Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Category: Love (page 2 of 3)

Sex and Vacuuming : A Game of Mutual Selfishness

Kathy Lette’s If Your Wife Doesn’t Want Sex Then Try Doing the Vacuumming article echoes the Annabel Crabb‘s The Wife Drought re having it all and needing a wife.

Like the old expression, “Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage“, there isn’t much of that anymore.

Yes, unfortunately, I’ve heard this all before.

In the throes of a disintegrating marriage, I turned to reading books many of which made the same recommendations.

The prescribed panacea was that if a man did more housework or spent less time with his mates, marital bliss awaits.

In truth I did step up and I fervently believe that men should (see Having It All). But there’s no guarantee of reciprocation. Not that reciprocation was my motivation.

Unfortunately, the opposite argument is of course is that the woman should do more. As set out by Laura Doyle in her book the Surrendered Wife where women need to step up so the man can step down. Again there’s the implicit guarantee of reciprocation.

These viewpoints seem to treat marriage as some sort of reality show (Wife Swap perhaps?). Marriage is seen as a game where you amass points for doing the right thing, are penalised for doing the wrong thing and receive or forgo prizes. Marriage in this light seen as territorial and transactional with winners and losers.

My real problem with all of this is that both viewpoints are both motivated by the guarantee or expectation of reciprocation. If I do this, I get that and if you do this, you get that.

What that creates is a relationship based on mutual selfishness. Both partners keep score and amass points and expect to be rewarded. The problems occur over keeping track of the points, rewards, penalties and prizes. From my personal experience after arguing over that there’s little energy left for vacuuming or sex.

Nor does it foster much love. Nor create an environment that fosters compassion and generosity.

So what’s left from this? My dull insight is this. Perhaps we could try an unselfish love for oneself and for others for a change? Perhaps we could create an environment of compassion and generosity?



Mothers Day is for Everyone

It was Mothers Day. That Sunday we (my then second wife Tracey and I) were with my youngest sons for their access visit and sleepover.

English: Mother's Day card

English: Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That Sunday morning, I quizzed my sons.

Did you give your mother a card for Mothers Day? Yes, they chorused.

Did you want to phone her? Yes!

A quick hello to their Mum on the phone and that’s that.
Mothers Day is over. Better remember to call my Mum that evening

So far so good.
But then something odd happened.

Eliot, my second eldest son walked up to Tracey. And he had something for her. And he handed her what looked like a folded piece of paper.

By now I was intrigued. This was unusual. His brothers often drew pictures and gave them to us. But rarely Eliot, if at all.

Tracey opened up the hand made card. She was speechless and more than a little moved.

My son had given her a Mothers Day card! And his brothers gave her the cards they had made.

She had asked me previously what to do and how to act to my children. I advised her just to be yourself. I had no idea if that was any help at all. I literally said the first thing that came into my head. After all, I didn’t know what to do or act either.
She got her answer that Mothers Day. And never any argument from me about how she treated the children.
Later I took Eliot aside into the study. For a second, he probably thought he was going to get into trouble. Only for a moment. I asked him whose idea was it to give Mothers Day cards to my second wife. He admitted it was him.
I told him that I had never been more proud of him. Ever.
He knew that Mothers Day is for everyone. And that anyone can be a mother.

Rumi’s Puzzle of Love

08 07 Butterfly Puzzle 26

08 07 Butterfly Puzzle 26 (Photo credit: cachew)

Though long deceased, the Persian poet Rumi regularly sends me quotes on Facebook.

Last week’s quote was “To find the Beloved, you must become the Beloved.

I was puzzled. And I tried to analyse it. And became more puzzled.

So this time took my advice to others: when puzzled, describe don’t explain!

So while I’m still puzzled, I’ll describe its meaning to me.

Rumi and other Persian poets write about the Lover loving the Beloved. The love is a quest. The Lover must journey away from and then towards the Beloved. The Lover is transformed along the way.

Does he mean the Lover loses himself (herself) in the Beloved? The Lover then becomes the Beloved. Which could be slavery or unselfish love for another or empathy.

Does the Lover end up loving himself (herself) thus becoming the Beloved? Which sounds like that selfishness which requires slavery from others.

But suppose the Lover loved himself (herself) with the same (unselfish) love as he or she loves the Beloved? Puzzle solved.

Rumi’s real puzzle:

  • Love others unselfishly
  • Love yourself unselfishly.


Of Happier Things

And now to speak of happier things as my Dad says. As you may have already read, my sister was married last week.

How I did behave at her reception? Perfectly. Well almost. I spoke to anyone and everyone.

I said this wedding shows the good you do returns to you.

Let there be more of that! Especially after the terrors of yesterday.

Weapons of Mass Destruction : Sandy Hook Connecticut

Early weapons models, such as the "Fat Ma...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What happened in Sandy Hook, Connecticut is proof that guns are just another weapon of mass destruction.

What happened negates that tired old adage from the gun lobby “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Which means it’s easy to blame the shooter.  Which is the standard operational response for tragedies like this. But these shootings still keep happening.

Guns kill. That’s what they are designed to do. How can anyone give succour and comfort to the victims by saying  “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”?

Like President Obama, I’m a parent too and simply see no point to this. And in a few weeks or months, what is the point that once the victims are buried that this is forgotten?

Should these children and teachers have died in vain?

Why should this happen again and again? This time no more.

Sign the petition and save lives. Time to ban weapons of mass destruction everywhere!



The Wedding Dress

My sister was married last weekend.

The only inconvenience on the wedding day was this. Our hotel room was makeup and hair curling central.  Which means that around 8 am we had to be out! In the end we returned three quarters of an hour before the ceremony.

My Sister

My Sister


I softly knocked on the room door and was asked in. There was my sister by herself. In her wedding dress. And this moment was probably  the only quiet one that she would have today. Hopefully we were not unwelcome. We weren’t!

But even to my untrained eye, the dress was her and she was the bride. And we couldn’t say anything. Just looked at each other waiting for someone to say something.

And yes somebody did ask to take her picture!

I’m Better Than I Looked

Last weekend I travelled from Melbourne to Nowra for my sister’s wedding.
As the designated passenger I received a phone call. The news was my dad had fallen and was now in hospital. As I result my brother and sister in law altered course to see him. When we arrived Dad (in his eighties) looked like he had been fifteen rounds with Mike Tyson (and had won)! I was last to see him. And I asked how he was. His laconic reply, “Better than I look”. Then he said, “Andrew, I’ve been thinking about you and I’m worried (I recently lost my job). How are you?”. Yes better than he looked!

The Happiness Test

After a break up I was asked what happened!

Here are the questions that match the answers:

  1. Do I make the other person happy?
  2. Does the other person make me happy?
  3. Do I want to make the other person happy?
  4. Does the other person want to make me happy?

The Empathy Gene

Question MarkSeveral years ago, my three year old son asked me the question I will never forget. “Daddy, are you happy?”
And that time, my marriage had completely disintegrated. I wasn’t happy.
Almost silenced, I think I said yes.
But he knew I wasn’t happy. I mean how could he know? Why would he ever ask?  Did I father an empathetic child?
How could that be? I wasn’t an empathetic child.  I was rational and unemotional.
But even then there were times that I knew other people’s feelings. At least once, I gave advice and then was asked, “How did you know that?”. Another time I gave career advice and a bystander asked, “What did you just do?” A third time the person I spoke to ran away.
The funniest thing was when it happened I wasn’t surprised. It’s what I do. It keeps happening. Maybe I was always like that. Perhaps there really is an empathy gene.

On Unselfish Love…

There is almost an obsession with being loved unselfishly.

Out there is the perfect person who will supply your needs forever.

Your mission impossible is to find that person, convince them to love you and you will be happy forever.

And you will love them back, but secondly.

Unfortunately, this love is the one that makes the world go round.

And yet there is no freedom in this love, only obligation.

For me, I thought that if I loved someone unselfishly they would love me back unselfishly.

I was wrong. I found that out the hard way.

Such unselfish love is still obligation: it is still a deal: it is love transactional.

Now I have created a contradiction. But there is an alternative. It is not for everyone though….

Perhaps this story might throw some light on the dilemma. I came across this Sufi story about a week after my second marriage failed:

“A lover came to the dwelling of the Beloved and asked to be admitted.

‘Who is there?’ the Beloved asked.

‘I am here’, the lover answered.

The Beloved refused to admit the lover. After wandering in grief and longing for years, the lover returned to the Beloved and begged to be admitted.

‘Who is there?’, the Beloved asked.

‘You alone are there’, the lover responded.

The door opened.”

I was deeply moved by this story. Instantly I knew its meaning. As I wrote this I drew even more insight from it.

The lover cannot be selfish: all grief is gone.
The lover cannot be obligated: he or she is free from everything that would thwart unselfish love.

The lover is free to love.

For me I have some way to go.

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