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The Key to a Great Relationship

Being left behind taught me a lesson


Moonlight on the ocean. Low hills in background. Shadowed tree in upper foreground. Low hill covered in beach vegetation in left foreground.
The photo that caused me to be left behind on my 45th wedding anniversary.

I was deserted on my 45th wedding anniversary.


To celebrate the occasion, Rob and I planned a picnic dinner at a local beach called Cosy Corner. To whet our appetites, we walked along the stretch of white sand and dodged incoming waves. Then we arranged our camping chairs and esky on a cluster of large rocks overlooking the Southern Ocean and toasted our success at staying together for so long.


As we ate, the sun finally set, the tide came slowly in, and the moon rose.


When a brisk wind chilled the air, we left our no longer idyllic setting, packed the car, and started to leave. Then Rob suddenly braked, saying that he’d like to take a shot of the moonlight on the water. I peered over his shoulder while he fiddled with his phone and slid the car window open. Yes, it was worth a shot. So, I got out, shut the passenger door, walked behind the car, headed towards the beach, and crouched in the semi-darkness to get a good angle for my photo.


While I was taking the shot, Rob drove off.


I ran after the car, waving my arms and calling out, but he drove inexorably on and disappeared around the corner. After a hundred metres of running, I was puffed. I stopped to catch my breath and tried to phone him but there was no coverage out there.


I stood in the middle of the track, trying to make sense of this desertion. Hadn’t he noticed I wasn’t with him in the car? I only weigh 51 kg and my bosom mass is minimal, but surely he’d notice the lack of the bump my body would make against the upholstery in the moonlight filtering through the car?


Wasn’t he missing me? On average, he’s more talkative than me, but he’d been quiet the last few days, probably mulling over the past 45 years. Maybe he wouldn’t talk all the way home, so there’d be no need for me to respond. He might reach the house before noticing I wasn’t there.


Concluding I’d have to walk the 23 km home, I relieved myself behind a handy bush and started walking.


As I walked, I mentally scanned our years together I concluded I hadn’t been the perfect wife but didn’t think I deserved this sort of treatment. I’d tried to change his clothing preferences; wished he loved coffee as much as I did; wanted him to whisk me off to Paris for a surprise weekend every now and then; and hoped he’d occasionally bend me backward and kiss me in public as heroes do in the movies. But I hadn’t been argumentative, unfaithful, or a spendthrift. I thought we were going along nicely. And now this!


Thankfully, within a few minutes he returned, his face reflecting immense relief as he caught sight of me on the track, flagging him down.


He was apologetic. His excuse was that in his urgency to take the photo he hadn’t heard me get out of the car or the door shut. When he finally noticed I wasn’t in the car he checked the back seat. Then he recalled instances he’d read of instantaneous combustion, then wondered if I’d suddenly developed the power of teleporting, to visit my mother who was recovering from a hip operation 500 km away. His worst thought was that he’d been dragging me along the road, so he’d gotten out and circled the car, and knelt in the dirt to check beneath it, before heading back to the beach, stunned and worried.


His palpable relief at my safe return to his side was reassuring. I hadn’t been too bad a wife after all.

The Key to a Great Relationship


On the way home I thought about the moonlight on the water we’d both wanted to photograph. And because of what had just happened, I also thought about our relationship. I found an interesting analogy between these two things.


Light has a perfect relationship with everything.


Light doesn’t change what it shines on. It reveals it.


Light doesn’t mold, dent, or attack what is in its path. It just shows what is.


The moonlight didn’t change the water. It revealed its beauty.


The best relationships have that quality of light: those in the relationship reveal the beauty in each other.


A perfect partner is like light – they don’t mold, dent, or attack the other.


They shine their light on the other, to reveal who and what that person is.


The years are rolling on, and I’m not sure how many more Rob and I will have together. However long it is, I’ll try my best to have the quality of moonlight on water, to further enrich our relationship.


I’ll try not to find fault but illuminate what he already is.


In the short time I got left behind, I learned a lot!


With love, Marlane

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