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What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to talk about weddings.


There’s a lot of talk in our office on this subject; Kat and Amy just got married (not to each other though) and are reviewing the most incredible, epic videos and photos of their big days; we’re writing blogs on weddings sharing our tips and years of experience; and talking to clients about making their special day’s entertainment a unique blend of who they are, mixed with a big dollop of emotion, merged with maximum party impact. And Sim and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this year, along with a lot of people we know, coincidentally.

Last night I was at a friend’s house and I caught some of an Australian reality TV programme called Married At First Sight, which is apparently huge business and a giant ratings winner.

I’m a fan of love, warts and all, but this wedding(s) is definitely not my cup of tea. Deceit, cheating, lies, lust, and losers get plenty of air time because supposedly that makes good TV and we all need and want – apparently – to see this behaviour played out to great effect with deliberate ruthless editing, dramatic crescendos and cliffhangers, and replays over and over.

One couple who actually fell in love, and are evidently experiencing real connection through this pointless experiment played out on international TV, got about two seconds of air time because that’s lovely but it’s not good TV.

When there is so much mayhem, unpredictable confusing crazy politics, erratic economics, and senseless suffering in the world, why are we watching these programmes and why are we making them? Can someone please explain this to me? Surely we have better things to do with our meaningful lives, precious time and hard earned money? And surely it’s about relishing the opportunity to choose whom we love and feeling grateful for who we connect with. Marriage and partnership ain’t always pretty; the ups and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly, and it can be hard enough without a camera in your face.

In a podcast interviewing English writer and philosopher, Alain de Botton** (bestselling author of On Love, The Course of Love, Essays of Love, How to Think More about Sex, etc), he spoke about the complexities of falling into, and out of, relationships. Not in front of a TV camera, sadly for some, just simply playing out in real life with real intimacy. De Botton believes we are all still, and will always be, students of love. That no relationship should be judged by its length but rather its impact. And that the best insurance policy is remembering that we can never own or even fully know another person when we’re married or in a long term relationship —and that we shouldn’t skip the ‘little moments of tenderness’ along the way.

According to de Botton, “The more that ambivalent feelings can be brought on to the surface, the safer the relationship is,” – the more we can be tolerant, gentle and kind, and don’t censor each other, the more we enable a safe, loving relationship.

Makes for interesting reading and listening. I think I prefer peace and honesty rather than drama so I’ll grab one of his books, feel grateful for my perfectly imperfect relationship, and skip watching Married At First Sight…

With love,

(For more from de Botton on emotional intelligence, his London store and worldwide opportunities, see The School of Life.)

The School of Life is committed to providing a more realistic, intelligent and psychological route to marriage.

And they even have a book On Being Nice: this book wants to help us to be nicer: that is, less irritable, more patient, readier to listen, warmer, less prickly. Niceness may not have the immediate allure of money or fame, but it is a hugely important quality nevertheless and one that we neglect at our peril. Maybe they’ve been reading our Incognito blogs and got the message that we couldn’t agree more!

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