Women and Faith: Is it love or tradition?
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I heard about a husband who would call his wife faithfully at 10:00 each night whenever he was away for work. In one of their phone conversations, as she enjoyed the bliss of being considered and planned for, she jokingly asked, 'it is love or tradition?'

Well, it's sort of both. It's tradition because somewhere near the beginning or along the way as their relationship blossomed, he made a decision; a commitment to make the call for what may be a variety of 'love' reasons. He may have longed to hear her voice, wanted to maintain their connection, was eager to tell her something, wanted to check on the kids, or just wanted to make a simple check-in to find out if she was okay.

Over time that decision became a habit, a pattern, a tradition that he follows or practises, I suspect, whether or not he is longing to hear her voice or needing to speak. Or perhaps the factors supporting the 10:00 pm call have broadened — it's now what he is used to doing. He's trained himself into a comfortable, enjoyable habit. So perhaps now, it's not just love, but part of his routine.

Whether the reasons have remained or broadened, it is useful to understand that routine acts of love help a woman to feel treasured, cherished and missed even if during a regular 10:00 pm call he is half asleep. She knows that his commitment, this tradition is a vestibule of their love, an oven that keeps things warm — the hands and feet of promise. She knows that love can lose its savour without consistent, kind actions that become tradition.

In these increasingly challenging times, it is therefore good to originate and cultivate traditions to savour the love in relationships, friendships and families to make sure they feel assured, treasured, considered and planned for. Who are the people in your life with whom you share meaningful traditions? Maybe it's the cuddles with your kids before they go to bed, the 'tell me about your day' discussion in the car after school pick-up, or just eating dinner together at the table. Or it could be more unusual stuff like waking up your best friend every Saturday morning with a song or rubbing your ageing mom's feet with peppermint oil before bed. These traditions fill the love tank.

So, is it love or tradition? It's sort of both. Hopeless romantic folks out there tend to want to know that it's not just routine why you made the call. But instead, that there was a passionate longing, an unquenchable desire to connect. That may be the experience sometimes, but sometimes that fire wanes and what keeps love going is the decision to keep loving, the pattern and routine. So don't scoff at tradition and routine — they can keep love alive and warm.

Let's therefore embrace good traditions in relationships, friendships and families and in so doing continue to choose love. And let us also embrace good faith traditions of prayer and meditation that keep our hearts surrendered to God and available to love.

Shelly-Ann MAIR-HARRIS

Passionate about faith and women's empowerment, Shelly-Ann Mair-Harris has served on the board of women's rights organisations and is the author of several publications including God's Woman and The Goodies on Her Tray. A woman of faith for several years, Shelly-Ann is also an award-winning playwright and poet as well as a trained and experienced media, marketing, change management and strategic communications professional.

Shelly-Ann MAIR-HARRIS

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