Relationship

How to stay happy in a relationship (7): Be There

我有一個女仔friend,是一個聰明能幹的女强人,嫁了個醫生。每每醫生先生在工作上遇上官僚制度感到工作不如意,都會回家和老婆訴苦。我的朋友一直在商業機構工作,所以慣常地以很商業的角度去分析問題,向丈夫提議很多在商場上很practical和sensible的解決方法。丈夫無法在醫生制度中使用妻子的計謀,覺得很氣餒無用。我的朋友就因為丈夫解決不了問題而覺得他執行計劃能力弱,同時又因為自己未能幫到他而不開心。

當友人向我傾訴她的處境時,我就問她,其實有没有想過,醫院的情況我們外行人未必理解,丈夫跟你訴說可能只是想你安慰一下,而不是真的想拿取advice?

其實很多時我們在工作上的煩惱,都是很難與外人說得清楚明白,就算最親密的陪侶,都未必一定完全理解。要花很多的唇舌去講個明白,就差不多要再次relive個問題。第一次面對問題時已經覺得煩惱,再說一遍怕不怕煩上加煩呢?

有時遇到有甚麼不順心,如果我想老公安慰,我會在開始講我的煩惱前,事先說明我想他安慰我,我知問題本身不是講兩講就不可以解決得到。他就會懂得聽我講完之後,講一些窩心的安慰說話,而不必花時間去討論或尋找解決方案。若遇到難以解釋的問題,我甚至會只走到他身邊,要求一個擁抱,這可能比任何說話更comforting。

外面的爾虞我詐,就由它留在屋外。只要知道回到家,有人支持有人安慰,一個擁抱一個吻,已經足夠。在最不愉快最傷心的時候,最需要的是一個可靠的肩膊,温暖地握着對方的手。甚麼都不必說,Be there,在他/她身邊,是最重要。

下一次你男/女朋友或老公/老婆開OT夜歸時,記緊要Be there,等他/她回來時給他/她一個擁抱,家是最好的,家人的愛是最好的。

(各位單身的朋友,緊記你的家人都是你的心靈支柱!飲過夜歸回家後父母留給你的老火湯嗎?)

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Is walking your dog good for your love life? – Part I

I’ll be honest and reveal the fact that I do not own a dog and I do not walk one. This article is basically another angle of approach for those who are ‘in the market’ so to speak, own a dog, and are looking to meet new people. I believe, with a degree of positive thinking one could open up a new dimension on their otherwise stagnant lifestyle and your dog will love it too because they will get to walk more.

Twenty years ago a dog was not a familiar sight on the streets or parks of the former colony and you would find that people had more children back then, so there was little or no room, or interest for that matter, in having a family pet. The old-fashioned family stereo-types possibly made it easier to meet a partner, settle down and raise a family however, times have changed. There are fewer children being born in Hong Kong, more work pressures, more hours worked and a lot less time for single professionals in particular, to find a suitable partner. It all seems so practical not to have a furry sweaty animal co-habiting in a gardenless home in a warm and humid climate, but then again, pet lovers would not agree and family pets are in abundance all over the territory, despite the sweaty aroma.

OK, so what am I getting at? For many ‘single’ established professionals in particular, there is a void to fill in their lives that money cannot buy, and that void is usually direct love and romance which comes in the shape of a partner, someone you share the most intimate parts of your life with. Meeting someone though is often so difficult that it seems an impossible challenge, a never-ending uphill tedious struggle, of sorts, often accentuated by the individual having criteria that is so far-fetched and unrealistic that they will always remain ‘single’. More on that in another article. You’ll find that many singles take up all sorts of new hobbies, travel a lot – often alone, which is not as bad as it sounds, do a lot more networking and socialising, and generally put themselves in the way of invitations more readily, all this in an effort to meet potential soul-mates or at the very least, a new boy/girlfriend. New hobbies and travel definitely open up a fresh circle of potential friends, but how often will you take up a new hobby or travel abroad? Definitely, not a routine plan. You need something that’s more readily available. Going out is a necessity to meet people and it generally will not come by flirting or virtually socialising on a social networking website. You need to go out! But, where to? Well, you can weigh up all the advantages and disadvantages of what you already do and ask yourself how successful your socialising methods have been, and how much enjoyment you got for the effort you put in. ‘Single’ pet owners can explore another avenue by becoming more active in walking their dogs. Don’t underestimate this approach. When most people are going out, they usually go with a friend or a small group. This is essentially a socialising support network and obviously makes it easier to go to bars and clubs. Your dog is your social support network and while you don’t take him/her out to bars, pet café perhaps, you do have the opportunity to walk him/her every day. That is a lot of time spent walking, usually at a slower pace. You need a genuine love of animals. Pets are not accessories. They are not watches, shoes or handbags. As in many parts of the world, pets are frequently abandoned by their ruthless owners because they don’t see them as animals, they see them as something they don’t need anymore – this argument belongs in a whole new article.

Your dog is your friend, a friend for life, and as with human friends, pets will take care of you. Having a pet, a dog to be specific, offers a realistic and down-to-earth avenue of attack to meet new people, potentially new friends. You need to go out! There’s that advice again. Don’t see dog walking as a chore, see it as exercise, and don’t leave the dog walking to your domestic helper – she could end up with the spoils. That won’t help you! And make an effort to look presentable – no pyjamas, stained T-shirts or scruffy hair – this is not going to attract the types you would like to meet. It is important to look natural, and for women, not made up to the nines – this could make you look a bit ridiculous and would possibly turn away the men you are looking for. Wear clothes to suit the weather and the activity.

Dogs love walking and need to be walked every day to keep fit and healthy. You need to find the time to walk the dog yourself – remember this is about you getting out and that’s an everyday routine, every day. Arguably, it is a lot easier to walk your dog in a park or quieter streets as the environment makes it easier to chat to other dog walkers. Nobody will stop to talk on a noisy polluted street. And don’t listen to music, nobody will talk to you if you’re listening to music, or talking on the phone. Chatting to other dog walkers is easy. You already have something in common – a dog. If you bump into someone you’d like to chat to, make an excuse by commenting on the dog. Say something positive and smile. You can spend 10 minutes just talking about the dogs, their habits, age, breed, feeding patterns, type of food, the pro and cons, grooming, etc. – it’s not rocket science, so it makes for easy conversation. If you happen to bump into that person again, you already are familiar despite not knowing anything about each other but you’ll already know the dog’s name, so this in itself is more personalised. You can address the dog first, affectionately, then the other party. Remember that the key focus for the initial stages should be the dogs and not the people. Over a period of time if there is a tendency for both parties to stop and chat then this is a clear sign that there is a keenness to interact more – and the conversation will eventually move on to non-dog related topics. It is likely that one party will initiate an invitation to do something eventually, possibly dog related or a gathering in town. Don’t underestimate these little trivial conversations; they could be forming the bond between you and another stranger –

So it seems that there’s plenty of room for a family pet, usually a very well-manicured, well-groomed canine, not to fill the void of a partner in your life, but as a companion and friend – think of your pet as a friend that can help you meet others, a social support companion as mentioned earlier, a kind of partner in crime, a displacement, or simply put – an attractive magnet. Dogs are born to walk besides other things and generally love the interaction with people. Choose your dog carefully. If you are a straight athletic man, you can’t be seen walking a Poodle dressed in a pink jacket. Being in the presence of this breed and in this guise could send out misleading signals and will probably attract members of the same gender. If you are not straight, then the poodle is perfect. There’s no guarantee, but you definitely need to be aware of the stereo-types attached to certain breeds so that the signals sent out are the right ones. Most sensible and humane people in Hong Kong have smaller dogs, for obvious reasons – no garden, remember?

Stay tuned for more in Part II…

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嫁外國人(3):學好英語

我以前有點抗拒同外國人拍拖,因為我十分enjoy講廣東話,有很多jokes都是要用廣東話講先好笑。我不喜歡經常都要在腦袋中翻譯英文,更十分之恐懼到到病在牀上,還要担心詞不達意,臨死都要翻譯人生中最後一句說話。

但最近經歷了兩件事,解除了我的憂慮。

話說有一晚,家中的scented candle漏蠟,在枱上燒到成呎高,發生小火警。我是第一個見到大火,第一時間大叫:“Burning! Burning! It’s burning!”Alan在瞬息間跑到枱邊,一口氣將蠟燭吹熄,算做有驚無險。回過神來,我突然想到,何解我在緊急關頭時,不是叫“火燭"或者“救火”而是大叫“Burning"呢?原來我的自然本能已經調節到在家中有緊急情況時會用英文求救。真是未試過都不知道!

昨晚,天氣潮濕,瞓到半夜三更,掛在牆上的風筒跌了下來,呯一聲把我們兩人都嚇醒,嚇到成個彈起來。一醒來,我聽到自己叫了一聲“What?”原來我講英文的instinct已超越了向家人求救,連自己在睡夢中的呼叫,都已經轉了英文台。

經過了這兩件,我意識到人的language是會因應環境而adapt。長時期在家中講英文,原來我已經習慣到我自己都不察覺那麼自然。我估我還有一段長時間都未死,到到幾十年後我估我的英文應該會更加揮灑自如,所以我應該不必担心臨死前要迫自己翻譯臨終之言,反而到時可能掉轉,要由英文思維翻譯回中文呢!

試過幾次跟Alan去shopping,有sales問我點樣學好英文。我都是行貨地答,講多點練習多點就可以。但其實事實擺在眼前,只要嫁個外國人,英文一定會進步!三個月學好外語,當然是騙人的大話啦!

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How to stay happy in a relationship (3):Be Loyal

虎年忌木。Tiger + Woods,對配偶不忠,定必身敗名裂,大凶!

It seems so obvious that loyalty is the backbone of a relationship。個個人結婚時都立誓要從一而終,只願一生愛一人。但事實上,不忠的男女又真的有千千萬萬。每年都不知有多少段婚姻是因為有第三四五者而破裂。Why?

我估要解答why,可先從why not想起。

不知道大家有没有同感,尋覓對象是一個很費勁的過程,又要make sure自己attractive,又要去social,務求可以在最優質的環境吸引到最高水準的perfect match。拍拖分手再拍拖,都幾傷心傷神。千辛萬苦找到了Mr/Mrs Right,settle down就不用再出去覓食,可以將energy focus on other things。Why bother to find other people outside of the relationship?

找個對象難,找到了,要經營維繫一段關係更難。兩個人相處時,總會有不同的意見和處事方法,要一段時間去互相了解,互相磿合。有些couple天生一對,可能花less effort,但很多couple都會要一段頗長的時間互相遷就,繼而慢慢改變,可能會改變到習慣了對方的方式而忘記了自己正在遷就。這個過程,不是每一對都可以pass,未能過關的會break up,然後又返回尋覓對象的stage。所以找到一個可以快樂地一齊生活的人,就不應輕易放手,心思思去試下外面還有没有更好的人選。

兩個人一齊長久了,總會遇上風浪挫折。我們就是從這些難關中成長起來,感情因而變得成熟。一段成熟的關係,有過去,有將來。反之,婚外情没有過去,没有將來。

Morally人類是mate for life。當然現今社會mating與lifetime commitment已不完全有關係。但大致上,我們還是相信一夫一妻制度,婚姻是不容許第三者介入。因此,如果你要容許有第三者,你就要接受你的老婆或老公有權walk away。為了一時之快而放棄花了無限心思和時間去經營的關係,計落好唔抵。咁蝕底的事,理智的人又點會做呢?

所以想來想去,我想不到disloyal的好處,就不如stay loyal啦。Put it this way聽落好passive,但就是這麼簡單的公程式。Loyalty = Stability,達到 equilibrium state,最平衡最安心的境界。

我不相信所有對配偶不忠的人都是喪心病狂失去常性的蠢人。我估總會有一些理性的聰明人,想過計過之後會覺得不忠好,選擇不忠。暫時我都未試過有一刻有這樣的conclusion,所以不能理解。有時有些事想不明白,對我,對我的marriage,未嘗不是一個blessing呀。

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How to stay happy in a relationship (1): Be Thankful

不知不覺結了婚都好幾年了。我覺得婚姻生活好幸福。我今日比我初初拍拖,和比我嫁給Alan時更加愛他。肉麻點講,真的有每天愛你多一些的感覺。相對地,我們認識幾對跟我們同一年結婚的朋友,他們全部都已經離婚,或者已經關係破裂分居了。簡單看看朋友們的失敗例子,已顯然而知幸福不是必然。我有時都會想,除了pure luck外,我們so far so good,到底有甚麼elements呢?

我想寫一些blog,跟大家share一下How to stay happy in a relationship。

BE THANKFUL

我和Alan的相處之道,是never take things for granted。無論幾小的事,我們都會appreciate對方的effort,say “THANK YOU”。我覺得雖然是夫妻,但他幫我做了任何事,包括幫我拿重的物件,在家中換燈泡,出街食飯由他找數,這些表面上是男人應份做的事,我都會show my appreciation。理由很簡單,就是我不想他認為煮飯洗衫是女人應份做的事,他就不必appreciate我。我想人acknowledge my effort,我就先要懂得appreciate人。

除了實質上的事項,我們亦會多謝大家的時間。很多時過了一個enjoyable weekend或者evening,我們都會thank大家,作為一個好的company去spend time together。兩個人的時間都有限,各有各忙,各有各的興趣和社交生活。我們選擇一齊渡過時間,開心的話都是因為對方being there。他大可以自己去玩,不是結了婚就事必要entertain我。而且thank him for a good time,也會reinforece and remind自己真的好lucky,過着快樂的時光。

每逢過時過節,送禮物,我都十分之grateful。感謝的未必是收到的禮物,而是我們之間的默契。我是個practical and sensible的人,不會想在情人節收到overpriced的鮮花。這些無謂錢可以留給年紀輕的熱戀男女去花。我們試過去翠華食Valentine’s dinner,但依然好happy。因為我們都知道自己想要甚麼,有個good company,浪漫的餐廳環境不一定重要。

每一次say “THANK YOU”,我都會好開心有東西有事情讓我表示感謝。Be thankful,其實最終得益的都是自己!

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嫁外國人(2):生活習慣

上次說到嫁外國人的好處,今日講講結婚後需要的生活習慣調節。

洗碗

愛爾蘭的習慣是用一盤熱水加洗潔精,將碗碟放入水中擦擦,然後用乾布抺乾,就當做洗完。他們不習慣過水,亦不覺得洗潔精是不可以食的化學物。我估他們全國人世世代代食了那麼多年都没有大礙,可能洗潔精真的可以食用,可能他們没錯。我就一向習慣用洗潔精後要過水過得乾乾淨淨,但因為懶,會不抺乾而放在碗碟架上風乾。我們兩個人同住後,就又會過水,又會馬上抺乾,double effort!

入屋除鞋

愛爾蘭人没有入屋除鞋的習慣,會著着出街的鞋行入屋企。就算屋企鋪了地毯,都照樣如是。我覺得將街上的dirt帶入屋不太衞生,但他們就算有剛剛學爬的baby在家,都會覺得將街外的細菌帶入屋可以增强baby抵抗力,吹脹!好彩Alan在北京時見盡條街有幾dirty,幾多人隨街吐痰,所以不用我去convince,他都不想walk home with the same shoes,自然習慣入屋換拖鞋。

沖涼

晚上沖涼,洗走一日的汗水,然後才上牀睡覺,舒舒服服。可能因為歐洲不似香港又濕又熱,他們都没有晚上沖涼的習慣。他們習慣早上一醒來洗澡wake up自己,我就不明白為什麼晚上乾淨地瞓上牀,起來後覺得要沖涼freshen up,點解刷牙洗面不多醒神呢?

看電視

家中看多了英文節目是自然的,但有一些無綫的節目在家看就不太受歡迎。第一是勁歌金曲。我知香港大部份的歌手都不會唱歌,没有talent,只得個樣靚。我自己都不太愛聽流行曲,但和Alan一齊看所謂的歌星表演,我都feel embarrassed,點解香港首首歌都差不多,歌手又唱不到live?第二種我自己放棄不和Alan一齊看的是電視劇。我會追多人看的電視,等自己不要太out,同人多d話題。但Alan一見到香港的演員都搏老命大叫大喊,他就會鬧電視,鬧得比我們知道劇情套套電視劇都是三角戀更加起勁!我怕他煩,所以我寧願錄起節目,等他不在家時自己靜靜看。

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嫁外國人(1):嫁外國人的好處

以前我在北京買了本書,名為"嫁個老外做老公"。北京新一派的女仔有些很崇洋,都想學好英文,嫁去外國過好生活。那本書介紹如何迎合老外的口味,還概括地generalise西方文化。我買那本書當然不是自己看,而是送給當時剛剛跟一個英國人拍拖的朋友。不過,没多久他們就分手了,我想那本書的tips都不太有效吧。

認識Alan之前我没考慮過要嫁給外國人,因為我覺得不知道IQ博士是誰的人太大文化差異,唔啱傾。當然識了Alan後,我就了解到文化背景原來不局限於小雲小吉,還有很多價值觀是兩地文化不一樣的。

就可能因為正好太不同,所以我不可以直接用我平時measure人的一套去apply於他身上,去judge他的行為,我只可以接受他的difference。例如我個腦從不休息,時時刻刻都在思考。我會不停地有新ideas,樣樣事都計劃得好仔細,日日都有時間表路線圖。香港男仔反應慢一點個腦轉數低一點跟不上我的思考速度,都會被我鄙視嫌棄。香港男仔會覺得我兇猛惡死,非常難頂。但換上了Alan,他覺得小事就不用太執著,不用太rigid地plan得太detail,應該relax些。我不會迫他陪我一齊秒秒鐘都在想東想西,我反而會淡然地(還是黯然無奈地?)接受愛爾蘭人laid back relax的處事方式,這反而令我變得包容。我相信只有和一個那麼大difference的人結婚,我先會有幸福。

去年落實轉行大計時,我真正感受到嫁給外國人的好處。因為laid back性格,他不會死守着保險線,要我一定要保住份有收入的工作。我覺得香港男人比較practical,計過數後都未必會支持老婆放棄高薪厚職。尤其香港大多數都是公一份婆一份,他娶你當日就打算你是專業人士,可以和他門當戶對地一齊contribute。霎時之間話要他一個人去撐起頭家,你去追求理想,實際的香港人就不是個個都會全力支持。更莫奢望他會有一齊去環遊世界體驗人生的浪漫。

嫁給外國人最大的防線,就是必要時可以跟他番鄉下,過優悠的退体生活。我可以每日照料他家的後園花草,過過日晨。香港人就没有退隠田原的option,只可以等拿MPF。

假如你是個慨歎港男不濟的姊妹,不防試試海外採購,或者會有意外驚喜呢!

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