Wednesday 22 November 2017

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: We've become experts at sex – but losers at love

AT the supermarket on Friday night, my beloved said a red, heart-shaped candle was tat and a total rip-off at. Guess he won't be buying me the latest big thing for Valentine's day then, made of a new metal amalgam, rubedo. Created by Tiffany, it's slightly pink and quite attractive. Hoop earrings cost €1,200 and a bangle seven times as much, and not even real gold as my mother would have said. But for someone called Edwina Ings-Chambers, an effusive connoisseur of high style, a piece of rubedo would be making, she wrote in a Sunday newspaper: "... that statement of statements – the 'will you love and cherish me forever' one..."

Love costs in these circles. And therefore is worth nothing. Real love is priceless. I went to see the disturbing and touching George Clooney film, The Descendents about grief, loss and marital betrayal. All the while I was thinking about how much my man and marriage mean to me, the strength and commitment of our mutual love, how lucky we are. I hated my body and face before I met him; I was lost, untrusting and wounded. Oh there have been terrible moments and phases since; we have shouted and said vile things; I have driven away, wanting out. But we never gave up on our promise and would not break the bond. More than 22 years on we are best friends and lovers. (Note to husband: now don't go off with some enticing young thing and make me rue these words.)

Love between couples should be about resilience, fidelity, trust, that steady entwining of hearts and minds, slow-cooked sexual intimacy, soul-to-soul murmurs. How archaic that sounds, except, perhaps, to the bonneted ladies of the Jane Austen Society. These days, it seems, relationships come and go like the colours of fashion. A big wedding, followed by a short marriage and the next big wedding, is how the story goes. Celebs like Katie Price, lead the way and humbles follow. In our age of break and take, the Beckhams, together still after 13 years, bless them, are oddballs or screwballs as they say in LA. UK divorce rates (though stabilising) remain excessively high. I have just finished a series on the devastating effect divorce has on individuals for BBC Radio 4, to be broadcast later this month.

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