Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Men as Prize-winning Garden Plants

No doubt I am oversimplifying Men in General, but I have been happily married for over seven years, so I feel have more right than ever to air my hypotheses about men. The only difference is that I can get into trouble for doing so. Therefore, I will proceed with caution.

There are simple, straight-forward men, and there are men who are so complicated, they might as well be women. Try to wean yourself off the latter and train yourself to be come more attracted to the former. Learn to love the fact that they either say what they think flat out, or don't say it because they think they will be in trouble if they do. Believe them when, after you foolishly ask them what they are thinking, they say "Nothing." Men can literally sit or walk along for whole minutes not thinking about anything. As this is the point of exotic meditative practices, we should perhaps admire them for it.

Men are not women, which is one reason why we women like them so much. Why, then, are we so disappointed when they don't act/talk/listen like women? I suppose it is because, once we are married to them, we delude ourselves that they are an extension of ourselves. I am not sure what St. Paul meant about "one flesh" but I observe he said "one flesh" and not "one conversation style." And so our shock when instead of just going along with our expectations, they do their own thing and even have bizarro expectations of us.

We are also disappointed when they don't solve all our problems as neatly as the Earl of Worth in Georgette Heyer's Regency Buck. This is partly because men are very rarely early 19th century multi-millionaires. Georgette was a master psychologist--of 20th century women. If she knew anything about 20th century men, she knew perfectly well that they were not at all like her creations. However, she certainly knew that her creations were the kind of men her female readers wanted to read about.

That said, there is a stage of love in which a perfectly ordinary chap, despite not being a multimillionaire with a staff of poorly paid servants and, no doubt, vast sugar plantations in Jamaica worked by slaves, seems even more desirable than the Earl of Worth or the Earl of Rule, or whichever of Georgette's earls most takes your fancy. When you discover that this paragon, whom you secretly love, loves you, too, it is better than all of Georgette Heyer's novels put together. If you are like me, you even go a bit crazy and occasionally cry our of fear that the Paragon's plane might crash before the wedding.

Fortunately--and I read this somewhere, this is not a thought original to me--this "Crazy in Love" stage doesn't last very long because if it did, you would never eat properly, or sleep properly, or pay attention when crossing the street, and your brain synapses would burn out. The whole point to the "Crazy in Love" stage is to get two people so different that they could be from different species, i.e. a man and a woman, to agree to live together long enough to reproduce and ideally raise children together. Apart from massive family and social pressure, I don't know why anyone would do it otherwise. Surely it would be more comfortable to live in a sort of collective of people as much like you as possible.

Ann Landers or her sister Dear Abbey likened romantic love to friendship caught fire, and the flames of the initial attraction are supposed to burn down a bit and keep the fire going until has burned down to the very hot coals of old age, which go out only with death. It's a nice image, but overly dramatic for everyday life.

In everyday life, you have two people who want to be happy and live with a happy person and, if applicable, happy children. To me this is less like a fireplace and more like a garden. My high school Italian textbook said that if you want to be happy for an hour, get drunk, and if you want to be happy for a day, get married, but if you want to be happy your whole life, become a gardener.

It's a thought.

It's a particularly good thought for the UK, for the British really love to cultivate flowers and actually watch the Chelsea Garden Show on television when they do not attend it in person. In Canada or the USA, a man may resent being likened to a prize orchid, but surely he cannot be annoyed about this in the UK.

Indeed, in the UK it is a good thing to be treated like a dog, never mind a plant, for the British love dogs and in general are most kind to them. I doubt the people who take their pedigreed pets through the Historical Grounds expect much for all their endeavours on their dogs' behalf, save that they be happy, healthy and come to heel rather than savage the other dogs. Presumably the British expect even less from their prize plants.

When it comes to happiness, I expect it to come, first of all, from the will of God regarding my brain chemistry and then my own efforts. I happen to be married to be a very nice man with an interesting job and a splendid flat, but I know I could nevertheless be quite miserable if I chose, or if my brain chemistry went wonky. I do not expect--and I think this is a very important law of marriage--my husband to make me happy. However, I do see it as my job to remove as many obstacles out of the way of his being happy, insofar as this is a holy happiness, if you see what I mean. If some nasty poacher came purring around, I would see her off the property with a pitchfork, if I could find one.

In a way, being married is like being blessed with a really splendid garden specimen that could win a medal at the Chelsea Garden Show (i.e. heaven) as long as you water it and feed it and give it enough sunshine and make sure it is nipped by neither aphids nor frost. It has to be kept safe in the greenhouse (i.e. marriage) and poachers must be kept away for if it is stolen and replanted somewhere else, this will be very bad for it indeed.

This is not to say that this is always easy or that I am the best of gardeners myself. However, I think it is a useful metaphor in a time when we expect so much from marriage without, perhaps, knowing how to grow one.


  1. I rather like thinking of my husband as a prize-winning garden plant, now that you've developed the simile. I hope this helps me take care of him better and not take him for granted!

    By the way, I enjoy your writing very much - both style and content. I used to read Seraphic Singles, but dropped off when I went off Blogspot for a while. It's been a long time since I last read your work, but I was so very delighted today when I found that you are still writing on this blog. Thank you for sharing your writing with us.

  2. And thank YOU for your kind comment!

  3. I agree, this is a helpful way to think about one's husband. Realising one's husband will not be just like your best girlfriend is a hard lesson to learn and can be responsible for much unhappiness early on.
    I'd love it if you wrote more posts about marriage, particularly when two people have been single for a long time and adjusting to living together can be a challenge.

    Aussie girl in NZ

    1. Well, I will think about it. It may mean more consulting with B.A....

  4. I forwarded some quotes to my fiance. I hope I will find the strength and wisdom to cultivate our garden when we are married. Thank you for this post.