Monday, February 28, 2022
Friday, February 25, 2022
Communication is key in relationships
by Frances Ive, author of Brown Eyes
Meriel and Phil in Brown Eyes had hit a very bad patch in their marriage and were splitting up. Like many marriages or relationships they had been together for some time, but they were not communicating before or after the crisis happened. In fact, their innermost thoughts were never revealed to each other, so resentment and apathy had built up. Meriel’s friend Tania told her,
‘Deep down I feel that you love each other, and I find it really hard to see you throwing away the life you have together with love, that is so rare to find for anyone.’
Why was it that Tania always got right to the heart of the matter and knew exactly what to say? She was completely right, of course we loved each other. I knew that deep inside, but what could I do?
I have this block, this inability to say to him, ‘I was wrong. Let’s give it another go. I forgive you. Forget the past. Let’s start anew.’
I just couldn’t do that.
Don’t we learn that communication is key to all relationships, whether personal or business? Communication in the workplace is often the subject of courses, but does this mean that people are any better at communicating with their loved ones? Today’s children may learn more about relationships than anyone did in the past, but this is theory. How often can they put this into practice in personal relationships? It’s quite common to be worried about saying how we feel and keep it inside or tell other people, but not the partner.
Expressing feelings and being listened to are so important as is appreciation for each other. Of course, it’s human nature to take those close to us for granted. It is not until something happens and they are no longer there, that we realise how much they mean to us.
There are many reasons for lack of communication between couples. Fear of losing a partner, worry about seeming needy, or just an inability to speak your own truth can be why it seems to be so difficult, even for people who communicate well at work. There are also those who don’t give any thought to how they interact with their partners and carry on regardless, as they always have throughout their lives.
When something goes seriously wrong, they may not have a strong enough foundation to prevent the relationship falling apart. When it seems like there is no hope and the only answer is to separate, can it be pulled back from the brink, especially when both partners have met someone else? Can the deeply hidden love resurface and bring the couple to their senses?
Meriel and Phil don’t hate each other – quite the opposite, they love each other, but they find it hard to find a way out of the mess they have created. They have two children, and a family Labrador, Benji. The children are not happy with the situation, nor is the dog and we know this because he is a co-narrator. He knows their habits and their moods, and he observes everything, but despairs at human behaviour. He can see his perfect life falling apart and the family splitting in two. The sheer frustration is that he can’t do anything about it, even though he tries.
Eventually, it takes a sad event for the couple to start to pick up the pieces of their marriage in earnest. The need to swallow pride and cut through stubbornness is essential, as well as communicating with each other. Can they save their relationship?
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
From the moment we meet little Elizabeth, our hearts are sold. Her innocence, her joy, her utter bewilderment by the beauty of life despite all she's seen (though we know not of that quite yet) is on display in her open face, and merely contained by her inquiring questions. She depends on her mother, Genevieve for love and well being, but she looks out for her as well even though she is but a child. When her mother crosses paths with the Marquess, it's far more caution displayed than anything else, for she's had a life she doesn't wish to discuss, and is seeking to forge a new future without entanglements. Unintentionally, she's sharing the same proverbial boat with Henry Spencer, the Marquess, because he's come to his remote estate to escape his responsibilities and find himself again without entanglements as well. So, you can see where this is going, right? When we're not looking for love is when it most often finds us...
Monday, February 21, 2022
This extract comes from the opening section of Tom and Grace’s story. Tom has been struggling and he has gone for a drive and ended up in a public garden. This is his first encounter with Grace and shows he’s just as awkward as a 30-something as he was at 18, when it comes to talking to women.
My study of the bee had lifted my spirits briefly and it was with a marginally lighter step that I followed the map’s suggested route and made my way towards the ramp to enter the water gardens.
My first impression of it was that it looked like the external set of one of the Hollywood musicals that Olivia loved so much and the thought momentarily lifted my spirits. As I walked along, I found myself singing, Stereophonic Sound from Silk Stockings under my breath, but the song brought tears to my eyes, so I stopped.
A huge weeping willow hung low over one of the ponds at the centre of the grounds, the feathery fronds of its yellow-green leaves tickling the placid surface of the water, sending gentle concentric circles rippling outwards every time it dipped and bobbed in the breeze. Through the gaps between the fringed branches, patches of brilliant blue sky peeped cheerily, defying an observer to be miserable in the face of its unrelenting positivity. I was surrounded by hundreds of shades of green, punctuated by splashes of pinks, purples, oranges, yellows and reds, all competing for my attention, the colours clashing violently, cymbals vibrating after a short, sharp rim shot. Ducks disturbed the smooth surface of the water, diving down from the sky like nature’s Stukas, honking angrily at each other, squabbling over their food, the will to survive present, even in a setting where they were well cared for. If they were to lose the fight, it would not be through lack of effort on their part at least.
It was like walking into a colourised photograph; the colours were too bright, too intense to be real and a gnawing headache began making its presence felt. It pricked at my temples, an internal itch I couldn’t scratch, sending pointed pin pricks of pain darting through every nerve in my head. White jagged streaks of light seared across my field of vision. I had half decided to just return home to the grey, uninspiring tepidity that awaited me, where I would be safe from this dangerous onslaught of life, when I rounded a corner and saw her.
In an instant, I was surrounded by a comforting cocoon of warmth. The headache, which only a moment earlier, had been threatening to invade, now retreated, grumbling, to lurk in the shadows; I was protected from its attack and it didn’t like it, but it was powerless in the face of the feelings that flooded through me. They swept away everything in their path.
I was acutely aware of everything around me. The delicate beat of the butterfly’s wings, a throbbing pulse of delight revelling in the freedom of flight. Bees buzzing past, accompanied by the lower pitched drone of another insect I couldn’t identify. Muffled sounds were clarion calls; the soft scuffle of feet through grass, the truncated click of a camera shutter and the murmuring voices of other visitors discussing the different species of hydrangea.
Above her head, a single strand of gossamer thread from a spider’s web stretched like a flea circus tightrope between a Larch and a Swamp Cypress; fragile but strong. A rope drawing me inexorably towards her, even as I stood paralysed, rooted as firmly to the spot as the trunks of the trees around me.
The rays from the sun bounced off the red curls that crowned her head, reflecting off the lenses of the purple-rimmed glasses that were perched precariously on the end of her nose. A long, slim finger reached up unselfconsciously and pushed them back up to their rightful place, purple glittery nail polish winking and blinking, playing hide and seek with the sun.
She had a book propped up on her crossed legs, a thick, weighty looking thing that seemed too heavy for her slender frame. I studied the cover, trying to make out what she was reading, but all I could see were the big blocks of colour that decorated the cover. It was clearly an academic book of some kind; No novel would have such a bland cover, I thought, Not if it ever wanted to be picked up and read.
She shifted her position on the bench, transferring the weight of the book from one leg to the other, smoothing the knee length skirt back down, before resuming her study of the page. Soft tendrils clustered around her temples and she twisted a longer curl around her index finger, a slight frown creasing the gap between the well-defined brows.
I ran a hand through my hair, scared to acknowledge the familiar feeling, unsure of what my next action should be and the movement must have caught her attention, because she lifted her head and removed her glasses, peering across the pond to see what had distracted her. I knew the moment she saw me because a slight smile of acknowledgment flickered across her face. I returned the gesture with interest, not deterred in the least by the instant return of her attention to the book and suddenly, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I crossed the narrow wooden plank that divided the two main bodies of water and made my way towards her bench.
‘Hi,’ I came to an abrupt halt to one side of where she sat.
She looked up, shielding her eyes from the sun. A puzzled frown half-formed then fell away.
For a moment, we occupied the awkward silence. I felt it forming around me, tying my tongue into tangled knots, then I shook it off, reminding myself there had been a purpose for the interruption of my walk.
‘It’s so beautiful here, isn’t it?’
She nodded, the irritated frown warring with the polite smile; the battle for supremacy playing out across the pale face.
‘Yes.’ A long pause, during which I did not move. ‘That’s why I come here. It’s somewhere quiet to read my book.’