We are used to cash settlements. We pay for land, water, fire and electricity. For all the elements. Except that we don’t yet pay for the weather. But are we not paying in our relationship with our spouse?
A closer look reveals that we do. Only the bookkeeping is different depending on the length of the relationship.
Here you are just getting to know a member of the opposite physical contact. You don’t know yet whether you like him or not. From the outside looking in, your relationship is characterised by flirting and a desire to please. What is that if not a kind of advance? After all, the new acquaintance hasn’t had time to prove his love or any other virtues to you. So you could say that you are investing your behaviour, your movements, your smile, as well as your make-up, your perfume, your clothes and your physical appearance in him at risk. Patience too – you listen attentively to his stories. In fact, he also gives you things and promises you things, but men are known to invest a little less in their appearance than women, and a lot more in their possessions. It is as if he is accidentally showing you his muscular arms, his expensive watch, his car and the thickness of his wallet… It is not yet clear who invests more. You seem to have more than him, don’t you?
And that’s the beginning of the novel. Here’s where the man has to do his best. Flowers, trips to the countryside, coffee bills to pay, birthday presents, gifts “just because”. Or is it more romantic with you? A song he writes or a guitar he plays, a bonfire he builds in the woods or a boat trip. After all, if you’re not very rich, maybe it’s just a massage on your swollen foot, an orange bought for you, a packet of cigarettes or a jacket thrown over your shoulders on a cold evening? Now it seems to you that his investment is bigger than yours. So one evening, you will pay him back – with your body.
And here you are, living together. The material investment is in the background. physical contact is like a mutual reward. Affectionate words, tolerance of shortcomings, promises of togetherness, fidelity, separation from your parents for your sake – it’s unexpectedly rich. Much more than it would be if you just gave as much as you get. Mutual investment in something that is more than one person – your marriage – is investment in excess. As a result of this mutual surplus, the relationship develops, you get married and you have children. Let us note – whatever the proponents of marital contracts say, everything that is currently given and taken does not count as debt. It is not lending, it is giving. And it is not paid for with money, but with sincere gratitude. Amazement is in sight. A smile. Gentleness.
In a family with children, your mutual investment is somewhat reduced, at best you give to your husband what you get. Not surprisingly, there is now another bookkeeping involved – in your relationship with your child. Mothers – and we mean normal mothers who invest in their children several times more than they will ever get back – do it instinctively, without thinking that the child never gives back to the parents what it receives from them. In the beginning, the child still says thank you: with a smile, letters to his mother, songs and drawings. “My mum is the best”. “My daddy is the strongest”. But this does not last long. A child takes from his mother everything he has received and will give back only in the dim future – not to his mother, but to his children – your grandchildren.
Your husband – of course, if he is a normal man – contributes to this bookkeeping, but unfortunately more often in money – everything costs money: housing, pram, clothes, formula, medicine, nursery. And then: school, clubs, uniforms, books, camps, classroom repairs. Mobile bills and insurance. University studies, clubs and parties, car and study abroad. All these investments are not profitable. When will your child finally get his own bookkeeping and your husband be able to cut back on his investments not in you? It is true that at some point you join in the money-making if you have already graduated and have a job. But a few years down the line, your balance sheet will be lacking in mutual gifts. Relationships can get cold.
And if that happens, one or both of you will be attracted to others – those who promise and entice you with their investments. Here’s a stranger smiling at you. Here’s a friendly neighbour speaking to you. Here’s a flirtatious co-worker promising you something at a party. Advances, advances, advances…. How do you get them back? Perhaps flirting will be enough?
And the children have already left the house. Will you continue to invest in your marriage? Perhaps you will only give each other what you get – a smile for a kiss, rare physical contact for rare attention? Or will you give each other freedom and divorce? Or maybe the investment will suddenly exceed expectations again, and you will remember each other’s secret and open dreams? Will you give yourselves to the garden and the grandchildren? But here are the children, separated from you, giving you freedom, and here you can feel grateful to them. And make the most of this freedom – with trips, love adventures for mature couples, seminars and books. Self-creative fulfilment.
And here life comes to an end. Perhaps, you have lived