Had the longest conversation with a dear friend of mine yesterday. It turns out that all has been far from well in her marriage for a long time. She has since fallen in love with someone else, divorced her husband and plans to marry her new man! Nothing unusual in that you say. True. If I say that she still lives with the ex-husband and will do so until the children are grown and has not so much kissed the new man in her life, let alone slept with him, is it beginning to sound a little more unusual?
I don’t doubt that my friend and this new man have something special. He is supportive of her and her children, emotionally, spiritually, practically, in fact, to hear her tell it in every conceivable way! To which many of the girls reading this will be saying, I can get all that without sex? Where do I sign? But there lies the rub. The man isn’t gay and he is no virgin either. He is a full, red blooded male who will want and need sex from my friend, sooner rather than later and there is no way he will wait 5 years to get it until they are married. I fear that this will all end in tears!
My friend is a sweetie. Naïve, but lovely. I have told her, if you want to keep this man you will either have to marry him quickly or be sleeping with him until you can. I know this, having learnt the lesson myself a long time ago. My very wise and experienced mother, in probably the only sex education lesson she ever gave me said that if that was the sort of man that I wanted to be with, then that was the sort of girl I would need to become. I’m not proud of it, but at least I married him!
It’s the same inside marriage too. Take sex off the cards and you will have a problem. Good luck to my friend and her other half. They will need it.
At my significant birthday meal, my Uncle and Aunt gave my a present which included their filming of our wedding. They asked about the wedding video we had done on the day and whether we still watched it. Yes, was my reply, but not that often. Now the video and the pictures felt like the wedding, not the marriage I told them. They laughed.
Other Half knows about the above conversation, even though he was at the other end of the rather long table when it took place. He also knows that all is not well with another friend’s marriage, which I told him after a long and enlightening conversation with said friend. Other Half doesn’t know any details about the person or situation as my friend swore me to secrecy and I am abiding by that. It did lead us onto a very interesting conversation about our own marriage though, after one of those 24 hour I’m still not talking to you rows.
You see, we often joke, when we are friends obviously, about being with alternative others. In my case, Mr I earn a small fortune, do all the housework and look after the children whilst you watch TV all the time in a Slanket. Other Half’s perfect wife being, a rich Supermodel who is never out of perfume, short clothing, heels or makeup, is expert at Argentine Tango and thinks Other Half is divine in every conceivable way!
As Other Half pointed out though, as hard as it would be for him to lose me, access to the children on a daily basis, his home (I would need it for residency of the children until they were 18) and a decent income (having to pay maintenance and 2 mortgages) that wouldn’t be the worst of it. For Other Half it would be the shattering of his trust, his dream, his belief in all that we are creating together; past, present and future. Everything he works for goes to me to use in the best interests of our family. Yes, the money purchases items for the present and the future, but it is the trust that we will be there for each other in every situation, no matter how bad that situation may become, that is the true bank that Other Half is investing in.
That has been the case for Other Half’s parents, married many years, and he doesn’t know how to do it any differently. Growing up in a single parent family, differently is all I know. Realising what marriage, commitment, till we are parted by death etc. means to Other Half though, whilst we still love each other, might just make all the difference next time I think that I have the option to walk. The option is always there, I just know in advance the abject pain and misery I would be causing to those concerned, those I love the most, if I were to leave. I’m hoping that for me, when times get tough, that this knowledge will make me stay.
Would you drive a car without learning first how to drive it? Or fix an appliance without first having googled what to do, or at least discussed the problem with someone who could help remedy it? What about expecting to pass an exam without having had a lesson, lecture, seminar, tutorial on it or done any research on the subject?
No, you say, of course not! And yet, another friend, another relationship, is not going well. One party keeps everything going on, bottled inside themselves, the other talks to all and sundry, but essentially only to vent enough steam to be able to continue the modus operandi. At the moment they have no money for counselling, no time to take a marriage course and have no knowledge of self-help books and films that would help them.
This couple have children. Walking away from the relationship would have caused enough damage to the couple and other people in their lives before they had children. Now they have children the damage would be untold! Any of us in a relationship, even the ones we want to be in for all the right reasons, will on a regular basis neither be, nor have a picnic! To continue the metaphor though, if you want decent meals then you had better learn to cook!
None of us can expect a decent relationship without learning first what a decent relationship looks like, finding out how to get one and then finding out how to keep it. We expect no less for the products in our lives, how much more important then, is it to work hard to fix and operate the relationships in our lives, i.e. the things that really count!
Tired of our marital arguments causing distress to our children we have decided to put in some boundaries in the form of RULES! Rather than put them in a negative format we turned them around and made them positive. So:
- no shouting has become speak calmly
- no sarcasm has become speak kindly
- and no sulking has become raise disputes quickly and honestly – whilst of course being calm and kind at the same time!
What a wake up call! Boy have we laughed. You would not believe how often we were raising our voices, being sarcastic and being stroppy. Had it not been for our communal sense of humour we may well have spent the days in silence, albeit for the right reasons!
So far though, so good. Little man isn’t crying and putting his hands over his ears anymore and little lady isn’t informing us that she will not allow her parents to divorce! They say that rules are made to be broken. In our house they may yet be the making of us.
I AM LOVING THIS BOOK! Not because it’s working wonders for my marriage. Probably completely the opposite! And yes Dear, I know you will be reading this! Steal yourself and resolve to stay married beyond the end of the book and then read it from cover to cover. I am only a few chapters in, but my, have a good few things been explained to me already! Like why I turned into Mrs Mop the second I got a ring on my finger. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry and yes I am ashamed to say putting away other half’s underwear into his chest of drawers! This despite the fact that we both worked full time back then. According to Susan Maushart this is perfectly normal behaviour. For herself included and she knew far better than I did!
The following are some of my wake up calls so far:
- that marriage will absolutely make a difference to your relationship and that some of it will be negative
- that the list of wifework listed on p.10 would make me both laugh and cry, not necessarily in healthy proportions
- that there are 3 types of marriage – His, Hers and The Children’s and that the better Her marriage experience is the worse it will be for the other 2 types of marriage involved
- that in my zeal to show I can do anything, it will often feel as though I do everything
- and that the second we had children our marriage stopped being a date!
Did I mention that I am still on chapter 1?
Really though, as much as I love being married and adore being a mother, there was a me too. Reading this book is helping the ‘me’ now and the ‘me’ back then to get re-acquainted.
Love ya hon! Especially because YOU are going to read the book next!