I read this article in the Sydney Morning Herald a week or so ago, and I’ve been waiting for the bile to die down so I could write about it without swearing. It’s about a man who’s setting up websites around the world to enable people to cheat on their partners.
Noel Biderman, of http://www.sleazyparasite.com.au (not sure if that website is correct)
So rather than rant and rave – I’ll save that for comedy and speaking gigs, they love it when I curse there – I’ll just tell a quick story and leave a quote.
For my 40th birthday my brother and two sisters gave my wife and I a Red Balloon voucher for wonderful weekend away in the Hunter Valley. Even more importantly, Mum and Dad offered to chip in with a “babysitting coupon” so we could go without our two boys aged 3 and 6. A few weeks ago, I finally organised the time off and we had a wonderful two days away. I am now 42 years old.
As we planned for the break we realised this would be our first in over five years. We talked about all the other things we’d squeezed into that same period of time. We’d moved back to Australia, found a house, I’d gone back into advertising, got a book deal, had a second child, changed jobs, finished my first book, had it be a bestseller, ran screaming from advertising, started comedy and corporate speaking again, had our first child start school, had both kids in hospital, finished my second book. How could we not sneak in a lousy weekend holiday? We really, really really needed a break!
I think the key lesson for us was that there was never going to be a free weekend that just “miraculously appeared” and made it easy to get away. We just locked it into the calendar, and worked liked dogs before and after.
Just like it used to be
When you do get away, it’s amazing how quickly you slot back into the way you used to be. By the time we’d driven the three hours from Sydney to the Valley, we were starting to feel like “Allie and Marty” and not “Mum and Dad”. We have some friends who talk about how things used to be “BC” (Before Children) and we could see what they mean. We were slower, calmer, gentler.
We pulled up at our accommodation for the weekend, a gorgeous, secluded little place called Wilderness Lodge has only has four suites, and – just what we wanted – is a couple of kilometres away from the main touristy area. It’s also in the middle of an expansive Olive grove, and incredibly peaceful. We spent the afternoon doing nothing much. (stop it! get your mind out of the gutter) We had a huge spa bath in the afternoon – just because we could – and as we lay back Allie said “Isn’t it luxurious to lay back in a bath without a toy shark sticking into your bum cheek?” I said “It’s brilliant to be able to do a wee without a three year old coming in asking something like “Are pterodactyls herbivores or carnivores?”
As we talked through the afternoon, we noticed that a typical conversation went like this:
“Isn’t the scenery here lovely? You really could be in Europe with the hills covered in vines and the olive trees. Remember that trip to Italy we had when we live in England? I miss that.“
Instead of this:
Isn’t the scenery here lovely? (Connor take your fingers out of your brother’s nose) You really could be in Europe (Elliot, beans are not lightsabers) with the hills covered in vines and the olive trees. (Finish your lunch or no ice cream) Remember that trip to Italy? (Boys, stop it.) we had when we live in England, (Right no ice cream for anyone) I miss that.
The next day, we went for a huge three hour walk and it was the best time of our weekend away because we walked, we looked at the stunning vineyards properly not from a car at 100km/h and (drum roll please) we talked. We spoke, to each other and no one else, for almost four whole hours. We hadn’t done that in five long years, except for those sporadic dinners when you’re so happy to be outside the four walls of your house together you end up ordering that second (sometimes third) bottle of wine and not remember exactly what you talked about anyway. It felt so natural, so easy, so just-like-it-used-to-be “BC”. It reaffirmed our commitment to each other and reminded us both why we got hitched in the first place.
Cheating on my wife, with my wife.
I may be playing amateur psychologist (when has that ever put me off), but I think if only more couples made time to have weekends away like this, those idiotic websites like the one above would never get off the ground. If we spent less time being addicted to the getting, we’d be able to enjoy the having.
It’s rare I find myself quoting Miranda Devine, but luckily it’s only a quote she uses in her column today from CS Lewis
”If you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned person for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them.”
As a writer it annoys me to admit it, but I couldn’t have said it better myself.