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Daniela and I are from two different planets.
Not only is she a woman as I am a man; but she’s also Italian, and I’m British.
We speak different languages in life as well as love and come from such different cultures.
As much as my parents are from India, I have been born and raised in England, and if you ever met me and spent time with me…
I’m more British than I am anything else.
Or at least part of the ambitious Indian diaspora.
But what difference does any of that make to Daniela?
She’s from a part of Italy (the North; Turin) where the only Indians you see are the ones selling kids’ toys on the streets, loitering outside of train stations selling gifts from time to time, and hidden away in the very few Indian restaurants that exist in Turin.
I think at a time or two we’ve stumbled upon the odd international Indian student – but were you to walk around the streets, not an Indian you would find.
Her entire life until the age of 27 was in Italy, and nothing suggested that she would ultimately spend the next few years back and forth from Italy before finally residing in the UK.
Equally, looking back at it, there was nothing that suggested I would consider spending several years in Italy; as I consider it now, and as I have already spent living and travelling back and forth in Italy.
Her family are there as mine are here.
Ours was a whirlwind romance that has ultimately taken us across Europe from London to Malaga and Italy.
Within all of this, we’ve had to contend with distance, language, and the different love languages that I always used to think were a function of our cultural differences.
The focus was on that she was Italian and that I am British and therefore her cultural expectations were so skewed from mine.
Of course, as age, and my idiocy of my unawareness of my blind spots only grew deeper it became clear that our struggles that still exist in our relationship are nothing to do with where she’s from…but a rather simple biology. Or rather maybe just me?
Work, my career, and the musings I often share through these posts are what often occupy my mind; and the further I venture down the rabbit hole of work, the further removed I have become from our relationship.
And so quality time, unencumbered by thoughts of Pearl Lemon, Plant Sumo or whatever it may be becomes further away.
Just this weekend I took stock of the statistics:
- When was the last time I’d surprised Daniela with a gift?
- When was the last time I’d booked a new place for dinner?
- When was the last time I’d suggested we sit on the sofa and watch a movie together that I thought we might both like?
- When was the last time I noticed something she spoke about and then I bought it
It was at this point I grimaced, upon my realisation that I complained to Daniela about my feelings of distance but equally realised I’d done nothing to work upon the romantic side of the relationship.
It’s funny thing how my own feeling of distance, coupled with my desire to pass the blame onto Daniela can become the reason for the huge blow-up we had.
And then, upon taking advice from several friends, the realisation came that well….I’ve done less than the bare minimum to nurture the romantic side of the relationship. To recapture the reasons why we fell in love in the first place.
My cousin Ajay asked me –
‘Do you take note of the things Daniela likes so maybe you can come back to this in the future?’
My friend Aaron said –
‘When I have challenges in my relationship my wife comments – ‘it’s interesting that you have these demands yet you’re no longer romantic – you used to woo me – now those days are gone?’
My other buddy Luc said –
‘Find the way to bring back romance into your relationship, and things that bring you close – without expectation of romance – and you’ll find the romance will come right back in of itself
I then discussed trying to work on this with my accountability coach Valentina.
What became clear was that my diary and to-do list ruled my life and in these early stages of realising I’m such a bonehead, perhaps I should make physical notes about things to work on, and set reminders for myself.
There might be romantics out there who look aghast at what I’m writing, and part of me is wondering whether Daniela will kill me for even writing this but hey….
I wanted to share what occupies my mind with you.
This all began from my complaints last week that I missed the intimacy in our relationship and that we lived like friends – and fundamentally passed all the blame to Daniela and demanded it had to change.
After spending the day outside of my house, and having several lengthy conversations via Whatsapp video, voice notes as well as a face-to-face conversation with my cousin…it became clear that the true nature of our problems lay with me.
You cannot duly blame someone else until you’ve walked away from a situation knowing you’ve done absolutely everything possible to make it work.
Evidently – I have not.
My friend Aaron reminds me that this is a universal problem amongst men. That we must recognise women are different from us, and that surprises and spontaneity must be central parts of our relationship to survive.
My ‘hunter’ mentality kicks in, and I think predominantly about providing financially and nothing else. I get that from my dad I guess. The focus has been on ‘providing resources’ and nothing else.
Anyway, I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but I want to point out to all the dudes reading this – that if you struggle like me – with not focusing enough on the romantic aspects of your relationship because your obsession with work pulls you forward….
Then build romantic thinking into your working life.
For me, that meant setting accountability with my coach, with action points and to do lists. For me, that also means (evidently) writing this post because I further want to cement romance into my mind. And for me, that means elevating myself to a higher standard.
I must not complain about ‘wants’ or ‘needs’ until I’ve done everything within my power to provide and make Daniela feel loved and wanted.
Practically that has meant; cleaning the kitchen before I went out on a Friday night, including racking the dishes up in the dishwasher, bagging up the trash and then buying her favourite ‘dessert snack’ – Mikados and berries. The night before it meant booking a couple’s Swedish massage for us to share (although mined turned to sports so I was elbowed the sh*t out of for an hour), and buying some scented candles and a recyclable make-up remover kit for her.
And then of her own accord, she booked a rooftop dinner for us and suggested we watch a movie together on the sofa.
As simple as that to add love and vitality back into our relationship.
There are so many lessons for life, and business within the education my idiocy and complaints as well as Daniela’s response have given me over the last several days.
What’s even more telling is that she did not say anything of my complaints (which I stupidly made before she was headed for the clinic to care for her osteopathic patients).
Upon my return she said ‘I had to put it out of my head to focus upon work’ and she was calm when I returned to discuss my complaints.
And then here comes the irony of this all.
In the end, it is I who was the emotional creature, and her the rational one.
Thanks, my love.
Without even meaning to. You teach me.