Wednesday, 2 April 2014

How Strong is your Relationship?

"Something is happening and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr Fanshaw?" Danny, my after-work swift drink partner from accounts, often sprinkles his observations with lines from Dylan. It is his way of showing concern, even though he disguises it heavily with laughter and sarcasm. He had picked up on my worries about Caroline.

To reassure me further, he explained how people who work with numbers all the time have to let their hair down occasionally and it doesn't usually mean anything. Judging by the average length of his relationships, in Danny's case it never means anything. I'm not a worrier by nature, but I had made the mistake of completing a 'How Strong is your Relationship?' quiz in a glossy women's mag while waiting for my annual check-up at the dentist. I scored 'mostly Bs', which, according to Hermione Glissop, means my marriage to Caroline is hanging by a thread and I must take positive action immediately.

So when Caroline came home for the weekend, briefly interrupting her visits to Monsaint's business operations across Europe, I took Step One, which, according to Hermione, is to discuss your worries with your partner without accusing them of anything, thus avoiding 'the cycle of defensiveness.'

"I'm worried about you, Caroline."
"No you're not. You're worried about the World Cup tickets."
"The tickets would be fantastic. But what I'm really looking forward to is seeing a bit of Brazil, with you."
"The bit of Brazil in the vicinity of Maracana Stadium?"
"Yes, of course, that as well. I just think it would do us good to spend a bit more time together."
"I'm not sure how much time I'll have. You know I've got to visit the distribution centre in Sao Paulo? That's my justification for being over there."
"This is why I'm worried about you. You don't seem to have time for anything but your job."
"But I love my job, Robert. At least I do when Ivan will let me get on and actually bloody do it. Which reminds me, I'm going to have to go back to Italy next week. Von Wolfswinkle is over in Europe and it's an opportunity to open discussions with him about refinancing the company's loans."
I sighed. "Let's not talk about next week, you've only just got home."

I steered the conversation away from work and mentioned my visit to the dentist. I told Caroline about the magazine relationship quiz and that it said I needed to work on my marriage. You see, I do sometimes take responsibility.
"You don't believe that rubbish, do you?" said Caroline. Five minutes later she had the quiz page up on her tablet.
"Robert, can you pour me another glass of wine while I answer these questions?"
Five minutes later. "Do you remember Xena? Well she was telling me about these people in Fulham who help busy couples re-establish their relationships. I think I'd better make us an appointment."

For more adventures with my wife Caroline see

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Who are these people?

The world is divided into voyeurs and exhibitionists... It takes one of each to make a good marriage.

Robert and Caroline Fanshaw are an ambitious young couple trying to make their way in a complex world.

What happens when their private affairs collide with world events and the big issues of our times? Drama, comedy and x-rated scenes.