I’ve been a bit absent from this site recently, mostly due to my involvement in the local production of Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid.’ (Get your tickets here!)
But last night, while I was catching up on the hundreds of emails accumulating on my computer, I had what I would now describe as the bad fortune, to accidentally watch ‘The Bachelor’ in the background. I’d left the TV on, mostly for the noise, (helps me speed through the junk mail), and bit by bit, I became equally fascinated and horrified about what was unfolding on the screen. Eventually I just stopped and watched.
Tonight on the news, was a segment about men and women being scammed and blackmailed while ‘looking for love’ online. It seems that pretty well everything I see in the media is referencing the hunt for true love.
My husband and I have been talking about the fact that in January next year, we’ll have clocked up thirty years of marriage. We were married in our twenties, and thirty years ago, I was considered relatively old at the age of twenty-four, just as I was ‘relatively old’ for a first baby at twenty-eight. Oh how things have changed.
We were talking today about the date of our engagement, and how long we were ‘officially’ a couple and officially engaged. (About three months and four months respectively.) One of my husband’s co-workers recently commented that ‘you didn’t muck around’ to my husband, when they were talking about our upcoming anniversary. My husband replied: “I’d known Leonie for two years, and seen her at her worst at 2am at a fire call.”
You see, we’d been friends for a couple of years, and we’d met in the volunteer fire brigade. And believe me, there are no illusions left about looks when you’ve rolled up at the fire station in the middle of the night after waking up to the sound of the siren/pager, fought a fire, and then reset all the gear together. We’d also spent a considerable amount of time together under stressful and not so stressful circumstances as a result.
And I’d say one of the key things in a marriage is being friends with the person you marry. Marriage is not all roses and champagne. It’s about sharing time, coping with stuff, and making the decision to soldier on when it doesn’t quite seem to be working.
As I watched the ‘contestants’ filing on to the set of the Bachelor, dressed in gowns (one even in a wedding gown…), surrounded by candles, meeting for the first time, the man who they are hoping to ‘fall in love’ with, I was struck by how far that situation is from actual reality.
As the evening progressed, and the competition hotted up, the contestants began to shoulder each other out of the way for a minute or two with ‘bachie.’ Perhaps a few of of the contestants are actually there in the hope of a relationship (they all say they are), but my goodness it didn’t look much like it. It was pretty obvious that some were there for exposure. And some for obsession, perhaps. Obviously, editing has a lot to do with how the general public sees them, but even so, words once said are now out there forever.
Over the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to see how love in the real world actually works. It’s in the forbearance of my husband as once again I spend months helping put a musical together, and then drag him along to sell programs on opening weekend. It’s in the words of couples experiencing life shattering events and their care for each other when they know time is now limited.
It’s in the actions of young couples who cope with despair and hope and fear for their children. It’s in the actions of older couples who face death head on, who deal with health threats, and who still go out of their way to help others in need.
I am left wondering why people would want to ‘search for love’ on a reality television show. Have we lost the ability to connect with each other face to face? And what are we really looking for when we look for love?
Love, to me, is an enduring thing that transcends the physical, and steps into the unknown with faith that the loved one will step with you. It upholds your partner, and cares for them, no matter what. It’s occasionally about candlelight and champagne (or as Scuttle the seagull would say: “Candlelight and Shampoo!”) but mostly about shared things – nappies, laughter, sadness, joy, tragedies and trials and shared interests.
As I look forward to our thirty year milestone next year, I hope and pray that people choose to look beyond the physical, and the trappings that media tells us are necessary, and seek out a real connection, built on a solid foundation of actual togetherness. Find a friend first. Build something stronger than a tower of champagne glasses, founded on a carpet of rose petals.
Build on this: ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’