On relationships: Lucius’ case

The study-sessions had just ended. Lucius was heading home in the streets of Rome carrying a book and saw his friend, Aulus, walking with a high pace while he himself carrying something that looked much less like a book and more like a bottle of wine.

Aulus told him Gavius was having an early dinner and had invited some friends and he then asked Lucius to join him.

They ate, laughed, talked about old times, reliving memories before they all had wives.

A few hours later the dinner had finished and Gavius stated to the company:

  • Welcome my dear friends and thank you for accompanying me tonight.
  • Blrblrlrnlrur (Thank you). Answered the party but unsynchronized so it sounded like a blur.
  • You’re not nearly enough drunk I see so tonight I’m providing with the wine and you’re more than welcome so enjoy yourselves while your wives are kept at bay.
  • HAHAHAHAHAHA. Roared the crowd.
  • Out of curiosity; why would you want to keep them at bay, aren’t they your loved ones? Asked Lucius.
  • Young roman, there are demands, rules, responsibilities, codes, guidelines, obligations and worse: there are more on each one of them than you can count! The crowd of men replied, synchronized this time.
  • You see Lucius, a woman by herself is a wonderful creature. The pleasure and smiles we receive and get from them, the caresses under the bed sheets, their smooth and soft skin and the sweet scent from their bodies, ooh the wonders. But then there’s the commitment to a woman such as your wife and that implies so much more, that’s what my friends are telling you. Gavius kindly added.
  • Since I’m a novice on this subject, would you mind teaching me? Said Lucius appealing to Gavius.
  • Of course, Gentlemen gather around! You should listen to the conversation I’m about to have with this young man Lucius and aide me if I fail to satisfy his curiosity. Said Gavius.Go ahead then Lucius.
  • Well, I heard them say commitments involves obligations, rules, codes and even more so than I can count. Why are there such things at all?
  • These are the things that constitutes a commitment to one another, when setting a relationship with a woman you more or less agree to give up a certain amount of your everyday-life in order to satisfy her needs.
  • What are those needs?
  • There are two kinds. One is the pleasure the flesh and then there the one’s which we’ll never quite understand and that’s what gives a rise to all these demands and rules, and we don’t understand what it is really.
  • Why do you set aside the things you might be fond of just to satisfy a need which you don’t understand?
  • What else are we suppose to do? We simply must prove to honour our commitment by giving up certain things and hope that it’ll make them happy. (The other men nodded agreeing with Gavius)
  • Has it ever worked properly?
  • What do you mean?
  • That would work if happiness was just a state of bliss rather than an attitude towards life, so does it actually help her to achieve the attitude of happiness when giving up the things you’re fond of?
  • Well, she is happy at least for a while.
  • It is your wives so I can assume they all love you, doesn’t it sound rather mysterious that they’d put an enormous strain on your ways of living just to be happier?
  • You’re right. It is mysterious. Yet again, there’s nothing more mysterious in the universe than a women of course.
  • Is it truly love then? One giving up his things gradually to please a need he can’t understand.
  • It’s not one side that gives up everything. Imagine two separate world-views, two ways of living, two philosophies, clashing together. There’s got to be some sort of compromise while setting the rules for your relationship.
  • How does that happen?
  • Well you have to ease into it while courting her but no serious obligations are stated until you engage in the relationship.
  • So it starts from the very beginning?
  • Yes, while courting her you can be assured that she too will be hinting rules for the possible relationship that may come.
  • I don’ like the sound off that. Lucius mumbled.
  • Why? Is there anything strange with that?
  • Well, it’s just that starting of with rules and gradually ad to them until you have a shared world-view seems like quite a battle for me. Does this imply that in getting into a relationship one must fight to keep as much as he can from his own world, the things that collectively make him happy, he now has to give parts of it just to satisfy the commitment? And she too will have to give certain parts of her life to do the same, isn’t that hurtful to ones wellbeing?
  • It may not be as beautiful as being blessed by Venus but that is the nature of a commitment to a relationship.
  • How can you then expect to be happy when you’re giving up the very things that make you happy and then allow her to do the same?
  • We do so for the greater happiness that comes with the commitment of a relationship to a woman.
  • How come most of you men here seem quite happy with a rather cruel joke about keeping your wives at bay while you are engulfed in wine among good friends reliving your past memories?
  • Because we had the best of times together in the old days. Said Gavius staring into the ceiling dreamingly.
  • What happened to the greater happiness that was supposed to come with the relationship?
  • It did come but perhaps not as long as we would’ve wanted but we get it from time to time.
  • Moreover, I noticed you all have the same problem. Isn’t your precious loved one a unique woman compared to everyday else here Gavius?
  • But of course she is, our love is exceptional.
  • Is that what you all think of your relationships?
  • YES! The men answered
  • How come your problems aren’t exceptional then? Why are you having the exact same problem as one another?
  • Well..uuh.. Gavius stuttered
  • Let me take over Gavius! Cassius interrupted and took a seat in front on Lucius.
  • Why we share the same problem you ask. It’s because the many rules and demands set upon us by women are very much alike.
  • If your loved ones were unique and exceptional, why would making them happy require the same kind procedure no matter which it is? Don’t you lose your personal character then?
  • Oh, don’t get me wrong young man. The rules don’t always suggest what is required to make them happy but as we get to know them we learn how to make them happy?
  • How do you learn those things then?
  • Through conversations and even more conversations, she let’s you know by hinting suggestions on what would make her happy and so you do whatever you can to oblige.
  • So there’s really no element of surprise to it at all, she can more or less expect the things you’re about to do?
  • Well, kind of.
  • Is there any room for your personal character in that sort way of making her happy?
  • Yes of course, I take her suggestions and I ad some of my own personal preferences to it, but it doesn’t always end up too well unfortunately.
  • Why is that?
  • Because, way too often they’d prefer if you somehow read their mind and then executed the whole thing exactly like they imagined it.
  • And if it were something you wouldn’t regularly do?
  • You do it for her to show her your love.
  • But it’s your love, aren’t you the only one capable of knowing how to best express your love towards her?
  • Yes, I guess I am.
  • Doesn’t it mean that by doing what she pleases nips away parts of the unique character you have in settings without her company, for example a setting like this one?
  • Yes of course it limits the extent to how I can express myself but it’s for her happiness.
  • If you were to express yourself in any form you pleased, what would that form be?
  • I don’t really know actually, haven’t thought thoroughly through it but I guess it would be music, my flute.
  • I’d like to suggest that in order for you to take pleasure in her happiness you’d need to express yourself in the that suites you the best and ad that you do it independent of her thoughts on the matter.
  • That’s quite a position you take young man, how could a man get away with such a thing?
  • From what I’ve heard so far it obvious that you as a couple were happier together before the commitment with one another compared now that you’ve engaged in a relationship. Before you had serious obligations and rules you were already getting along quite well, otherwise you wouldn’t consider a relationship. And all that without demands or rules that forces a change to your behaviour, why then should you change in order to please her when she was happy before?
  • I see where you’re going with this but you must remember that there are two different worlds merging into one so one can’t bring everything with him to his new world, instead, he sacrifices parts of his life in order to gain a common world with his loved one and that’s when demands and rules really starts but you do that for the greater happiness.
  • Does one really have to sacrifices as much as Gavius said in this new world in order to make his wife happy, and perhaps even the some of the forms which you use to express your love?
  • As Gavius said; it’s not as beautiful as perhaps being blessed by Venus but that is the nature of a commitment to a relationship.
  • But it sounds partially cruel to state such thing.
  • What kind of thing?
  • That a woman in some cases might require a total sacrifices of a mans world in order to be happy and pleased, even a mans passion for music.
  • But it’s not like that, I meant….uuh..
  • It IS cruel! Interrupted Claudia, the wife of Gavius, as she entered the room full of men.

The room fell into silence as she walked graciously through the party of men towards the centre where Lucius was seated together with Cassius and Gavius, took a seat among the three, gave Cassius a rather harsh look and then turned towards Lucius.

  • Young Lucius, I heard quite the amount of the conversation you were having with these gentlemen and I’ve enjoyed watching you make them stumble upon their words. I can assure you that if a gathering consisting solely of women was confronted with your questions, the conversation would’ve taken a similar course of events.
  • By that you mean tha..
  • Yes! Said Claudia interrupting him. Men too have quite the amount of demands and though they may sit here and complain about what they sacrifices for the relationship, they will not consider they amount we too have to give up in order to honour the commitment of our relationship. The demands we have to take into consideration just to please them and make them happy takes quite a lot out of a woman.
  • How can you claim such things, we men sacrifices much more in order to please your demands. Cassius madly replied with anger.
  • Wait a minute; I can see the problem here. Lucius said.
  • You seem to think in and odd way, let me ask you a few questions then. Said Claudia calmly to Lucius.
  • I do not claim to have the right answers since I’m still a novice but I’ll try my best.
  • You just stated that you could see the problem behind our conflict, what is it?
  • It’s the merging of the two worlds itself. Clearly while courting each other you don’t start merging the two separate worlds rather you introduce them and actually enjoy doing so. When engaging in the relationship you sacrifice parts of the world you originally enjoyed sharing but in order to compensate for the loss you set obligations and rules upon each other hoping that they’ll lead your spouse to replace the world you previously had or was reaching for.
  • Do you mean that merging our way of lives is impossible then?
  • Let’s put it this way: everything about your world-view is unique for you and that is what intrigues your partner when you’re courting each other. Giving up parts of the very thing the other is attracted to is a prescription for failure in the long run, especially if you find yourself having to give up more and more as time goes on.
  • I get your point but that doesn’t answer why we don’t seem to appreciate what we do for one another while being in a relationship. How do you explain that?
  • Well consider this; where are you most likely to feel comfortable, in your sofa or somewhere in the woods where you’ve never been?
  • My sofa of course.
  • Well it’s more or less the same thing if you engage in what seems like a traditional relationship. You try to merge two different worlds and you end in something you’re not really sure of what it is and it gets hard to know what to do and how to do it in order to make you partner happy. Because of that you find yourself being too dependent on the other in order to know how to please each other instead of doing what you did before and so you lose your unique character.
  • What does being comfortable has to do with the expression of ones love?
  • Is it easier to write something as emotional as a poem in the heart of your home or in strange woods?
  • In my home.
  • Why would you then find it easier to express something grand as love in a place where you’re not fully comfortable?
  • But that’s what the guidelines and codes in the common world are for, to help one another to express themselves. Cassius answered.
  • You mean the rules and demands Cassius that changed and perhaps even robbed you of your music?
  • Well..uhm..yee…
  • No! Claudia interrupted. Those kinds of rules are for maintaining the commitment to each other, the suggestions we give each other are to help one another express our love.
  • What you just said then is that in a relationship let your spouse know how you want their love for you to be expressed so you can enjoy it a bit more, am I right?
  • Yes! Cassius and Claudia answered at the same time.
  • Aren’t you taking something from each other by doing so?
  • What would that be? Claudia asked.
  • Your unique character, the way you express emotions as grand as love is the very core of your soul, it’s that separates you from everybody else, why would you rob someone of their extraordinary way of loving you?
  • It’s not about taking away but more like adding to it so you take more pleasure out the expression of their love. Cassius answered.
  • That is even worse Cassius. You’re saying that the way your spouse’s love is expressed for you is inadequate from the very start. And that as you enter a relationship with her you’ve already designed a scheme to make her expression fit perfectly with your ideal and that she will have to do so because of the nature of a commitment you’ve both have engaged in. It is somewhat dishonest to claim you love a person when her very core is not enough to satisfy you and that is exactly what you’re doing to one another. Does any one of you think that it’s possible to be happy in a relationship knowing that deep inside your partner thinks that your way of loving him or her is inadequate?
  • Of course not. Said Gavius re-joining the conversation.
  • Can’t you see then? The source of your slight resentment towards each other is because at a certain level your expression of love was rejected.Perhaps you aren’t aware of this but at the very least you carry a feeling of confusion on how to please them, that feeling leads to frustration towards each other and that frustration has shown to bear the fruits of resentment to each other in the end.
  • Wait now Lucius. Are you saying that the rules and demands, even the suggestions on how to please each other ultimately leads to us disliking each others company?
  • By the happy laughter your friends shared earlier this evening from your joke, their complaints about rules, guidelines, codes etc. seems to indicate that yes. Since your wife said a conversation such as this in a gathering with women only would include similar complaints about men I must conclude that the feelings you have towards them being kept at bay are more or less mutual.
  • What du you suggest we do then huh? This is how it’s always been, we can’t have relationships unless we establish rules! Cassius argued.
  • But we can. Said Lucius
  • How then? Claudia demanded.
  • Don’t merge your separate worlds, at all.
  • And why not?
  • Because you don’t have common aspirations, shared goals, same way of expressing yourselves. Instead of merging them, why not share them with one another; it is what originally intrigued your partner. In courtship you introduced your world to him or her, in a relationship you share it and allow the other to fully explore it.
  • But we do explore in courtship, and when we do combine we take the best parts of both worlds. Claudia said.
  • The best parts according to whom?
  • Well-uhm..
  • You see dear, there are a number of things that consists in another’s world which you would claim to be wasteful while for that person those things are needed because together with everything else their world it makes them happy.
  • What do we do when there’s no more to explore? Gavius asked.
  • There’ll never be a point when you find yourself knowing that much about her. Besides your own personal world, is it complete?
  • Meaning?
  • What am asking is if you’re completely satisfied with your world. Have you done everything you ever wanted to, written every poem, composed every piece of music you’ve ever wanted to, seen every place you ever wanted to see, are you the man you want to be and have nothing more to improve?
  • No, but that’s because I have a commitment to my wife.
  • Why didn’t you postpone your relationship with her until you had finished?
  • Well I did need her to express myself in my writings.
  • So she inspired you to a lot of your works?
  • Yes.
  • And she did so by doing what?
  • She showed things of her world I couldn’t even imagine, especially her dancing.
  • Claudia, how come you showed him such a wonderful dancing it inspired him to write?
  • I guess I was already familiar with his works so I tried tempting him with my dance. While dancing I ended doing so in ways I never imagined I could. She answered smiling towards Gavius.
  • Were you comfortable while dancing?
  • Yes of course, it was my own setting, my choice of time and he had no clue about it at all.
  • Were you aware that your dancing was what gave fire to the poet in him?
  • No, dancing was the best way I knew to express anything, I never imagined that it’d be to his delight watching me express myself.
  • And the poem he later wrote you, had you ever read anything like it from him?
  • No, that one was exceptional.
  • What happened to your dancing and writings after that?
  • We entered a relationship and so the decay of my dancing and his writing began when we tried to find ways to express ourselves in this new world of ours.
  • I guess you would’ve never wanted him to stop reaching for his aspirations in writing?
  • No, I would never. His writing gave rise to a dance I myself loved doing. If anything I would’ve encouraged his aspirations.
  • Not because it’s a rule of relationships?
  • Of course not, who needs a rule for that. I would’ve done so by my own will.
  • I too would’ve encourage her, and of course by my own will, to pursue the expression of her love that gave rise to poetry like never before. Gavius added.
  • So you see why most things, such as rules, obligations, merging worlds aren’t necessary for your happiness?
  • Yes, we do. Said Gavius smiling towards his wife.
  • Doesn’t this make my point then?
  • What about rules on betrayal to one another? Cassius asked.
  • What you’re saying is that outside a relationship you’re able to do whatever you please, right?
  • Yes, there are no obligations and you can do whatever you please?
  • Yes, in a traditional form a relationship it’s quite easy to se how the frustration of giving up certain things you enjoy could lead to betrayal. But Cassius, in the sort of relationship I’ve described so far. One that both Gavius and Claudia seem to recognize, would you really betray your wife with another woman?
  • I don’t know, I’m not quite sure myself if there aren’t any rules.
  • Let’s put it this way then; the things you’ve always wanted to do, your aspirations, what stopped you except for your relationship?
  • Well I didn’t have enough assets or perhaps connections with the right sort of people to make it happen.
  • Does any of those aspirations you have in life include sexual intercourse with a different women whenever you please?
  • No, I only want one that suits me and that I can bring along on this journey called life.
  • If your wife then had those assets and connections, if you were to tell her your aspirations, don’t you think she’d put her best efforts to help you reach you goals?
  • Why would she?
  • Because your world is full of delights and inspirations for her, you achieving your goals mean for her there’s even more to enjoy, more to explore, wouldn’t you agree?
  • I suppose.
  • This means that not only are you doing what you really want, but also you’d have the help, the support and all the encouragement you could need from her. So Cassius, in this sense, you are more free to do whatever you please because you have a partner willing to help you there and beyond.
  • How about bad habits then? How do you account for that without any demands in your relationship? Claudia asked.
  • I don’t know about women but certainly we men are aware of our bad habits. But even if your demands are not only to make it better for our relationship but us men as individuals it won’t help.
  • How do you do it then?
  • The same way you made Gavius write a wonderful poem. You get rid of your own bad habits and in doing so you inspire us to do away with our own. A man is not only more likely to do it if he’s inspired to it by you, but he’ll even do it happily rather than being grumpy about like a child walking home after being scold in school because of your demands.
  • So what happens then with our worlds in your form of a relationship, how do we come together? A man from the crowd yelled.
  • You don’t, you invite your lady into yours. You express your love for her in your own way, with the setting and the time that suits you, you urge her to explore your world, to enjoy it and then let her help you reach your aspirations.
  • And then?
  • And then you enter hers, by her invitation of course. You enjoy and fully embrace her expression of her love for you, if you don’t appreciate it then you should at least learn to if you want to claim that you love her, her expression of her love is as valuable as yours no matter the kind. And then you explore, see the world through her eyes and at last you provide with all she needs in order for her to reach her aspirations, not only for her but also for your own delight, that delight will empower your own way of expressing love. That my friends is what relationships are for.
  • My dear friends, I think we’ve learned enough from this young man tonight. It’s time you left my home, there are things I want to see that I’d long forgotten. Gavius asserted to the crowd with an enormous smile.
  • Yes, there are things I want to show my husband that I haven’t in a long time and I’d love to express them. Claudia added.
  • TO THE WIVES! Cassius shouted and lead the charge towards the door leaving only Gavius and Claudia behind.

Lucius was the last one out, and the last thing he witnessed was Claudia initiate a dance while Gavius was seated, staring at her with a look of profound admiration.

The other men ran down the streets. From afar Lucius could to hear the soft sound of Cassius practicing his flute on his way home to his beloved wife.

© Ami Fidèle


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