The love I feel for my wife is, and always has been, different to any other. Even the beginning of the relationship was different to anything else I have experienced. The first time I saw her I felt that I wanted to be near her in a way that I have never experienced. We shared our first kiss within two minutes of meeting. It was (and still is) a grand passion, but there is a deeper connection there which is more. I am not a religious man, I do not use words like ‘spiritual’ freely because I don’t really know what they mean.

Chris G (Part 2)

What I do know is this: I have seen Bushmen in the Kalahari and spoken to them about the connection they feel between themselves and their land, and all the living things that walk on it. I have been moved to tears by their stories of brothers, sisters and mothers lost when they are torn from that land and placed in houses in towns they do not understand how to live in. They die when the connection between them and their land is lost. I understand the power of that feeling. My connection is with Rebecca. We share a sense of place, of belonging.  A symbiotic link that is greater than either of us alone. Home is with her. My place is with her. My mate. My love.

As to you other question about whether I could have felt this way about someone else….I firmly believe that our love is unique, and we are so fortunate to have found each other. “This kind of certainty comes but once in a lifetime”.

This is Part 2 of Chris G’s interview. To read Part 1 and his Back Story go here.

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Getting To Know Chris G Well (Part 2)

In Conversation With RD

RDI can relate very strongly to the way you describe your relationship with your wife. I feel the same way about Reservoir Mum and do not even entertain the thought of being with anyone else, ever. But whenever I come up against certainty I always find myself playing devil’s advocate, searching for the caveat that I know must be there. (PS You shouldn’t have said I don’t want to think about it) It’s been demonstrated many times that a person can fall in love again when a partner passes away, or leaves unexpectedly, which brings in to question the whole idea of a ‘soul mate’. How do you encounter love? Is it a connection more spiritual than physical? Is it only biological – starting with lust and then being sustained by the common, familiarity of being physically present to another for so long? And here’s the pow – could you have chanced upon another woman, before you met your current wife, and fallen as deeply in love?

Chris GA very good family friend, who was a like a grandfather to me when I was a kid, once told me in his fantastic Cleveland (NE England, not the USA) accent after I had split with a girlfriend: “Chris lad, sometimes you meet a lass, and it’s a grand passion…but after a while when that’s gone….you find that there is nothing left”. That has always stuck with me. I had quite a few girlfriends before I met my wife. I blame my dad. When he drove me down to London for my first week of Uni, we stopped to get a coffee at a service station and he said to me “Find yourself a rich med student or a lawyer, or some beautiful oriental girl”. Of course he was half kidding…..but for a while I think my parents saw my relationships as an attempt by me to sleep with at least one girl from each continent before I graduated. So, to start answering your question, I have always enjoyed the company of women. I am naturally a very flirtatious person. I flirt with doctors, checkout girls at the supermarket, even my wife’s friends (who all flirt like mad). I’m not letchy or creepy when I flirt, but I like to make women smile. In the early days of our relationship, my wife would laugh at me about it and I felt worried that she might be jealous, but she assures me not. These days she practically encourages me to flirt with the girl at the butchers shop – so we get bigger steaks!

So being confident with women made lust, to use your wording, pretty easy to come by when I was single. But love is a different beast. I have been in relationships where I thought I was in love, have said “I love you” and said it first, others where I have said it back and really thought I meant it. But when I look back, I realise that I didn’t love that person in anywhere near the same way that I love my wife. Some I didn’t really love at all, but I only know that now. Maybe it is just that love comes in many flavours – after all we don’t love our parents or our children or our brothers and sisters the same way in which we love our partners, do we? But it is no lesser a love, it doesn’t run any less deep in the fibres of our beings. It’s just different.

chris-g-becca-marriedThe love I feel for my wife is, and always has been, different to any other. Even the beginning of the relationship was different to anything else I have experienced. The first time I saw her I felt that I wanted to be near her in a way that I have never experienced. We shared our first kiss within two minutes of meeting. It was (and still is) a grand passion, but there is a deeper connection there which is more. I am not a religious man, I do not use words like ‘spiritual’ freely because I don’t really know what they mean. What I do know is this: I have seen Bushmen in the Kalahari and spoken to them about the connection they feel between themselves and their land, and all the living things that walk on it. I have been moved to tears by their stories of brothers, sisters and mothers lost when they are torn from that land and placed in houses in towns they do not understand how to live in. They die when the connection between them and their land is lost. I understand the power of that feeling. My connection is with Rebecca. We share a sense of place, of belonging.  A symbiotic link that is greater than either of us alone. Home is with her. My place is with her. My mate. My love.

As to your other question about whether I could have felt this way about someone else….I firmly believe that our love is unique, and we are so fortunate to have found each other. “This kind of certainty comes but once in a lifetime”.

RDI worked as a youth support worker for ten years and most of my clients would be classed as ‘the shirkers’ you mentioned in your back story. I left that job very jaded and in despair about life ever changing for people who came from very disadvantaged backgrounds. At the time it seemed pretty obvious that the Government was throwing just enough money our way to keep disadvantaged youth hidden away in poor housing until they were old enough to be discarded, labelled and probably jailed. If anything, society seems to be getting better at segregating the poor from the well-off and blaming our disadvantaged. I’m just sharing these thoughts with without any real query in mind but I’ll throw this ripper at you just to let this rant qualify as a question, ‘What can we do to change things?’

Chris GThis is a tough one. My wife has taught in some very impoverished communities and the one thing that she has always maintained is that poor people have the same aspirations as people in better off communities; they just don’t understand how to access the opportunities they have and thus often feel like they are trapped. My mum was a special needs teacher who specialised in kids with multi-sensory impairment (deaf-blind, often with life shortening genetic conditions). She taught kids who had no connection to the world and gave them a chance at having an education. Several of her students went on to university. I am hugely proud of my mum for the work she did. I’m perhaps biased because both my parents were teachers, and I’m married to one too, but I think that education above all brings change and opportunity. If we can foster an education system that rewards success of all kinds (not just academic) then slowly we can make a difference. At the moment, if you come out of secondary school without qualifications you are pretty much done for. It is not fair that a child should be branded a failure at 16 because they can’t do maths, physics or chemistry or understand Shakespeare. They might be amazing woodworkers, plumbers, roofers, artists, sculptors, welders, musicians, whatever. But currently they don’t have a way of being recognised as such unless they get lucky and someone gives them a break. We need to bring back proper apprenticeships into our education system, and recognise the skills that people have often go far beyond what is currently assessed in schools.

RDYou thought you would have been working in a job you really love every day at this point in your life. Having a doctorate means you have put so much effort and thought into your current career. Why doesn’t your current job match that criteria? What job would meet that criteria?

Chris GThe doctorate for me was less about deciding on a career path and more about wanting to succeed and get recognition, plus it was an awesome opportunity to go to Africa. I love geography and it was the best thing in the world to study. I consider myself a geographer and always will.

It’s funny that since the backstory bit I’ve actually had an interview and been recruited for a new job and am excited about the challenges which are ahead. Maybe a career is starting to take shape after all?

My dream job would be to be a pilot. I go to airshows as often as I can and I love fast jets. I was never going to be a military pilot though because of my eyesight and other medical stuff. That was a hard pill to swallow as a kid. When I was in Africa I did a good bit of flying about in light aircraft and choppers and loved it. I still hope one day to earn enough money to get my private pilot’s license. Oh, and of course a home gym like Reservoir Dad has. I would do scenic flights in the day to earn some cash, train my ass off in the gym, and raise lots of little giblets with Becca. Sounds like a plan.

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To follow Chris G on Twitter – @DrChrisGibbons

Visit Chris G’s powerlifting blog – Don’t Eat The Chalk

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If you’d like to be an RD Interviewee for 2013 read this post and follow the directions.