Celebrating Difference

They often say that it’s the similarities that bring a couple together, but it’s how they work through their differences that keep them together.

Dearie once told me that she disagreed with what a fellow friend of ours said about the both of us being so similar.

(Jasmine says: Our classmate, James, once remarked that we were a good fit for each other because we were so alike. While Andrew and I share many of the same beliefs, old-fashioned values and work ethic, I believe that the main strength of our relationship is not that we are entirely similar, but that we have different strengths that complement the other’s weaknesses.)

As we grow to know each other better, we’ve both come to realise truly how different the both of us are. How so?

1. Eating habits

Val mentioned during one of our dinner conversations in Cameron that the biggest change in her life after getting together with her boyfriend was that she started to eat fast food more. I immediately agreed with her too!

I was a big MacDonalds fan when I was in Secondary School. In my Secondary 4 days, I used to visit Macs at King Albert Park or Serene Centre almost everyday.

Since those days, I have sworn off fast food and eat it only once every few months. However, ever since I’ve gotten together with Dearie, my frequency of fast food consumption has increased exponentially because Jasmine is a big fan of Long John Silvers. Seriously, if they had a loyalty membership, she would be on platinum membership by now. She can eat LJS more than twice a week, and even on consecutive days. Consuming LJS can be said to be part of her weekly church-going ritual – even if we choose to eat at a hawker centre, she will pack LJS to consume there! I have eaten more LJS meals in the past few months than the rest of my life pre-relationship.

(Jasmine says: Growing up, I didn’t have much money, so my idea of fine dining was Mos Burger. We are lucky that Mos Burger isn’t as ubiquitous as LJS, or the two of us might end up having fast-food and milk tea on almost every date. Thank God for small mercies, huh?)

The difference in our food habits goes beyond just interest in fast-food. My dearie very often doesn’t eat breakfast and then has fruits/fruit juice for lunch, followed by a semi-proper dinner.

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Full meal = 3 packets of Hello Panda

I, however, often ensure that I have a very hearty breakfast followed by decently-sized meals. ‘Hunger is a state of mind’ is a mantra she goes by. In our early days of dating during our NIE induction programme, I often stashed a surprise breakfast pack for her (a mini carton of Peel Fresh mango juice and half a sandwich or a pack of Hello Panda) in the glove box of my car so that she would at least eat something. More often than not, however, she would end up just drinking the juice.

Our compromise?

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Mac Breakfast!

The only breakfast my Dearie would willingly wake up for to eat is Mac-breakfast on Sundays before church. The only fast food I really truly enjoy is MacDonalds breakfast. So, Mac Breakfast is the intersection ‘meal’ (I dare say, the only intersection) of our very varied eating habits.

2. Our Interests

While we both love going to exhibitions, finding new food places etc., we are also trying very hard too to partake in each other’s differing interests.

For me, I’m trying to accommodate Jasmine’s interest in shopping. Interest would be putting it mildly – passion is a more accurate word to use. Her dad always says that they put more ‘oxygen’ in shopping centres, so people become more energetic. I believe it really is true for my Dearie. Her eyes literally light up whenever we enter a shopping mall. Many salesgirls even know her by name and call her personally when a piece that she’s been eyeing comes into the store. A simple jaunt through CityLink can become a 45-minute long affair as various dresses/accessories catch her eye and she goes in to try them.  I must say she has a rather good eye for cheap, stylish clothes and I have grown to appreciate the fashion wonder that is Far East Plaza.

My dearie has tried so much to ‘induct’ me into part of her passion that she often MMS-es photos while she’s shopping to ask for my opinion!

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A toga dress which I thought looked really good!

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We’ve been looking for a nice pair of casual work shoes for me. She saw this yesterday at a greatly discounted price of 99 (from 169).

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My dearie doesn’t just shop for clothes. She’s often on the look out during her own shopping trips too for anything that will cheer my sister up! I really love that about her.

Jasmine has agreed before that we won’t have shopping dates, but let’s face it – shopping often creeps up into any date as long as we are in the City area or even within the vicinity of a mall. My greatest surprise was when my dearie was able to find a dress even at Tiong Bahru Plaza after her mum’s birthday dinner. Of all places!

(Jasmine says: What can I say? It was a cute dress!)

Our compromise? I’ve tried my best to be the good shopping partner, picking up some necessary vocabulary and terms (i.e. that dress doesn’t suit your ‘body type’, or ‘the design overwhelms you’, ‘the cutting is not good’) – sufficient to seem interested for at least two hours, after which my eyes start to reveal my disinterest and I get visibly edgy. So we’ve tried to keep the shopping to a maximum of two hours within each date. I tend to be more engaged when we’re shopping for me – so that’s how Dearie has tried to ‘include’ me in her shopping interests too. I think that’s a rather good compromise!

(Jasmine says: “Visibly edgy” is putting it mildly. Obviously, that whole spiel about shopping malls being more oxygenated does not apply to my dear. After two or three shops, his eyes start glazing over and his responses are reduced to monosyllabic grunts. Sometimes I’ll ask him if he’d rather browse at Borders or head to the IT/ gadgets section while waiting for me, but that too involves more shopping so our problem remains unresolved.

The only diversions that work are to

1. try on pencil skirts (for some reason, he always seems rather awake then)

2. get him to try on shirts (surprisingly, my dear is able to muster the stamina to try out half a dozen shirts from M&S or Topman) [Andrew: Just to add on a comment here that my Dearie has really taught me a lot about what kind of shirts look good on me and how I should select shirts for myself and where to get reasonably priced shirts too.]

I give him credit for learning fashion-speak, though!)

On my side, I must say I’ve been failing in my attempt to ‘convert’ Jasmine to be a running enthusiast. Our only planned running date failed miserably. My dearie could not find her running shoes. We were delayed and our running ‘date’ ended up becoming a stroll around the lake of Botanic Gardens, followed by dinner at Newton Circus. We might have burnt more calories looking for her shoes instead of ‘running’.

(Jasmine says: They weren’t even my running shoes, but hand-me-downs from my very athletic ex-sportscaster cousin. I think I may have absent-mindedly left the running shoes outside my door and the cleaner may have ‘rescued’ them. If I see him wearing a pair of Nike cross-trainers, I’ll be sure to update. In all likelihood, they’re probably languishing in some Salvation Army thrift store now.)

3. Our Personality-Types

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I am by nature a planner, whereas Jasmine is someone who prefers to be more spontaneous. She enjoys the thrill of getting lost, of exploring new places, or not knowing where we’re heading to next and finding our way together. I always want to know where I’m going and I need to have that sense of certainty before I go somewhere. Whenever I get lost on the road, I get panicky and want to immediately get back on track. Jasmine, on the other hand, enjoys that process of ‘getting lost’ together and navigating our way out of that unknown.

Our compromise? I’ve tried ‘planned spontaneity’, though I must say I’m still not very good at it. The only one time I tried to be ‘spontaneous’ was during our half-nniversary celebration, where I told her I wanted to come down to see her. However, upon telling her to wear something nice, she immediately knew I had planned something, hence making it no longer spontaneous.  We’ve also had one so-called spontaneous date, where we decided to go catch the midnight show of Julia and Julie at Golden Village Yishun. I must admit that I initially struggled with that ‘spontaneity’, especially having to go all the way out to Yishun to watch it, but I ultimately enjoyed the show and the time we spent together. A cup of Milo from MacDonalds helped to sustain me through that movie.

(Jasmine says: I believe my dear is shortchanging himself when he says that we’ve only had one “spontaneous” date. Truth be told, Andrew has shown himself to be rather spontaneous at several points in the courtship. Little moments of improvisation involve paying for dresses when I’m in the changing room (I’ve since gotten wise to this trick, and will sternly warn the salesgirls not to accept his money… not like that ever works), buying flowers “for no reason”, and swinging by my place unexpectedly on special occasions such as my birthday or our sixth month anniversary

Image00Andrew: The bouquet of roses on the right was a ‘surprise’ bouquet sent to her school. It’s obviously superior to the one on the left. 😛

Jasmine: Last week on the road, we missed the turn to Marina Barrage. Three months ago, Andrew might have started muttering under his breath (my dear’s road rage is almost negligible though, as the only expletive he uses is “aargh”).

This time, however, he very suavely decided that we should just drive on down to Kallang Stadium instead. So we did.)

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