A Relationship Alphabet

The holiday season is now well and truly underway, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. While many of us have holidayed nearer home these past few years, particularly as the affect of the long drawn out financial crisis bit ever deeper, now that things ‘seem’ to be recovering more of us than in the past 6 years are planning to go abroad.

Although I live in Turkey most of the year, I decided to escape that heat this year by travelling to Albania, from where I am writing this blog on a thankfully cool and breezy bank of Lake Prespa, high in the mountains. Albania may be a poor country but it is rich in colour and cultural interest with a mostly warm and friendly people. So I am enjoying it more than I expected, when I first landed in that blistering heat of Tirana airport, at the start of the week.

tirana"
Photo by Serge Melki

But of course most people do go abroad, precisely for the higher temperatures, sun sea and sand, while for others it can be more about tasting the culture, the food and meeting people. Inevitably, when you put these things together, with the fact you are not rushing off to work every day, this new relaxed you may just push the door slightly (or kick it wide) open, so you can contemplate a new romance? If you have had a holiday romance before, you may remember that things didn’t always last too long beyond the flight home to cooler climes and your all consuming life. Or for some, particularly middle age women who get hooked on a delusion that they could somehow make it work, despite the waiter or boat trip guy being only half their age, disappointment is never far away because the boy is usually more motivated by their bank balance than their fading looks. I originally described this phenomena last year in Vomits and Mads.

And yet, there are still some romances that blossom and endure, despite the problems of distance or even the language. So how will you know that your romance is one of the few?

A writer friend of mine, now sadly passed away, once gave me a relationship alphabet that she would recommend to her friends, whenever they entered any new romance, not just a holiday romance. Her view was that as you get older, you have less and less time to invest in relationships that may ultimately flounder, so you must find the time to stand back after about 6 months and ask yourself a simple question: does this person match most of the requirements described in the letters of the alphabet and if not, are they ever likely to? The answer to which, can either motivate them to go on or simply cut your losses and run.

So I will reproduce the list, albeit a little abridged, which you can either read as a mild amusement or if you are serious about the new person in your life, you could even quietly test what you think you have against what you actually have in them.

tirana"
Photo by The Q Speaks

Listed below in alphabetic order are some of the crucial words that should be essential ingredients to any sustainable, loving relationship. Of course there are many other words that could be included but a solid basis for success should be achievable with these words:

A. Acceptance  There is little point in going any further with this test if you don’t accept each other as you are. Apologies are fundamental to any relationship and saying sorry, if you really mean it, is an act of love.

B. Belief  Goes hand in hand with acceptance, if you don’t believe in your partner, why bother?

C. Communication   If active talking is present in your relationship then your chances of success are good.

D. Devotion  I did say some of these were obvious.

E. Effort   If your partner sees that you are putting in the effort it is much more likely he or she will respond positively – but be careful: You both need to put in effort not just one of you.

F. Friendship  If you can’t be friends then really what is the point?  Forgiveness if you are unable to forgive, especially the small things, or say that you have forgiven some of the bigger things, only to drag them back up every time you have an argument then bitterness may follow.

G. Gracious   If you know you are in error with something, admit it and be gracious about it.

H. Humour  A sense of humour varies from person to person but if you are able to laugh at yourselves as well as each other then this can be a life saver.

I. Identity  It is important that you both respect each others identity. If you have made it this far then surely you liked something about your partner’s identity in the first place. Don’t try to prevent them being themselves, it will only build resentment if you do.

J. Joy  This word may not always be ever present even in the best relationships, as life can be difficult but it is far more likely to be exist if you can say yes to most of the other letters.

K. Knowing  If you truly love someone take time to know them inside out.

L. Love  If you are familiar with most of these words, then it is likely you possess love, the most important word of all! Laughter, laughing together is a great sign that you are comfortable together.

M. Mutual  It is healthy if you and your partner have separate pursuits but to keep things balanced it is important to share mutual interests.

N. New  No matter how long you are together there will always be new things to do or to discover.

O. Open  Some will say that mystery and mystique can be a magical attraction and indeed this can be true. However, if you are a closed book then your partner will struggle to really Know you, so let them in.

P. Patience  Love is patient. Once you have established that you love someone, this is one of the most important words in the love alphabet, be patient with each other.

Q. Quiet  In a noisy world, quiet can be a rare commodity especially if you can be comfortable in each other’s quiet moments.

R. Respect  You must respect the person you plan to share a relationship with before you even go there.

S. Sensitivity  Can be the miraculous string that ties all the other words together. Being sensitive to your partners needs and desire will allow you to stay in tune.

T. Truth, Trust  These words cannot easily be separated, as the first so often breeds the second.

U. Unity  You will never agree on everything, that is healthy and normal but if you can stand united when it really matters most you will make a powerful team.

V. Versatile  If your partner’s interest don’t fill you with the same enthusiasm at least learn to politely tolerate them.


W. Wow  The Wow factor is an exclamation of admiration, amazement, even. Let them know you admire them and try to compliment your lover more often.


X. X = Kisses because there should be a lot of them in any good relationship.


Y. Yearning   When you are away from your partner for any length of time you will find yourself missing them, wanting them, Yearning for them.


Z. Zeal, Zest  Never lose the zeal and zest for each other as you continue the adventure of your life together.

As I am currently travelling – my next post will be in 2 weeks time.


Why Earthquakes have Doubled this Year

If you think there have been more earthquakes than usual this year, you may be right. A new study recently found there were more than twice as many big earthquakes, worldwide in the first quarter of 2014 as compared with the average since 1979. So should we be worried?

After living in Turkey for a few years there are certain things you do almost without thinking about it: You never drink the tap water, you always, always check your restaurant bill and you notice every once in a while, the odd shake of the ground or just occasionally feel a jolt that can make you uneasy on your feet. These are of course earth tremors from deep underground or they are the reduced energy of a more distant bigger earthquake. On the whole people don’t tend to dwell on them too much and just accept that earthquakes will always be an issue in this region, and so you get on with your lives hoping that the next ‘Big One’ will be far, far away from you and yours. However, this head in the sand approach has been a little harder to achieve these past months after several TV news items about earthquakes, one after the other, have filled our TV screens.

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Photo by Leonardo Hendler

Tom Parsons, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park, California, and co-author of the study with Eric Geist, told us last week that we have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded.
But even though the global earthquake rate appears to be on the rise, he said the number of quakes can still be explained by random chance. With so many earthquakes rattling the planet in 2014, Parsons actually hoped his study might find the opposite — that the increase in big earthquakes comes from one large quake setting off another huge shaker. Earlier research had shown that seismic waves from one earthquake can travel around the world and trigger tiny temblors or aftershocks elsewhere and must admit that this was also my own pretty set view until now.

When I first moved to Turkey, many years ago, I was very aware that it was a higher than normal earthquake risk area. The reason for my awareness was because the fringes of Istanbul, the city I initially moved to, where rattled by two large earthquakes within weeks of each other in 1999. The first quake that hit with a magnitude 7.4 on the 17th August was centred close to the nearby city of Izmit. It caused extensive damage, and it was estimated that up to 17,000 people were killed, with a further half a million made homeless. The second quake struck less than 3 months later with a magnitude 7.2 shake near the city of Duzce, which lies about 100km further east from Izmit. This time the death toll was less than a thousand but the affect of two large earthquakes, so close together understandably made people believe that one must have set of the other. And so it created a climate of fear for quite a while after the events. Indeed, I often saw people testing walls with their hands, or perhaps after a heavy lorry drove by rattling windows, some people would actually run out into the open, if only to confirm that the shake had nothing to do with the Great Anatolian fault, which cuts right through Istanbul.

Ostrich"
Photo by Yelingyang

In the days that followed the Duzce quake I remember many world seismology experts coming and going and making various predictions. The one I remember most of all was an assessment that Istanbul itself would suffer a similar if not more devastating earthquake within the next 25 years. That expert, whose name I have long forgotten dramatically told us that because of the unpredictability of earthquakes, it could be in 25 years time or it could happen the day after tomorrow. That was in 1999, so by his estimation, the next big quake must hit Istanbul sometime in the next 10 years. The other thing that sticks in my mind from all of those news items back then was learning just how difficult it was to make any prediction at all, other than those based on historical records of earthquakes past. While some still declared that the Duzce earthquake must have been triggered by the Izmit earthquake, that seemed to be based on nothing but supposition.

Anyway, fifteen years on few people seem to be as bothered as much as they were in 1999 and a certain fatalism has taken over. If it happens it happens – what can I do?’ or from the more religious minded ‘If it kills me, then of course it is simply Allah’s will.’ Although that later statement has been used for as long as I can remember as an excuse for many different things and is often put forward as a big factor in the way many people drive so badly here, with little care and attention to the road to the point that the death rate on the roads is so many times higher than in most other countries.

As I said earlier I had gradually leaned towards the belief that some earthquakes do set each other off, but according to the study I seem to be wrong. Despite the recent earthquake storm, they concluded that the world’s great earthquakes still strike at random. The average rate of big earthquakes — those larger than magnitude 7 — has been 10 per year since 1979, the study reports. That rate rose to 12.5 per year starting in 1992, and then jumped to 16.7 per year starting in 2010 — a 65 percent increase compared to the rate since 1979. This increase accelerated in the first three months of 2014 to more than double the average since 1979, the researchers report.

“The rise in earthquakes is statistically similar to the results of flipping a coin,” Parsons finally declared, “sometimes heads or tails will repeat several times in a row, even though the process is random. Basically, we can’t prove that what we saw during the first part of 2014, or since 2010, isn’t simply a similar thing to getting six tails in a row.”