My grandmother once told my mother and I she’d only had two good days in her life; and one was the day she was married. It was her feisty way to get our attention and offer us her little wicked smile. And while I knew she’d absolutely had more than two good days in her life, I also knew among them, was the day she married my grandfather. In her words he was, ‘very good’ which, for an unsentimental gal like Frieda, meant he was heaven sent.
Towards the end of my marriage, I remember seeking out relationship self-help books and finding a plethora of material like: How to Be an Adult and Why Can’t You Read My Mind. With so much help out there, how could any couple not survive? Yet, I was going through a divorce. I wondered then, having had such a great marriage, what Frieda’s relationship self-help book say.
I thought about possible chapter headings:
Everyone says, “I love you,” too much
Frieda believed people diluted the phrase’s meaning by saying it to everyone from their spouse to the postman. As if your affection for the stranger handing over your mail was the equivalent of your affection for your life partner. Maybe, in my relationship, if we’d focused less on saying it, we would’ve paid more attention to the intent behind it.
Exercise? Clean your house.
Applying this to the book, I think it means not to look outside for ways to be happy. Of course, you should have friends apart from your spouse, but always keep your relationship “clean” first. My husband and I spent less and less social time together towards the end. We should have, perhaps, “cleaned” our relationship first and figured out why we weren’t spending our free time with each other.
Fat free is for sissies
Whenever she saw my mother serve any diet foods she’d refuse them. She believed in purity in all things – especially food. Never skimp. Is that what I did in my relationship – skimp? Were my husband and I in a low-fat marriage? Full-fat relationships, mean you’re taking it all in – the good, the bad, the boring, the annoying – everything. Maybe you’d die of a heart attack years later, but as my grandmother would say, at least you lived well.
Loyalty meant everything. She said what she thought – always – but at the end of the day, she believed in calling a truce and staying together. Who knows if my husband and I would’ve made it or not had we been more loyal to each other. Perhaps it would have at least made us think twice when we argued; perhaps we wouldn’t have been so quick to blame the other. More loyalty might have meant that we could’ve agreed to disagree and move on from there.
So there you have it: relationships Frieda-style. Does it stand up? Maybe one day, I’ll have the chance to try it out with someone new.
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