Getting Married and the Wedding – Behind the Scenes

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The day you get married is believed to be the most beautiful one in your life. It totally can be that but especially the wedding is also a stressful experience that sets up expectations of others you’re often unwilling to meet and a lot of admin.

It all starts with gettting engaged which is really exciting. I remember I struggled to sleep for three days afterwards and kept touching my finger to check whether the ring was REALLY there. You have to inform all your friends and family about what happened and this adds up to the excitement. When the emotions settle, however, the time comes to start to think about the getting married part…

First of all, international marriages are not easy. The amount of paperwork needed is astounding and every document takes a long time to process, especially in a highly inefficient country in this respect like South Africa. Among others, I needed to get my husband’s certificate of no impediment, in order to get my own and then we still had to go through a formal interview that checked whether our relationship is legit and we’re not “a marriage of convenience”. The latter is a humiliating process no one should go through but South Africa is obsessed with the thought that every foreigner’s dream is to live here. The whole process of getting the documents sorted and getting the date for a civic ceremony took 6 months. Eventually we got married in an intimate ceremony with only four people present (including #englishrosiee) and proceeded to a day full of treats that ended up being really unforgettable and the best one in my life.

Now, wedding is a different story. People expect you to go full on and spend huge amounts of on this, let’s be honest, party. Sure, if you dreamt about a princess wedding be my guest but the way I feel is 1) it’s one night so instead of throwing buckets of money into it I’d rather travel with my husband 2) in a country like South Africa that has so much poverty it just doesn’t seem right to spend to excess and 3) fuck you wedding services providers I don’t see why anything that has a bridal service or wedding attached to it gets three times as expensive as a normal thing and I refuse to take part in this madness.

The other issue is of course the guestlist. People who haven’t made any effort to see you in over a year will also expect an invite. This is why it’s crucial to set your boundaries and establish who you actually want at your wedding. For me the list was limited to South African guests because the tickets are expensive and I didn’t want a disappointment from the side of my friends from Poland, telling me they can’t make it. With my family I additionally I didn’t want to play the role of an interpreter and opted rather for a seperate celebration in Poland.

Once you organize everything: the invites, the dress, the make-up, the food and most importantly the venue, you’re exhausted. Some of it is fun but it’s mostly frustrating and tiring. And the wedding itself? At some point with enough alcohol it’s really fun! At the same time it’s stressful before you get to that point. People stare at you (well, you’re the Bride) which I found very intimidating. The vows mean public speaking about your emotions which for me is truly nerve wrecking. Last but not least, things go wrong. Guests are late, the wind makes your photo shoot extremely difficult and ruins your bridal hair, people freak out last minute about delivering speeches changing the line-up, the layer of the wedding cake drops on the table… I also wanted to spend some time with the guests but even at a limited number of forty we had, it’s almost impossible. Eventually when all that could go wrong did, I  just relaxed and enjoyed the evening, drinking way too much. In the morning I woke up with a massive hangover and thought “I’m so happy I’m married and I had fun but I’m so happy it’s over too!”. Then I puked a lot, starting our forever after with my husband holding my hair back. There’s a long story behind this perfect wedding picture on Facebook, huh?

So Dear Rinsers, what are your experiences with getting married? If you had none what would you like?

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Sure, Opposites Attract! But Can They Really Provide a Foundation for Happily Ever After?

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Recently in a conversation about dating, my mother told me I wasn’t perfect and I should stop being so fussy (yes, she really could take a lesson in being nice from the mother’s of all those mummy’s boys I’ve dated in the past). I responded by telling her that I was ‘almost perfect’ just a little bit chubby 😛  As ‘almost perfect’ as I believe I am, I don’t think I’m the easiest chick to date. And would I want to date the ‘almost perfect’ male version of myself? Probably not! It’s probably a good thing then that they say opposites attract.

Being creatures of the OK Cupid dating age, I find that we’ve become obsessed with finding a partner that ticks all the right boxes. A certain age range, race, class, education level, address (that’s very very important in Cape Town because nobody wants to date a boy from the Northern Suburbs :P), religion, political views, hobbies…the list goes on. And tough luck if a potential suitor falls short in one of these areas! In most instances, we are looking for someone who matches up to us in each of the categories, something which I think it almost impossible to achieve.

Of course, you need to share some common ground with a potential partner. For instance, if his only topic of conversation in astrophysics and you are the kinda chick that would rather spend the date discussing the latest fashion trends you saw in the latest edition of Cosmo, well things are going to get pretty dry soon enough. If your date comes for a culture where woman are seen a subclass that only exist to be slaves to their men and you are a raging feminist (or any woman with an average upbringing) then chances it won’t be long before you guys clash in an epic way.

Even if we managed to successfully use a list of non-negotiable deal breakers to sift through the deadwood, the chances are we’d still end up encountering people who stood at the other spectrum to us on a whole of things.  But does being incredibly different to your significant other necessarily mean you’ll be incompatible?

In the short-term it’s obvious why opposites attract. Most people would find dating their shadow mind numbingly boring. While it’s nice to connect on some commonalities, it’s also pretty cool to be exposed to new things, some of which you might never have even known existed. Basically, meeting someone different from yourself and the usual suspects you hang out with can be quite refreshing and can be the source of some excellent chemistry.

I don’t have an unequivocal answer to the question of whether polar opposites can maintain a healthy relationship? But you just have to look around to see there are cases of people who couldn’t be more like chalk and cheese if they tried, but somehow together they work pretty well. I guess it depends on a number of things but most importantly what the differences are. If two people differ on somewhat more superficial things such as their taste in music or fashion, such differences are easily overcome. There are those things such as religious differences or divergent world views that might not even be worth trying to tackle.

Finally there are the types of differences which I believe have to the potential to do a lot of good. For example, people who’ve had diverse life experiences and hobbies have the ability to open our eyes to new perspectives and opportunities (who knows you might have a secret marathon running gene that you never knew about till you met the girl who made you chase after her around a field). For me, a person who is passionate about the things they do, even if these happen to be wildly divergent from my interests, is attractive (unless maybe their passion involves their mother or sitting indoors all day playing computer games all day long ) and finding out what makes them tick keeps things interesting.

Ultimately though, I think it really boils down to a person’s attitude towards the relationship. If both parties are open-minded and willing to embrace the each others’ idiosyncrasies, discuss things in a mature way (easier said than done, I know) and give things a fair chance at worst you’ll learn something new or have some exciting experiences. And maybe in the best case scenario all the stars will align, things will eventually fall into place and you’ll live happily ever after. Call me idealistic. THE END.

Alright Rinsers. I’m done pondering around in circles. It’s your turn. Do you think that beyond that initial attraction there is any hope for people who are opposites when it comes to a long-term relationship? Or do you think it’s best to continue searching for someone as ‘almost perfect’ as ourselves who ticks all the right boxes? Share your views in the comments below. 

 

How to Give Love Advice – a Philosophical Divagation

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from jewishnews.com

I don’t know how to give love advice. Between the need of being true to yourself, the feeling that you don’t want to hurt your friend and your empathy as you know how it is to be in their shoes there’s only a big question mark left after the question whether it’s possible to advise someone on matters of the heart and actually help them.

Similarly as parents are overprotective we’re sometimes overprotective when dealing with our friends. We’ve made our own bad choices and subsequently suffered quite a bit, therefore one of the worst things we can see is to look at someone who we care about making the same decisions. The problem is that no one learns from the mistakes of others. We can tell someone a story mirroring the one they’re dealing with in their lives and they will nod and then do what they need to do anyway. What’s more a friend can read our intentions wrong and instead of seeing our attempt to help, they may read the love advice as us taking a superior position of someone who knows better. Needless to say that the latter is the last thing we should want our friend to think. Besides, as we learn in life in all bad experiences there’s something good that comes out of it. Who knows whether by trying to protect someone from the pain, we’re not also sheltering them from the beautiful things that can come up thanks to this learning experience? My first partner broke my heart but today I know French because of the effort I put into learning the language so that we could communicate properly. Each of us has a whole list of similar actually-not-so-bad bad experiences.

Protecting a friend from a having a heart broken is one thing – you may manage to force yourself to take a step back or your friend will withdraw and you’ll be forced to do so externally. Whichever is the case trying to keep a non-judgmental attitude is probably the hardly achievable ideal. It doesn’t mean that you have to lie about what you think but it means that you have to do all to make sure that your friend feels comfortable enough with you to talk to you if things actually take the wrong turn and not be scared to approach because you were being judgy and they scared that they’ll hear “I told you so” from you. Not that it’s easy and not that I don’t make this mistake myself but one thing I’m slowly learning is that you need to let people do what they want to do. It gets easier if we remember that advice seeking is often an attempt to find someone to just listen or even to validate the fears one has and then rebel against what he or she knows is true.

The real problem appears, however, if your friend is doing something really harmful. Let’s assume that his problem is losing himself in a relationship to the extent that he spends no time whatsoever away from his partner. Maybe your friend likes guys that have addictive personalities and is being co-dependent? Or the worst of all she has an abusive partner? If you’re dealing with someone who has very serious issues just let go. Be there to listen but suggest professional advice rather than offer your own. These people are often psychologically rather unwell because of reasons you know nothing about and you’re not equipped to help. If you try, the love and drama addict that the person in a toxic relationship is, will try to drag you into their swamp and you may end up feeling hurt. They’ll turn everything you say against you and twist it around till they will make you feel like you’re the one with the problem. A person inseparable from their partner told me that if my partner was my priority I would be spending ALL my time with him. A wife of an alcoholic accused me of being a drama queen and exaggerating as apparently there’s nothing wrong with someone who gets drunk every single night as long as they go to work in the morning. The list could go on and on because I used to have a tendency to both attract broken people and try to fix them. At some point you learn to let go, though. You cannot fix a broken person, not as a friend and not as a partner but a broken person can try to break you. In other words, “and if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”.

So Dear Rinser, what do you think? Can we give people love advice or is it always pointless? Should we let people make their own decision or try to influence them when we don’t see them doing what we think they should? Is giving relationship advice not always judgmental?

 

 

The Curse of the Alpha Female

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Let me start by saying that I still have faith that in the world of Donald Trump there are still a lots of decent guys that don’t need sexually assault us to make themselves feel like BIG MEN. However, I do feel one of the biggest things that recent political developments has shown us that the world isn’t all that fond of powerful women (or in the case of the UK – they only want a chick in charge when it comes to clearing up the mess created by the BIG MEN). In today’s post I want to talk about the Curse of the Alpha Female aka the problems of being a 21st century woman who is capable of holding her own with the boys.

First things first. Yes, woman fought tirelessly to gain equal rights to men in terms of things like education and suffrage. But in some ways woman were also forced to become more powerful because they had no other option but to step up in a world full of deadbeat dads,  and generally useless men. So lets get things straight – the Alpha Female doesn’t wear the trousers in the relationship because she necessarily wants to, in most cases its because she has to.

We all know that the fairer sex is the brighter as well with numbers of women pursuing and completing higher education outnumbering men quite dramatically (in the Western world). You’d think having an education and providing your date with stimulating conversation would be a good thing but the truth is often men end up feeling emasculated by intelligent/career-driven women – you’ll often find them yawning and trying to change the subject away from politics and conversations about the meaning of life and more towards football, 9/11 conspiracy theories or their favourite sexual positions (be warned they’ll try to dress it up as banter but its NOT!).

OKCupid did this analysis and they found that the women that got the most attention were Asians (‘Chinese’/ ‘Indian’ looking). Why? Well, apparently these women are seen as more likely to be subservient. For some reason, this little stat got stuck in my head and now whenever a guy tells me he has a thing for ‘Indian’ chicks I feel like pewking in my mouth. For what it’s worth, this ‘Indian’ chick hails from the East End of London and my Brit upbringing means that they’ll be in for a surprise if they are looking for submissive. Like myself, there are lots of liberated young women these days who (unless they’ve already lost the will to live thanks to a meeting with the dude’s mummy) aren’t going to sit silently and smile while some guy spews his bigoted views on her.  But sadly ladies, apparently having a mind of your own isn’t going to necessarily bag you that man!

Even those of us who don’t consider ourselves to be raging feminists still probably exhibit certain attributes of an Alpha Female and that’s probably why dating has become such a chore. Womankind as a whole is becoming stronger and more independent. Most of us are no longer reliant on our fathers or husbands and as such aren’t willing to pander to the needs of some bloke or worry about denting their fragile egos. For most women, a successful guy who is passionate about what he does is attractive and you’d think the same should be the same in reverse. A strong woman it seems has the power to emasculate most of the guys.

So, the solution to this dating problem. Well luckily, the Alpha Female is a tenacious character and of course there are a few that’ll resign them to spinsterhood but most of us know better than to give up on things, including the search for the right partner. Thankfully, there are still some good men out there that are comfortable enough in their own skin not to be intimidated by a woman’s success but instead are drawn to that independent spirit. So the key here is not toning yourself down or downplaying your achievements in order to get the guy but to look for someone who encourages you to continue to achieve great things instead of feeling threatened. It’s also important to remember that ‘success’ and ‘intelligence’ are relative terms and mean different things to different people and relationships aren’t a competition. Maybe one person earns more money or has more PhDs than another  but that doesn’t make them any better equipped to deal with the challenges that the world throws their way and once your get past all the superficiality what we may actually need is someone who is able to complement our skills set rather than being our mirror image.

Alrighty Rinsers. Over to you. What are your thoughts on Alpha Females? Are you a strong, independent, successful woman  who has experienced issues when it comes to dating because of your achievements? Guys, do you find woman that may be more successful/’intelligent’ than you intimidating or attractive?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Alone – When Your Partner Is Away

homealoneWhen you’re in a long-term relationship your partner will most probably be away at times. It may be due to a business trip or some other arrangement that you cannot be a part of. In either case you have to deal with it and cope with a new temporary reality in which you’re home alone.

If you value your friendships and you understand that your partner cannot be all your life, you probably  make an effort to see your friends and pursue your passions outside of the relationship. If you have a working relationship, however, there’s no way that you’ll spend as much time with other people as you used to when you were single. Between the quality time with your partner, quality time in the Coupleverse and some other couple obligations, you end up being constantly busy. Then suddenly your partner goes away from the shared world for a period of time and you’re left with a surplus of free time (and no sex or cuddles).

I’d lie if I said your partner’s being away had no perks whatsoever. At least now you can do the things you didn’t have time to do because you preferred to spend time with your partner. Maybe you can finally find time to get back to blog writing without feeling guilty? You can also become a super productive individual you wish you were and get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, prepare yourself a smoothie, go to yoga and then cycle to work. When you’re done with a work day you can go out and widen your circle of friends or you can stay in and watch whichever series you want to, even if your partner doesn’t like it. You can throw your clothes around you and keep the sink full of dishes. You can do pretty much whatever you want but the fact remains that you’re alone and you’re missing your partner.

I guess my husband doesn’t go away too often but I still don’t like it. It’s probably a good sign, however, that even though I keep busy I’m still quite bleak because of his absence. The truth is that when you have a lot in common with your partner most things you enjoy, you can do together. For me it’s not: “Yay! I can organise a hike/cinema outing now” but rather “Nay! It’s still cool but not the same without him.” You’re also temporarily banished from the Coupleverse, because let’s be honest a dinner for the three of you, just doesn’t have the same dynamics as a two couple outing. Besides, being surrounded by duets makes me even more morose. In short, doing “all the things I want” when he’s away in my case translates into doing all the things I want to do to keep busy and make the time go faster before my husband is back. It doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy doing some of them, but keeping busy doesn’t always imply quality and sometimes I’d much more prefer being with my partner than introducing myself to a hord of strangers I’ll never see again.

As life is all about having healthy balance, I’ve managed to create a state of reasonable contentment with how my life is with my husband. Having a life partner means after all having a life together. You don’t have to cry every minute when your partner is away and you should try to have fun but life is still so much better when your significant other is around. Maybe the one good purpose of the partner being away for a bit is that it serves as a reminder of how lucky we are with what we have on daily basis.

It’s good real love isn’t like in romantic comedies

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from the frisky.com

I’m not a big fan of romantic comedies. I think that one tends to be more interested in this sort of cinema when he or she is experiencing a heartbreak and is rather down. A happy singleton or a content coupled person doesn’t usually binge on romantic comedies. Unless of course, like in my case, your country of origin produces copious amounts of romcoms and they’re what’s on offer in a Christmas parcel sent by your mom. After watching a few of these recently I realised that no wonder I pined for love “just like in the movies” when I was a teenager as the vision of it presented on the screen is temptingly unhealthy.

First of all, there’s the indecisiveness hidden under the name of romanticism. Starting with the poor Mr Darcy from the Bridget Jones series who’s stuck in horribly boring relationship, the whole list of romcoms male characters  often marries the horrible women who are not really who they should be with. They didn’t really make an adult decision to be with them, it just happened. The One who they truly need is the protagonist whom we’re supposed to support in her quest for True Love (also referred to as destroying someone else’s relationship). The love interest of the protagonist is either a sociopath who’s been in a relationship faking his feelings for years or he’s emotionally unstable and waits in a relationship he doesn’t want for something better to come his way in fear of ever being single. Either way what sort of happily ever after awaits the protagonist? What is to say that after the One, the Two won’t come along?

Secondly, many romantic characters are extremely impulsive. All these scenes of people chasing each other on the train stations are very dramatic and one may shed a tear but let’s not forget that it’s just a movie. In real life people don’t change their minds about someone so impulsively and it’s a good thing. Relationships are not about this one right thing you’ve said or done. It’s about how you are in general as a person and towards your future or current partner. No one who’s even remotely sane will decide to be with you because he saw you with another guy, similarly a partner won’t leave you because you said something hurtful one time. Real love is based on real emotions and these need time to be built and strengthen. You can’t just change it all immeidately. Movie love is based on impressions about the person rather than on the knowledge about who they really are. Last but not least, often in romcoms I have an impression that the characters are governed by lust. This would be fine if they were making a choice for a one night stand but NOT for a forever after.

I’m not trying to say here that there’s something wrong with watching romcoms. They can sometimes be entertaining! It’s just about not taking what we see on the screen as a blueprint of a proper romantic behavior as they’re this sort of fiction that’s not meant to render real life. Also I must say I wish more money was going into making a bit more realistic movies that deal with genuine emotions. Unfortunately too many people do seem what they see on TV or in the cinema as the ideal that should be aspired to.

 

Keeping Your Options Open – Self-Preservation vs. Happily Ever After?

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Being part of the Tinder generation, we are all well aware that we live in a world of endless possibilities. The girl is pretty but you don’t like her curly locks. SWIPE AGAIN. The guy ticks all the right boxes but he isn’t quite 6 foot. SWIPE AGAIN. She has a lazy eye. SWIPE AGAIN. He doesn’t have a tertiary education. JUST KEEP SWIPING.

If you are an open-minded Brit girl, who doesn’t think is god’s gift to men and isn’t afraid of STRANGER DANGER like her South Africa counterparts, landing yourself a date really isn’t a big deal and you’ll soon find yourself Tindering up a storm. You may lose 30 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back but what they hell, you probably needed that glass of wine anyway. Right? Well, this sort of attitude is fine in theory. Lining up those dates is all well and good. But speaking from experience, there really does come a point where you begin to question your sanity and wonder if happily ever after is just a fictitious concept conjured up by Disney to sell movies.

Choice isn’t always a good thing. It can actually be more of a curse especially in an age where people are never seem to be satisfied and are always trying to find something/someone who is that little bit more perfect. So in today’s post I’ll be asking whether keeping our options open is always the ‘safest’ approach to dating or whether there comes a time when one should simply delete that god-awful Tinder profile and give a someone a fair chance to prove their Prince/Princess Charming credentials?

Just recently I was chatting to a friend of mine who always seems to have something in the works with at least 5 women simultaneously. What a Lothario! But has he found true love? A stable relationship? A FWB, even? NO! Well this time he claimed he REALLY liked he liked the chick and I was happy to see a glimmer of hope for this one settling down instead of forever playing the field. So I suggested he focus solely on her, ask her out on a proper date and give himself a chance at happily ever after? His response : ‘Well it is like going for job interviews. You don’t just go to one banking on it to be positive. You have to go to as many as possible and hope you are shortlisted. Then they get back to you asking if you accept the offer. Then it is salary  negotiations, etc… ‘  Sigh!

Seriously?! The sad thing is I don’t think our Lothario is the only one who thinks this way. Keeping your options open is an option followed by most people. I myself am guilty of doing it on many occasions. I guess the reasoning behind it is fair enough – most of us (who aren’t social recluses or 30-something virgins) have been hurt in the past and not allowing ourselves to put all our eggs in one basket is essentially just a defence mechanism to stop us having our hearts broken yet again.

Although I get the logic behind such self-preservation, I believe that finding truly love does involve some inherent risks and  unless we are willing to truly let go of Plans B, C and D I don’t think we really give ourselves a fighting chance of making a go of things with our Plan A. Regardless of whether things work out or not, you’ll sleep better at night knowing you gave it your best shot. Naturally we are worried about the humiliation of taking a risk and having it backfire. And of course there are a few haters out there who’ll have a little giggle at such misfortunes but people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones because if you dig deep enough you’ll find most people that criticise others are probably stuck in loveless relationships or have serious issues of their own. At the end of the day the people that do matter will give you the support to take those risks and they’ll even be there to pick up the pieces should things not go to plan. So just give up the back-up plans and focus all your intention on Prince/Princess Charming (and just remember if they do turn out to be just another frog you can simply re-download Tinder with a clear conscience).

So Rinsers share your thoughts. Do you think having too much choice could be a curse? How does one know when to give up the other options (or simply stop swiping)? Do you think there is some value to treating our love lives like we do our career prospects? And does keeping your options open really lessen the blow of heartache? Answers and wisdom in the comments section below.