner like a gardener takes care of a plant. Most plants cannot survive without water, light, soil and other optimum conditions kept at a consistent basis. The human heart is like that. It grows strong and beautiful with constant, devoted care.

Saying “thank you” to your partner in life as often as you can, simply means you appreciate him. You are validating his worth as a person. Perhaps, being appreciated and shown respect, is next on the list of the most basic needs of a human being after the needs of food, clothing and shelter are met.

The words may not come naturally to you and your partner may be stunned at first but go ahead. Give it a try and say “thank you.” Say it like you mean it. Look for the small gestures such as giving you a cup of coffee, opening your car door, doing housework, cleaning your car or filling up your gas tank. Just don’t take what he does for you as a given.  Or how about taking the initiative yourself? If you do it long enough and often enough, he just might mirror your behavior. What goes around comes around.

If he brings home the paycheck that pays for your family life, then treat him like a king. Often, the goodhearted partner will treat you like his queen. There are exceptions, of course. It is only the jerks and the jackasses who abuse their positions of strength. That holds true for both sexes.

If there is constant, sincere appreciation shifting back and forth between partners, you are, in effect, cementing a foundation for a relationship that would be tough to crack even if a threat to your marriage, like a pretty, young vixen with mile-long legs comes along making a play for your partner. Likewise, a smooth talking, slick Pepe Le Pew character with washboard abs would smell more like Brad’s sweaty armpit and would have no chance with a woman who already has a man at home she can canoodle with. The same is true for men. Paul Newman simply explained why he remained faithful to Joanne Woodward, “Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?”

What is good for the gander is good for the goose. There may be scores of women out there right now who feel neglected by their spouses. Maybe there’s another woman or man waiting in the wings. But more often than not during this Age of Distraction, the disaffection is rooted in self-absorption. And there lies the problem. Women need, want and crave appreciation just as much as men, if not more.

Self-love takes many forms — whether it is playing video games or social networking on FB, Twitter or Instagram or some such platform on the internet for hours on end; binge drinking; gambling; watching or playing golf or any other sport; vain, self-obsession as a health nut or on becoming an Adonis body-building hunk or going to the deep end of things, deviant sex and pornography.

With few exceptions, obsession is unhealthy not only for the obsessed but also for those who live within his or her immediate orbit. Excessive time spent on these obsessions is time stolen from nurturing the love relationship. Watch out for these modern-day distractions and addictions that are just too many to list. Admit them if you have them and break the bonds with firm resolve.  If you want true love and happiness, strive for balance and moderation.

In all cases of neglect, love is left to wither and die. Women who feel neglected, if driven to their limits, may throw all caution to the wind and look for love from the first opportunistic guy that comes along ready to engage in mild flirtation, an occasional dalliance or a full blown affair and gives them the attention and validation they crave. Such women can make disastrous, life-changing decisions that cause not only personal damage but also leave behind in the wake of a messy split, massive psychological, irreversible damage to children and other people involved in the couple’s life.

Say “thank you” and mean it. Don’t just do it out of habit. Cut off the cellphone “umbilical cord” and make eye contact. Open your eyes and see the good in your partner. Wisdom, as they say, is knowing what to overlook.

Rein in that critical sharp tongue. The tongue is a small yet powerful muscle that can lash out capable of slashing and burning a relationship forever. The effect is amplified a million times when you write it down or use the web to vent your fury. When you document your anger on paper and more frequently these days online, you have entered “scorched earth” territory. There is little chance of ever going back.

(To be continued…)

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications,  Inc. To send comments, e-mail monette.maglaya@asianjournalinc.

 

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