5 Lessons on Relationships from “The Last Five Years”

From Wikipedia because I’m lazy:

The Last 5 Years is a 2014 American musicalcomedy-drama film starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. Based on Jason Robert Brown‘s musical of same name, the film is written and directed by Richard LaGravenese.

last five years

The movie basically chronicles the love story of Cathy and Jamie in their five years together. It starts however with Cathy singing about Jamie leaving, then jumps to Jamie singing about their first night together… and so it goes, Cathy’s timeline moving backward while Jamie’s move forward until we get to their wedding day, and then we get the same moments told from the other’s perspective, ending with Jamie saying goodbye while Cathy recounts their first parting.

Presentation wise: mindblowing! Yet, none of the songs were particularly memorable. At some point they just seemed to fuse into one song… and I found myself walking out of the theater singing “For the First Time in Forever” — Yes, the Frozen song — instead of a song of the movie, which should tell you just how boring the songs were… and one or two of them probably sounded like For the First Time in Forever, otherwise why would I be singing that song??

Also, since the movie is about the ups and downs of Cathy & Jamie’s relationship, there’s really no clear plot/climax/message. Yet, watching it I was reflecting on my own relationship and realized there are very good lessons to be learned, as follows.

Lesson #1 — Being in a relationship means walking together side by side.

One of the biggest problem in Cathy & Jamie’s relationship I think was described in Cathy’s third song “A Part of That” in which she describes how Jamie drifts off to his own faraway land and while at first Cathy is happy because she gets to be a part of Jamie’s creative process, soon enough she sings the following lines: “And it’s true I tend to follow in his stride instead of side by side. I take his cue.” and eventually she questions whether she’s really part of Jamie’s world. And that’s the thing. For a relationship to truly work, both people have to be partners side-by-side. If one person feels like he/she is just being dragged along then you have a problem.

This is not to say that you both need to be successful, which seems to be the problem for Cathy: Jamie being a success while she keeps on failing. I think if a couple really are equals, then the success of one will not make the other feel neglected/invisible.

Lesson #2 — Being in a relationship means making mutual compromises and supporting each other.

This one was painfully obvious in the song “If I Didn’t Believe in You.” It seems that while Jamie tries to be supportive of Cathy, but he really has his dreams and career as his main priority. He seems to think that Cathy didn’t need to be cared for because she’s strong and Jamie says “If I wasn’t certain that you’d come through somehow… I wouldn’t be standing here now.” This song made it seem like Jamie was a nice guy who believes in Cathy and Cathy is the one who needs to fix her problems, but being in a relationship means fixing each others problems together, not soaring on while we let the other deal with their feelings.

No matter how strong a man or a woman is, the reason why she/he wants to be with you is because at some point they’re going to be weak and they’re going to need you to support them.

Lesson #3 — Being in a relationship means taking the time to make the other person feel special and important.

One of the moments in the movie when all the girls in the theater went “Awww” was when Jamie decorated their whole apartment to tell a story to Cathy and make her happy again despite having had an awful day. Well done, although at first I was about as pissed off at Jamie for forcing this girl who obviously needed peace and quiet to listen to his story as Cathy was, but okay, all is good in the end. AND YET… a few years later (though actually this scene came first), there was Cathy singing about how they could make the relationship work and Jamie went on to say that he’s going to leave soon and we find out it’s Cathy’s birthday. DUDE! You should be with your wife on her birthday, period.

Lesson #4 — Being in a relationship means keeping the flame of passion burning.

This is something that seems to be problematic for many people… at first you can’t keep your hands and lips and bodies off of each other, and then suddenly that flame is gone. And that’s when other people become attractive. No, no, no. No matter how old you get, be passionate about your partner. This is why you really shouldn’t be in a relationship with someone because you think they’re good looking because there will be a time when they no longer are, but if you love them for all that they are then it doesn’t matter how they look like, you will want to make love to them and be intimate with them all the time. And yes, that includes the time when you are no longer able to have sexual interaction. Intimacy and passion goes much deeper. But first, you have at least 10 to 20 years before the sex drive clears out, so make good use of it!

Lesson #5 — Being in a relationship means being honest with each other about everything.

If you feel like your relationship is breaking down, tell them. If you feel like you can’t take it anymore, tell them. If you are struggling with yourself because you’re finding someone else attractive, tell them! What are you afraid of? That they’d get angry at you? If you have a true relationship where you are equal partners who make mutual compromises, keep each other feeling special, are passionate with each other, then you shouldn’t have that fear. At the same time, if a relationship isn’t build on trust and honesty then you will not be able to do all of the other things.

You chose to be together, “try a little harder and bend things to and fro to make this love as special as it was five years ago.”

 

 

Let Go and Let God

We human beings are strange little creatures. It seems that because we are told that we have been created in the image of God, we end up thinking that we were created to be god(s). No wonder we become so frustrated in life, trying to plan our lives and then exhausting ourselves trying to make the plans work. We strive harder and harder to become better and better. We look for ways to gain more power, to control the world around us, the things, even the people. We compare ourselves with our neighbors and either boast at our superiority or sink in feelings of inadequacy.

But the Bible tells us:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

— 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

We are not created to be god(s), so let’s stop trying. Let’s admit that we are confused, that we have no idea what we’re doing, that we’re tired, that we have failed, that we are in fact very very weak. Let go, and let God…. for in our weaknesses, God’s power shines through.

On Memories of Past Loves

Blessed are those who do not have many crushes and ex-lovers in their lives, for you are saved from the random moments when your brain decides to throw a memory at you triggered by a mundane thing. Like the janitor’s new cleaning liquid that reminds you of the boy you had a huge crush on. Or a perfectly happy song playing on the radio that makes you cry because it was the song you once dedicated to someone on Valentine’s Day. Or a Facebook like from someone you once had a crush on who is now married with kids that makes you remember how sweet his messages used to be.

And don’t even get me started on how meeting up with a friend at a cafe gives you the chill or how someone’s text gives you a nervous breakdown because it made you think of that guy who turned out to be abusive.

What makes it worse is that you’re pretty sure you don’t have any feelings for these people any longer, but when these memories pop up it feels like your ground is shaken. It doesn’t make any sense, does it? To remember that you once felt something for so many different people? You question why it is that you remember this feeling, why it still makes you smile, or (in most cases) pierces your heart.

And then you remember that your past loves are lessons… every smile, every laugh, every tear, every scar, every memory, they are there to remind you what you’ve learned. This is why they pop up at random, it is when your brain decides you need a quick refresher of your course.

And you can look into the eyes of THE ONE and tell him:

“I’ve loved many before you in many different ways, they have shaped the love I have for you. Like a mosaic of different pieces, my love for you is unique, you remind me of all those I’ve loved before, yet at the same time I realise the difference. You are special, because you’re the last piece, the one that completes. With you, I will have a different sort of lesson, one that I have been prepared for by all the lessons before you, one that will never become a random memory, because it will go on until the end.”

Begin Again

Let’s be honest. I miss blogging a lot. And yet, it is so hard to actually start again after you’ve stopped doing something for a long time. And then there’s always that issue I have on where I want to blog, how I want my blog to look like, who do I want to share my writings with and more importantly who would I rather NOT?

I had this brilliant idea a while back on having different blogs for different types of writing, so I could be a book blogger, a travel blogger, and a theology blogger, and a random everyday blogger, catering to my different interests with different potential audiences. It would also allow me to use all the different WordPress themes I adore, and probably make it a lot harder for people to stalk me because who would have time to search out all the different sites I have and read them all, right?

Well, the problem with this brilliant idea is… I do not have the time, nor the energy to keep up with them. Then there’s also the issue of not knowing where I should post something, and eventually I ended up not posting anywhere at all. And now I miss it terribly, and it’s so hard to begin again!

Nevertheless, here I am. Re-starting for the zillionth time in my life. Back to where I was: one blog for all. I decided to not change my address this time around because I kinda like having the same username all over my social media profiles, so might as well keep this one for my blog. I did however get rid (well, actually I put them to private) of my old posts, because it’s always nicer to have that feeling of starting with a clean slate. I might eventually decide to bring them back up again, since I did want to have an archive of all my writings on the web, whether profound or ridiculous, happy or painful. We’ll see.

For now, here I am beginning again. I’m hoping this time I won’t be stopping.

Suatu Malam Ketika Hujan di Bulan Juni

Yang lebih tabah dari hujan bulan Juni
adalah
gadis pencinta
yang tak pernah tahu
bahwa ada yang merindunya
karena
tak seperti perindu lainnya
pria itu tak pernah mencarinya…

Sebuah balasan untuk puisi Sapardi Djoko Damono, “Hujan Bulan Juni” dan Khrisna Pabichara, “Suatu Malam Ketika Aku Merindumu”


Hujan Bulan Juni
Sapardi Djoko Damono

tak ada yang lebih tabah
dari hujan bulan juni
dirahasiakannya rintik rindunya
kepada pohon berbunga itu

tak ada yang lebih bijak
dari hujan bulan juni
dihapusnya jejak-jejak kakinya
yang ragu-ragu di jalan itu

tak ada yang lebih arif
dari hujan bulan juni
dibiarkannya yang tak terucapkan
diserap akar pohon bunga itu

Suatu Malam ketika Aku Merindumu
Khrisna Pabichara

Tak seperti perindu lainnya
aku takkan mencarimu
Karena kamu telah kutemukan
di hatiku,
tempat yang sarat hanya
olehmu

On the Reasons for Love

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“Do I love you because you’re beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you?” — Prince Charming in Cinderella, the Musical

It seems like an innocent question, something everyone asks whenever you say that you love someone/them.

“Why do you love him/her?”

“Why do you love me?”

“Why?”

Like there should be a logical, systematical answer. The answer should make sense, otherwise they question your statement of love.Because we’re told there’s a reason behind everything, and there are standards to what sort of person you could/should love.

The truth is, however, that when you are able to answer this question immediately (usually with a list of good traits) then that is not love.

No, you do not love someone because they’re beautiful, or smart, or funny, or kind, and you do not love someone because they understand you or because they always say the right things. You do not love someone for these reasons because beauty fades, the greatest minds will fail, some days people are sad and gloomy, there will be a time when they are unkind, they will misunderstand something you do, and you will argue.

When you truly love someone, you should not be able to answer why. Reasons are for liking people, for tolerating them, not for loving them.

When you truly love someone, you just do.

And when they fail to meet your standards, when you see the dusty corners of their souls and realize they’re nowhere near perfect — just like you are — you love them anyway, if not even more than before.

(Originally posted on Medium)

On Finding the One

I’m a hopeless romantic. This is an established fact. As such, I have always (ALWAYS) believed that you are meant to find that one person you’re supposed to be with. And yes, I do believe there is such thing as love at first sight. Obviously there are others who think the same way. Like Iain S. Thomas.

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Now, if you know me long enough or well enough, you’ll know that as a result of being hopelessly romantic, I have also been hopelessly in love many many times before. I have thought that I’ve found the one — perhaps twice, maybe more — but obviously they weren’t. Here’s a little secret though: every now and then I think of the people I once loved and those who once loved me back and I realize they’re still there. The memories linger, there’s pain and sadness, and a lot of sweetness, and they’re all part of who I am today.

So maybe it is possible to find that one person… more than once in a lifetime. Maybe there’s someone you need to find for a particular period in time, perhaps to teach you a lesson, perhaps you needed that person at that time, perhaps they needed you instead. And then eventually you’ll find the person who would teach you lessons for the rest of your life.

How do you know if the person you just found is the one you’re going to spend the rest of your life with? Well, you don’t. But you will know that you found someone. You will know that this is the person you need to be with at the moment. Your soul will look at that person and see that they’re a missing piece of your puzzle.

It makes sense, even if it defies all logic. Even if you claim your heart skipped a beat when you first heard their name and you were overwhelmed with giddy emotions when you saw them on twitter and you were dumbfounded when you saw him and you acted completely awkward when they talked to you.

When you find this person, things will happen. You eventually have conversations. You see each other again. You feel comfortable in each others company. You realize you can talk forever with this person, about whatever you like. You could also just sit in silence and it wouldn’t be awkward.

You would miss them, you would kiss them. The first kiss might not be the best kiss ever but it was perfect nevertheless. You would want to kiss them over and over again. All over, no matter where, but you hold back as a matter of decency, or just to see if they would kiss you back instead.

You would want to know everything about them, you would want to know what they’re doing, where and with whom (when they’re not with you), and they wouldn’t mind answering. You would say I love you because your heart wants to scream it out loud, and they would say “I love you, too!”

It would be a lie to say that things will be happy and glowing all the time. You will argue, you will go through rough times, you will think you made the biggest mistake of your life, and realize nothing has ever been more right. You’ll whisper a prayer whenever you can, you thank God that you’ve found them.

And you go on on that journey with the person you found. Seconds, minutes, hours, days. If this person is the one you’re meant to be with until the end of your time, then this person will be there. By your side, even when you can’t be physically together.