Readers' Submissions

As We Get Younger

  • Written by Vivek
  • June 6th, 2012
  • 10 min read


Here is something obvious, we do get older in body. It is as obvious as it is unstoppable. Here is something less obvious, in getting older some will manage to stay young in mind. By that I mean that some will develop sufficient interests to stay fresh and mentally alert and in doing so many find it increasingly interesting and compelling to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard to be precise, and to share with others all these useless questions on a range of topics which have made an impression on them and to which they have not yet found conclusive answers in the hope that a superior intellect or the infinite experience found in forums like this may offer either a respite or a confirmation to their doubts.

This is my first submission and as a way of providing an introduction, let me outline my short profile. I work as a trouble shooter consultant. My job involves a number of decent perks including reasonably well paid assignments and the opportunity to visit different countries in Europe but sometimes, inevitably, my recommendations bring misery to some, especially when a business model is not compatible with the sustainability of the very business it purports to develop and the consequences result in restructuring. To a great extent, I do not deal with just numbers but also with humanity and the latter is often the most interesting part because it never replicates itself from one situation to another although there are some basic traits which tend to be omnipresent and only slight variations on individual resources or financial independence distinguish one from the next.

I am not married but I have had the opportunity, and at times it has been a privilege, to spend significant periods of time with women from different cultural backgrounds to mine, many of which have become long term friends. By personal choice, I enjoy my autonomy but by the same token I have no aversion to the female gender and tend to accept people as they are, be that good or bad. After all, no one is perfect, least of all me.

Sometimes I will take a joint holiday with someone and sometimes I will travel independently. When I am working, I tend to be obscenely busy during certain periods but I also enjoy the relative freedom that comes with this type of job. If I am not on an assignment, I will head to Thailand to recharge my batteries and so far I have been over a dozen times with north and south being frequent destinations and Bangkok the mandatory transient hub.

I do enjoy the lifestyle available to a Westerner in Asia who can rely on a decent income. A celebrated author, W. Somerset Maugham, once wrote “Money is like a sixth sense, without it you cannot enjoy the other five.”

Having a sufficient level of disposable income does not make me a better person but allows me a good level of freedom. I travel to Thailand because of the warm climate, the food, the general landscape, the sanuk attitude of the local populace but I equally appreciate the quality of life I have in Europe and as long as I continue to be in good physical health, it is a great way to shorten the dreary winters we experience, from time to time, in my part of the planet.

Multiple trips to Asia, however, have convinced me that there is a vast cultural divide and I am not implying that one is better than the other but simply different. When meeting a member of the opposite gender with whom you may wish to investigate lessons learnt in physical anatomy, this is not always evident at first and showing an interest in local costumes may unearth some truths which may not always be agreeable with either your moral makeup or your life’s compass. Hence, I would rather be a visiting guest as opposed to a precarious resident with little or no rights compared to those we enjoy in Western Europe. My statement is not meant to belittle those who have taken the decision to live there or taken marriage vows but based on personal observations including for example the fact that as foreigners we cannot own land outright or the questionable stance on human rights and civil liberties. These are some of the reasons, but not the only ones, I do not plan to apply for a long term visa anytime soon but I am, nevertheless, fascinated by the environment, the friendliness of most people I have come across and sincerely besotted by the beauty of the landscape and the seascape in Thailand. By the same token, meeting people can happen in the most unlikely of places and / or situations.



Thailand


I discovered this forum almost by accident while browsing a travel website and someone recommended the stickmanbangkok site for the local nightlife. I was expecting to come across a list of recommended venues and reviews but there is a lot more here and after checking the various sub headers, I came across the readers’ submissions, which has an incredible array of personal stories and given that, quite often, the topic is “Relationships”, it has appeal and it lends itself quite well to dialogue. With that in mind, I thought I would share some of my views on a topic that seems to be of general interest to everyone and where majority of questions are often asked that is, “Guidelines for a successful loving and sharing partnership with someone meaningful.”

Caveat; I would suggest that the following may work in any culture but you may have a different take and the fact that your view may be polar opposite to mine would not upset me at all and, if you cared to share it, I would like to hear about it.

Not being married, you may think that I am an unlikely candidate for this brief essay. However, that does not mean that I do not have an opinion on how to achieve a successful relationship. If you feel the need to plagiarise these ideas and make them yours, please do so as long as they enrich and improve your life. If you end up deriving a commercial return from these ideas then try to remember who your friends are and ensure you share a part of your good fortunes with Stick so that he can have the necessary funds to improve the layout of his website (it took me ages to find this section), the contents of which are, by unanimous consent, already very popular.

Psychotherapists the world over are often debating what makes successful relationships. I am not in such a trade and my writing is simply a personal contribution and not an authoritative text.

When it comes to relationships, it seems to me, there is a wealth of commandments available in the form of distilled advices dealing with everyday life situations including sex, arguments, relationships with own children and those from previous relationships, work and how the demands of the latter affect personal life and much more.

Here is the first tip: Reduce or completely eliminate some of your thoughts from the everyday dialogue shared with your partner.

It does not do for everyone to know absolutely everything about you and you ought to consider leaving something in reserve before you become burned out and predictable.



Thailand


How to argue seems an oxymoron but I would say that arguing with good chances of success while avoiding undermining your partner and preventing them from them feeling humiliated is possible, which in Thailand achieves the very important principle of “saving face”. How to do that? Simple, argue on the contents and never attack the person. After all, if you fail to explore the issues, the conflicts will remain ongoing. By focussing on one issue at the time and letting your partner know how that makes you feel allows you to find the right solution without the need to take up a position. That also means that if you need to argue (in the sense of discussing) ensure the contents of your argument change often. From exploring the issues through an argument, an interest may be born just like it develops in a story. By the same token, even the most beautiful story can become boring and useless if repeated too many times.

And what about our body language and our words? Well, try avoiding demeaning or threatening gestures, high pitch tones, scathing language and the use of expletives. Try and remain calm, breathe slowly, do not interrupt your partners when they are speaking and look at each other in the eyes. It is actually possible to argue with style and never forget that we are all humans and we make mistakes but most of all we intend to love each other.

Ok let’s talk about sex. This is often an off limit topic, a taboo between partners. If your partner surprises you when being intimate, never ask “Where did you learn to do this?” and neither “Who has taught you to want this?” Instead choose and agree to use unusual words as command words, for example “Hippos” and if either of you says it during sexual intercourse it will mean “Stop immediately, I am not joking” and once you have chosen a word do not act like a clown making endless jokes with the word chosen.

On the assumption that you have a steady relationship, you may also wish to clear the air and resolve any logistical issues. For example room temperature (air conditioning on or off?). Alcohol during sex, socks in bed, use of dirty words, locking the door, lights on or off and many others. At times these are not just minor details to our partners and disregarding them can put intimacy in a relationship at risk.


Thailand


Try flattening any diverging contrasts of any origin whatsoever. To do so, take things lightly, use your sense of humour if you have one, smile and laugh a little more but avoid joking on sensitive issues pertaining to your partner. If you are that way inclined, consider the complexity of a question. Often, anger tends to revolve around a minor particular issue. Your golden rule should be to avoid fossilising on one aspect and to remember that gentle irony and self introspection is a fantastic resource.

Work your problems together because if you decide to do so is because you recognise that you wish to stay together and staying together is progress as working together is success and this will give you even more grounds for reflection on whether you have made the right choice.

Define together and, where necessary, legally define and arrange all your substantive agreements which, if unfulfilled, may create a financial liability for one of you or both. Doing so, will have the effect of protecting not only your relationship but also your business, your estate and, where applicable, people benefiting from those.

Find something to smile about every day. Ask each other if anything funny happened that made one of you laugh. This should be a standard after-work daily routine. Avoid dramatising by laughing and if you can do so, you may succeed. If all else fails, draft your 800 word submission and send it to Stick. No doubt, he will sort you out.

The photos are my own and taken during my travels in Thailand. If you wish to contact me or provide feedback on what you have read, you can do so at: [email protected]


Stickman's thoughts:

Certainly many Thai / Westerner couples frequently have difficulties broaching issues and often it is the inability to communicate effectively that causes a relationship breakdown rather than the actual problem itself which may not even be that big a deal.