Love, new and old

My Chronicle column this month is on love and related adventures.
Valentine's Day is a time for new and old love, The Chronicle, 5 February 2013

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there’s probably no more inappropriate song to be listening to than Tim Minchin’s ‘If I didn’t have you… I’d probably have someone else’. In the song, Minchin tells us he thinks it’s mathematically pretty unlikely that he met the one girl on earth specifically designed for him while studying at a university in Perth. Life is chaos, he argues, not fate.

But despite the title, I still think the song has something special to say about romance. Love, Minchin sings ‘is nothing to do with destined perfection’. Instead, ‘The connection is strengthened, the affection simply grows over time … love is made more powerful by the ongoing drama of shared experience’.

My wife Gweneth and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary last month. As we headed out to see a movie, we talked about how much our lives have changed since we met in Boston. With three children, I’d say that our ratio of nappy changes to cinema movies is running at about 100 to 1.

Our ‘ongoing drama of shared experiences’ includes the time our alarm didn’t go off for an early-morning flight, and the family holiday began with the sound of a honking taxi. Plus soccer lessons, food-throwing meals and hospital emergency room visits. And yet Gweneth and I have still managed to squeeze in the occasional ‘date night’ – to stare into each other’s eyes for an hour or two, and remind ourselves how lucky we are to have found one another.

One of the great things I get to do in this job is to arrange letters from Prime Minister Julia Gillard for couples who’ve been married for 50 years. When I asked one man his secret to a long marriage, he said ‘dunno mate – I just woke up one day and we’d been married half a century’. However you get there, it’s a great achievement.

Others find that the joy and stress of a relationship is greatest at the time of having children. New babies are a source of wonder and excitement; but they can also bring confusion and anxiety. That’s why I’ll be holding my third Welcoming the Babies celebration on Sunday 24 February. For new mums and dads, it’s a chance to meet new parents, and find out more from local service providers about playgroups, support services and even swimming classes.

So if you know someone who’s just had a new baby, please encourage them to register. Welcoming the Babies will be held in Glebe Park in the city, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. We’ll have a barbecue, a cake, and plenty of space for older siblings to run around.

So whether you’re celebrating new love, old love or a new baby, have a happy and safe February, and I look forward to seeing you around town.

Andrew Leigh is the federal member for Fraser, and his website is To register for Welcoming the Babies or an anniversary congratulations, phone 6247 4396 or email [email protected].

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.