Is marriage what I expected when I stood at that altar all those years ago?
Perhaps. It would have helped if either one of us had been grown ups or I hadn’t been looking through the rose-tinted glasses of a bride, more concerned about whether the wedding favors matched the flowers, or where I could smoke in a marquee. But a warning about the shit stains in the loo, the money worries and the curse of children wouldn’t have gone amiss, so my first secret is tolerance. Because whenever the old man fucks up, I always try to remember that no-one is perfect, even though I come pretty close.
I do miss being able to do exactly what I want to do all the time. Last Sunday was the perfect example of where compromise sucks. NC and I decided to watch the first season of a new series together and after a six-hour mammoth session of over-achievement, the old man dared to demand the tv room back, so while she sloped off to watch the rest of the series in her bedroom, I was left to sulk and invent new forms of torture for him. You spend a lot of time planning your partner’s death in marriage.
Communication and mutual interests are hugely important, which is why we continue to drink copious amounts of wine together. I did invite him to hot yoga with me – normal yoga during the menopause – but that was obviously never going to happen. “Walking” together clears the cobwebs and eases the tensions in neutral territory where we can discuss important shit without access to crockery to throw. Who knows, this time next year we could be gardening together.
Admittedly, I never thought we’d make the twenty-four-year mark and having realistic expectations has helped. I carried the stigma of being the first child of a divorce at school – please refer to scarred by my parents – so I was skeptical about marriage. But so far, we’ve weathered the near cyclonic storms with minimal damage – both the ones I’ve created because I like the sound of my own voice as well as the ones that life has thrown at us, such as the loss of loved ones, career disappointments, money lost through investment and that murky bag of smaller, miscellaneous disappointments that form part of the fabric of life. So you need backbone and commitment to keep going, as well as something that comes later in life for me – an appreciation of the little things.
Trust is a huge part of marriage. I admit that I am one of those stupid women to entrust my husband with our money – mainly because I am useless with it and we would be living on the streets if I managed it for us. A ‘running away’ account is currently being negotiated because we I am very open like that. In much the same way, he has entrusted me with the organization of our social life, because he is useless with people and would become a hermit somewhere in the Snowy Mountains if allowed.
And my last secret is that you need to cuddle. A lot. Now, I’m not a natural cuddler – see ref. above about being screwed up as a child – but the old man is like a big teddy bear that needs to feel loved. Some might call him “needy.”
Twenty-five years might be pushing it if the old man’s rabbit in the headlights expression was anything to go by when I said we need to do something amazing next year – please refer to realistic expectations above.
Here they are again: