Tracey Calvert-Joshua

The Yummy Jellybeans of Relationships

The Flavours that work

I made my list of 100 things that I wanted in a husband. Some hinted that I was being unrealistic. But you showed me that I wasn't. And you extended my "ridiculous" list. I thank the Lord Jesus for you. But I also thank you. Because you had to choose to be the man He wanted you to be. Mommy, you taught me to fight for, to pray for and to wait for what I wanted. You were right. This book was inspired by those who have loved me from the beginning. By those whom I have loved for long. And by those I've come to love recently. Every word in this book is because of relationship.

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In the Harry Potter novel, we are introduced to Bertie Bott’s infamous jellybeans. You could try guessing the flavour of the jellybeans by their look, but there was really no way of telling which flavour you chose, until you put it in your mouth.


Normally this would be an intriguing game to play, except for the fact, that in this batch, you may find yourself biting into accidental disgusting creations, such as vomit flavour, booger flavour, earwax flavour, rotten egg flavour, etc. 


It rightfully advertises as: “Every Flavour Beans - A Risk With Every Mouthful!" This is exactly how many view romantic relationships.

They believe that there is simply no formula for getting it right. You just have to taste the one person after the other, until you are lucky enough to find a palatable partner.


A young woman who just started dating, asked a question on Facebook, that we’ve all posed at some point in our lives. What makes a strong relationship?


At this stage I was married for more than 10 years, and because I was always philosophical, this was definitely not a subject that I just flippantly grazed over. I figured that if at least a few people exist, who between them have tried most of the "jellybean flavours" of relationships, then surely they would have developed a labelling system. One that the rest of us can follow, so that no “rotten egg” makes us “vomit” up the hopes we had, when we first bought into the idea of marriage.


Although marriage is by no means non-magical (like the Muggles), this is my unexhausted list of yummy jellybeans that make for strong relationships.


Each chapter is named after a jellybean that gives you a taste for the topic under discussion, but they deliberately do not follow a specific order -much like a packet of unsorted jellybeans. And I am sure that these somewhat-labelled beans, will constantly grow in edible flavours, as I continue to undertake the taste test. (**,)


1. POPCORN (in a skillet)

Learn Not To Overreact


In a viral YouTube video, a very enthusiastic man was cooking in the kitchen with his partner. While she still had her back to the camera, he was calling out the spices that he was planning to season the chicken with.

She turned around to check up on him, and gave him a look that can only be described as utter confusion mixed with a hint of contempt.

She had asked him to clean the chicken, and he, being a novice in the kitchen, had used dish soap to wash it. The chicken pieces that I previously never noticed, now appeared boldly in the foreground of the video.



They were coated with soap bubbles. She meant that he was supposed to rinse the chicken.

   She was absolutely livid. She started swearing and hurling insults at him - calling him a retard. According to her, he had completely ruined everything, and she proceeded to angrily dump all the chicken in the bin and paced out of the kitchen. 

Naturally, he was very confused and kept saying: “But you said that I should WASH the chicken.” She couldn’t even hear him through her anger. And she kept shouting that she gave him just ONE task to do, and he screwed it up – of course she was using slightly more colourful words. 


By the look on his face, you could see that he was probably not going to offer to help her - EVER again. Especially if it involved a new experience with her and he runs the risk of “ruining everything” again.

He wasn't going to take a chance and be vulnerable around her, because she had no problem embarrassing him and showing her disdain for his imperfections. 


I grew up in a home like this, where the smallest of things would cause a major flare-up. In my case the culprit was a male relative, but I have seen this often with women too. If we constantly have huge reactions to little things, they will probably be too scared to come to us when they have something really big to share.

Disproportionate reactions to the tiniest of things, tells your partner that they better not tell you if they have cancer, or if they've lost their job. They better find a solution on their own.

Next time you send him to the shop, and he buys you the wrong chocolate, will your reaction make him not want to go to the shop for you ever again?

Next time she shares how hurt she was by something someone said to her, will you undermine her feelings by calling her over-sensitive? And do you enjoy being able to say: "I told you so?" 


How about we rather be each other’s calm in the storm.


One of the tricks that I like to do, is the moment someone shares anything with me, especially if see that it is something "big" to them, I become aware of what I AM feeling.

 I then ask myself: "How can I react in a way, so that MY reaction (or lack thereof) calms them down? Perhaps my calmness will help them to pull themselves together and take action towards a solution."

Even if they cannot get to a solution right away, I at least want to make sure that my reaction does not make them feel worse than they already do.


We can be that person, that when they mention us to others, they can say: "I can talk to them about anything. When I have a rough day, I look forward to coming home to them. They make me feel brave enough to take calculated risks, so that I can explore new ventures, because when I fail, they are my soft place to fall."


Be Willing to be Vulnerable


In primary school, we had a school talent show, and I was sitting in the front row. A group of girls was dancing on stage, with daringly short skirts. I flinched every time I saw a bit too high up their legs. Like many, I was influenced by a very prudish mom, who instructed us to close our eyes whenever they showed sex scenes on tv.


When I got married, this was a challenging part of our relationship. It took me a few years to finally understand the profound beauty of sex and nudity. The day I had the courage to stand naked in front of my husband, and to be not just accepted with have all of my flaws, but also be desired, I received one of my greatest compliments yet.


Standing stark naked in front of someone, proved to be rather symbolic. Because just as intimate acts such as sex, cannot be performed without taking off at least some clothing, without exposing our true selves, there can be no intimacy on the level of our souls. Vulnerability comes in so many different forms, but it ultimately is about trust.


If you do not reassure your partner that you are not disillusioned when you find them extraordinary. That they do not need to fear that once the novelty wears off, you will wake up to the ugly reality. But that you are perfectly aware that they have flaws. But that it is those very quirks that makes them the strange kind of wonderful that you've fallen in love with, then they will never truly show up.


And it can take just one person to break the cycle of the fear of not being good enough. Have you ever shared a very embarrassing story and then all of a sudden, everyone else starts to share theirs? What happened? My understanding is, that you showed them that you do not judge yourself too harshly for being imperfect. This gives them a glimmer of hope that you won’t judge them harshly either.


A quick way to check how you have fared in this area, is to check how you speak about your own flaws in front of your partner? Perhaps you can create an opportunity to point out something about yourself that you are not too fond of. Then back it up by showing how kind you are to yourself, about your so-called flaws.


Something like: "My hair is so thick and practically unmanageable. But for some strange reason, I really love it." Or "I can be so easily annoyed. But I'm teaching myself to first ask myself, what does this say about me? I guess this means that I'm growing." Every time we cut ourselves some slack, the other person builds up the courage to be vulnerable around us.