Some things just go together, like, well, like “ramma lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong”. Other songs with similar themes talk about the winning combinations of ‘a wink and a smile’, ‘peanut butter and jelly’ or ‘fire that needs a flame’. Some of my favourite pairings at the moment are lemon and honey (still have a dodgy throat) or white chocolate and raspberry (as featured in new favourite muffin recipe, mmmm).
The fresh, tart raspberries are complemented brilliantly by the creamy white chocolate, and the mixture is light and so easy to make. I may have a front-runner for my baking challenge. In the same way, the very different qualities of lemon juice and honey balance to make a drink (or pancake topping?) that boosts vitamins, clears the sinuses and soothes the throat. I’ve said before how creating harmony doesn’t require the elements to be the same, but rather to complement one another.
I’m not sure how far total opposites attract, but many of the best partnerships draw on very different strengths from two individuals. Whether comedy duos, composers and lyricists or more intimate pairings, the ideal must be that two people together are somehow more than the sum of their parts. The Indigo Girls express this in their lovely song, ‘The Power of Two’ which uses the mathematical notion of multiplying life by the power of two to capture a more exponential increase when someone is together with someone who truly loves them.
I had conversations over the weekend about relationships and difficult decisions when these might not be such mutually enhancing partnerships. I believe strongly in the importance of working at marriage relationships and the need for commitment to work through tough times. Deciding whether to continue a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend seems less clear cut, since part of the point of these more short-term pairings must be to decide how compatible two people might be for a more permanent relationship. Breaking up may be famously hard to do, but sometimes I’m sure it is the right thing.
If a relationship somehow makes someone less than they were before, or reduces the good that two people could be separately, then that is a strong indicator to me that it’s not right. I’m not talking about the sacrifices anyone has to make in putting the other person first sometimes, or even the way that prioritising a partner may mean that other friendships almost inevitably suffer. My concern is when a relationship causes someone to close down instead of open up, to feel bad about themselves rather than being encouraged and nourished or to change in a way that diminishes rather than cherishes their unique personal qualities.
So I guess I’m disagreeing with Jack Johnson that it’s always better when we’re together. While I’d love to find a man with whom I could share a positive, life-affirming and mutually encouraging relationship, I would rather be single than be with someone who is wrong for me. As a Christian, any potential partner would need to be encouraging me in my walk with God too, and that sadly narrows the field somewhat further. But God also promises never to leave me or forsake me, and that I should be content with what I have, knowing He is my helper. Not saying that’s easy. Sometimes I resort to muffins, but they’re nicest when I share them with friends.