Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Trying So Hard in the Name of Love

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Trying So Hard in the Name of Love

Article excerpt


THE problem with men is that they are always romantic on the wrong day. This sour wisdom stems not from me, but my wife.

Apparently women are happy to take our chocolates and flowers on Valentine's Day, if that's all that's on offer, but these are scant substitutes for affection and attention on all the other 364 days of the year.

Men (which means one man in particular, me) don't have a clue how to pull off that trick.

Jo reckons my idea of romance is rushing round to Thornton's in a last-minute pre-Valentine's panic to buy a chocolate-covered glow of self-satisfaction.

She's wrong, of course: you can order online now.

But hang on a minute, this isn't fair. Don't women realise how hard it is for men to be romantic? Everything we've been taught, from books to movies, is about how to get hold of love. We've never been told what to do with it when it's in our hands. In literature, love stories are never about two happily married people, unless one of them is dying or going mad. They tell of loves lost, sought, or unrequited.

On the very last page, there might be a blissful union, but it's the page after that which is missing: what happens when the wedding bells stop ringing? Proust, a typically unromantic male, wrote: "We love only what we do not wholly possess." We men are great at romance when we're wooing.

We'll jump on planes in the middle of the night, ship truckloads of roses to your door and buy you a diamond mine just to make you smile. But the moment you reciprocate, and take away our insecurity and pain by actually falling in love with us and allowing us to spend our lives with you, then we're lost.

Nobody has issued us with the service guide to this part of the relationship. We assume marriage comes with a lifetime guarantee. We even believe the claim that "love is forever" when, actually, love is just the start. …

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