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.
I read an article some time back, probably in the Guardian, but for the life of me can I find it now? Not amongst the stack of Saturday sections that I have yet to plough my way through, nor a quick, yet thorough search for said article online.
So why mention it now if all is done and dusted? For the simple reason that I seem to have been quoting it an awful lot to men and women of a certain age – think special birthday of mine coming up next week – who think the whole marriage and kids thing has passed them by.
“Wrong!” I quickly inform them, referring to this story that I read. So for any of you who may also be thinking that unwanted singledom is to be your lot, or the lot of a friend or family member of yours, read the following and take heart!
A woman who thought she would obviously be remaining single having gotten into her late 30s without a significant other, then meets someone and gets married at 40. Despite all the articles to the contrary, she gets pregnant soon afterwards (naturally) and has a child at 42, as I recall. Wanting a second child, this woman is able to have another child at 45. Job done! Thinking at 48 though, that she is going through an early menopause, lo and behold, you can imagine the joy to find that it is baby number 3 instead! Yes husband was about 10 years junior, but Mum’s age was Mum’s age, so do be inspired.
I love such stories because you just couldn’t make them up!
Yesterday evening I watched the film Love and Drugs with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal about a serial womaniser who falls in love for the first time! A catch enough in itself, except that the woman he falls for is also sick with the early onset of degenerative Parkinson’s disease.
Such a condition is would be a lot for any couple to get their head round, let alone a brand new couple, one of whom has never been committed in their life! Needless to say, when Jake’s character is given advice to run for the hills by a husband of a fellow Parkinson’s sufferer, he heeds the advice, probably thinking he had had a lucky escape.
Love is a funny thing though, as the last 10 minutes of the film point out. If love, in the form of someone, touches you, there is no going back. As the film is based on a true story, so it will ring true for most people in a relationship. No, having a debilitating illness as part of the equation is far from ideal and possibly at the extreme end of what most couples have to cope with. How often though have you wished he didn’t snore or that she was a little bit slimmer? That he would just listen more instead of jumping in with the answers or that she wasn’t always so tired when you were in the mood and so on?
I have already written of how I would like another child, whilst at the moment Other Half wants to stick at two. There is nothing to stop me having another child if I really want, right now, but it wouldn’t be his. Other Half could have a wife right now who was more than happy to stop at two children, she just wouldn’t be me!
And therein lies the crux. You don’t get perfect. You probably don’t even get ideal. You get who you want though and, for all their faults, be honest, you wouldn’t have it any other way!
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!
Another shock this week that all is not well with a friend’s relationship behind closed doors. This is not the first case of being enlightened about the truth of what is going on behind the scenes with a friend and I am certain that it won’t be the last. Perhaps because I ask ‘meaningful’ questions, or because of my love of self help, people think I will be able to help and they make me become a party to a lot of information that, for the circles I run in, could make your hair curl!
Credit to them for sharing and keeping it real. Thankfully a lot of the time I am able to help, or at least my book collection is! It is just a reminder though, that most of us, intentionally or not, will seem one way when actually, very often things are another way. To you a person might look like they are the most sorted, have the perfect relationship, are minted and doing fabulously at work. In my experience, it is often said person whose relationship is heading for the rocks, lives on a permanent overdraft that is not about to be paid off anytime soon, has had verbal warnings at work and is on the verge of a nervous breakdown!
How would you know this though, because to your eyes their life is going swimmingly? Just remember, the next time that you think your life sucks and that xyz are royally getting on your nerves because life couldn’t be going any better for them… chances are all is not well for them too in some area of their life. That is just life… for us all. Time to build our garden fence a little higher and start watering and composting our own garden, I think. Just don’t ask me how I worked this particular post out!
Me jealous? Envious? Never…
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!