If my marriage was over, what would I miss? And not miss…

July 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 2 Comments
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This evening has been somewhat of a struggle. It’s roasting hot for a start. Don’t curse me, I love it, but my post-baby thigh-wobble was rubbing slightly.

More irksome that the slight sweat rash was being home alone for the start of the weekend, and what feels like the start of summer.

I fed and watered two over-tired and clammy boys. One projectile-gobbing strawberries across the length of the dining table in some kind of very British show of support for the tennis and the other moving food slowly from one side of his plate to the other, complaining of a tummy ache (overdue poo). At the same time he’s wailing in some kind of tones not even a primary school violinist could match, moaning that the ache would go if he was presented with a Tangle Twister. Or just a Twister as they may now be called.

After scraping the discarded pasta, bread, rice cakes and cheese from the (brand new, slightly overpriced) floor, the Tripp Trapp, the table (new, not overpriced, but still new) and my once white and pale blue sequinned t-shirt, I thought ahead to bath time.

It would have to be a shower. Flying solo on a Friday night, pre open bottle of wine is always a little daunting. I sometimes find myself floating into a daze where I fast forward past the bath, bottles, teeth brushing, stories, loo trips, tucking in, even the kisses – right through to me sitting at the table eating something that involves pastry, a rich thick sauce and possibly something sweet and chocolately afterwards.

The entire process is far easier when you are two. And I am very lucky to be one of two. Some days it can be kind of hard to appreciate that fact, but for the vast majority of the last ten years I’ve felt very grateful. Especially on that April day in 2005 when my now husband and I decided to set our differences aside and make a go of our relationship after a desperate and desolate six week break when we reviewed our differing goals and desires for our lives ahead.

The initial reason I thought about writing this post was down to the fact that there’s a party in store. It’s the eve of my lovely parents 40th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Tomorrow, 80, yes eight – zero friends and loved ones will join them to toast everything that they’ve achieved since they married as 21 year old sweethearts all those years ago.

Marquee, disco ball, band, food, dancing – the whole shebang. Well, it’s not every day you make it to this kind of milestone.

Forty. That takes some doing.

And knowing that I’ve inherited both good and bad traits from both of my parents, as well as having spent the past month during our house renovations living under the same roof as my dear mum and dad, I know two things.

One. There must be days when they both say ‘bloody hell you’re driving me around the twist’.

Two. There are must be days when they smile to themselves over their ritual soup and a roll lunch and think ‘bloody hell I’m so lucky to have found the one’.

Tonight I’m going to bed alone but tomorrow my husband will be home. I must remember point two when he returns tired and irritable, wanting his bed and using the ‘shall we tidy the house a bit today?’ approach. Because we all know who the ‘we’ in this house is.

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So I’m not necessarily leaving you with this, but reminding myself of this. If my marriage is over what would I miss?

Here goes.

1. Laughing uncontrollably and asking him to carry me to bed. Followed by further hysterics when he actually agrees to do it.

2. Posting things down the back of his trousers when he’s not looking. Like the sopping wet washing up sponge.

3. Sitting in an Oxford cafe on a Sunday morning eating a full English.

4. Him seeking out the window seat so we can people watch.

5. That he tells Sky that we watch rom coms….oh and action films.

6. The tolerance of my car boot bargain addiction. Or the fact that he pretends not to see my haul. Or that he doesn’t tell me I’m stupid for not checking the printer in the box was the same as the picture on the box. We learn from our mistakes.

7. That he finds me attractive after two children with zero attempts to diet my way back to being a lollypop head.

8. That he holds open the door.

9. That he posts Instagram photos for me with our own hashtag when he’s away.

10. That he always asks how my day was. And listens.

We all know that no marriage is perfect. If you think you have one, you’re in denial about something or other. So I will leave you with this.

Things I wouldn’t miss.

1. ‘Where else is my wet towel supposed to go?’

2. ‘Shall we think about cleaning this carpet?’.

3. ‘I’m going to pop to the gym’.

4. ‘How long will dinner be?’, ‘5 minutes’, ‘Can I eat a snack very quickly? Just a sandwich?’

5. ‘Can you take the baby, I can’t sort two children at the same time’.

6. ‘Is there any milk?’

7. ‘There’s no milk’

8. ‘I haven’t got any clean pants, are we doing a wash today?’

9. ‘I can’t put it away, I don’t know where it goes’

10. ‘Have we got my mum a birthday present?’

I guess if I’m keeping lists I may not make it to 40 years.

Happy anniversary mum and dad – I’m extremely proud of you.

Oh and finally, by some strange, binding coincidence, I’m currently on chapter two of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin which is about marriage. This quote stuck with me.

“The atmosphere of my marriage set the weather for my whole life”.

And now we are in a heat wave. Hopefully a marital scorcher too. Full circle. Which reminds me of something my dad said in his father of the bride speech about him wanting me to meet and marry a man I loved. I did Dad.

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What are the most important qualities in a husband?

September 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 3 Comments
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According to an article in The Telegraph today, the modern man now values our brain over our bodies.  At last, step off the treadmill ladies.  Although the modern woman is probably keeping in shape for herself, not her man.

In contrast, the report reveals that women are becoming increasingly obsessed with the appearance of the opposite sex as finding a man who can offer us financial security becomes less of a concern.  This is based on the fact that more and more women are becoming the breadwinner in the home or at least have a well-paying career to fall back on.

If you’re married, what do you recall your top five must haves being when hunting for a husband?  And if you’re single, are the qualities you look for different now to they were 10 or 20 years ago?

I’d hazard a guess that when I was single, yes looks came high up on the list, as did exciting career and bags of money.  I wonder if Anastasia Steele had extreme sexual preferences on her list?

Now, settled into married life with a son and baby on the way, the qualities I value in my husband have changed somewhat.  Those now being his sense of humour, value of family life and wealth of general knowledge – of which when it comes to geography and history in particular, I am distinctly lacking.

Regardless of my career or income status I think I’d always like my partner to have a good job and decent income – it’s about more than paying the mortgage, it’s about their drive, ambition and commitment.  But I can definitely believe that the 2012 woman is far less worried about being supported or given spending money – a husband that holds the purse strings is never a good thing.

So, here’s my 2012 must have husband traits, would be interested to know yours.

1. Sense of humour

2. Family values

3. Looks (or equally as important, dress sense)

4. General knowledge / ability to take part in Trivial Pursuit

5. Sense of priority (ie: dinner with me vs trip to the gym….)

We’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no such thing as an ideal man, but if you’ve found something near to perfect, what are his top five qualities?  Let’s start some husband envy.

Image courtesy of TedxPioneerValley2012 on Flickr Creative Commons

The art of starting an argument, and winning it

February 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 2 Comments
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So husband and I are having a ‘spat’. At this precise moment I am in the bath with our three year old and we are playing ‘you be Batman and I’ll be a dinosaur mummy’ which is more often than not the game of choice at the moment with our role play obsessed son.

Husband is sitting on the toilet seat and he is rather irritated. This is because prior to being in the bathroom I’d be in the lounge with him debating the frequency of his trips to the gym and the resulting impact on our family routine. Especially at weekends when quite frankly there are far better things to be doing than flexing and lunging.

Having started running the taps already, I huffed off with toddler under one arm for dramatic effect. I may have also muttered something not very affectionate on my way. I knew I was on the back foot anyway as I was yet to announce that we would be stopping into Ikea on our way home from the inlaws later that day. My husband, like most husbands has a severe intolerance to the big yellow and blue outlet, especially on a weekend.

So all three of us are in the bathroom. “But you do work emails and write your blog in the evenings, how is that any different?” says husband from his throne to kick off the debate.

“When was the last time I did work emails at home?!” I retorted defensively. And here in lies the issue of pretty much any argument a couple will ever have – backing up your case.

Flustered, the best my husband could say was “all the time, I always catch you in your inbox”. So, not having had time to prepare, the only option is to throw something back and hope it sticks; “The point I’m trying to make is not how often you do it, but that you have such double standards” he ventures, trying a new approach.

And then he adds “when do I ever go to the gym without asking you first?!” Damn, damn, damn, damn and damn I curse. Of course I can’t think of a time. And even worse why should he even have to ask for my permission. This is so not going well.

We were discussing such tactical arguments with sister in law and her other half this weekend. Having all agreed wholeheartedly with much nodding that bickering, even on a daily basis was sometimes a necessity within any solid loving relationship, we all felt much better and considered ourselves totally ‘normal’ once more.

We also concurred that it is absolutely and totally impossible to think of examples to back up your case in the heat of an argument when faced with a question such as “so when was the last time I did that?!” Being asked to defend your case is maddenning, infuriating and brain frying. It also tends to result in mud slinging and very much un-thought through and regrettable comments such as “you’re a complete arse” or “I don’t know why I bother”, or even “do I have to do everything in this relationship?!” Not good.

By now my extremities are more than wrinkly and three year old has poured one too many cups of water over the side of the bath so I figure that I need to wrap up and more importantly win this debate – pronto.

“Listen, babe,” I opt for – softly softly trick the monkey style. “Let’s not fight, I love our weekends together, as a family – I’m sorry, you go to the gym and I’ll just blog when you’re not around from now on. This is a two way relationship, let’s be more mindful of what each other wants”. Muaw huh huh huh – a surprised and warming to me again expression creeps across husband’s face as he sinks into a more comfortable position on the bog.

“Ah thanks babe, love you; ok let’s do that”.

I’m out and almost dry by now and husband is heading down the stairs with a renewed spring in his step.

“Oh sweetie?” I call after him. “Yes lover?”…

“We just need to nip into Ikea later…..”

With you my dear

October 13, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 4 Comments
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With you my dear, I sit in contented silence, Because true love speaks for itself.

With you my dear, there are no secrets, because true love tells no lies.

With you my dear, I have a best friend forever, because true love is a life-long companion.

With you my dear, I can see even when the view is cloudy, because true love guides us through.

With you my dear, I am never afraid.

With you my dear, on this adventure as husband and wife, true love will protect and keep us close.

 

Image courtesy of Nanagyei on Flickr Creative Commons.

Just the two of us

May 9, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 9 Comments
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I met a really lovely girl recently, not someone I’d usually come into contact with and she gave me a little food for thought about relationships.

We were talking weddings and she said that she’d happily marry her partner on a beach in the middle of nowhere, just the two of them and the ocean waves rippling in the background.

Apart from thinking that I’d get too sweaty to enjoy myself, to me that said an awful lot.  That her relationship is just about them.  Not what other people think or want.  It wouldn’t be a day to show off and be the centre of attention or be showered with best wishes.  They’re truly, madly, deeply in love and all that would matter to her on her wedding day is the fact that they are soul mates.

Now, I on the other hand was at the local Nisa buying wedding magazines at 7am the morning after I got engaged.  I’d started a spreadsheet within a matter of hours and we’d set a date within two days.  Bridezilla was born.

I didn’t find the planning process stressful – I loved every moment of it.  I even wanted to become a wedding planner at one point.

For me it was all about a big white wedding – and I went for a huge meringue of a dress.  I wanted everyone to be there to see us take our vows.  And I wanted people to shed a tear.

We had dance lessons (admittedly I still had two left feet) and we took our places centre stage for the first dance to The Magic Numbers.

This was my moment.

So what does that say about our relationship?  I too believe that I met and married my soul mate.  We have our off days (days where I say things like ‘have you finished with that plate?!’ the moment he puts it down) but we have a solid marriage.

It did make me question though, would I be happy getting married on a beach, just the two of us?

I don’t think I could do it.  I might have to Facebook and Tweet every moment of the day so I felt like I had a virtual congregation.

I don’t really have a conclusion to draw – any grand and closing statement to make, but I do think it’s good to take a leaf from this girls book – she’s definitely got her priorities in life right.  Anyway, I have a good excuse, I’m only 5ft 1, there’s no way I’d get married barefoot….

A short post for my husband – inspired by The Notebook

July 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 4 Comments
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Tonight husband and I watched The Notebook.  Watching a film together isn’t just a night in front of the box, it’s rare quality time together, just the two of us, on the sofa  We celebrated our third wedding anniversary this week.  I know we’ll make it to thirty.  And more.

As long as he stops leaving his wet bath towel on the bed that is.

I think the film ended about half an hour ago, my eyes are still red and watery.  My face is puffy.  I am a complete softy when it comes to love stories.

If you don’t know the story, here’s the plot of The Notebook.  Without giving it all away if you haven’t seen it.

A more than a few snotty tissues later, inspired by a story of true love, forever after, here is a letter that I’d like my husband to read when we’re old and grey.

If there is such a thing as love at first sight, then we saw it.

If soul mates really exist, then you are mine.

If something was ever meant to be, then we were.

I’ve loved you from the start, even over the hills and mountains.

I think we both had hope when we were apart.

You complete me, and my life, and I can’t imagine a life without you.

We joke about booking ahead, into a nice retirement home, so we can be together.

We laugh about making the most of having free time, people to care for us, afternoons of old movies and board games.

As long as you promise that we’ll always do everything together.

As long as you promise that we’ll stay together even if one of us needs more help than the other.

I miss you just thinking about you.

I go to sleep each night comforted by knowing that I have you.

I wake up each morning knowing nothing can touch me, because I have you.

I love you.

Writing Workshop Week 26: My Holiday Romance

June 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Posted in writing workshops | 12 Comments
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I wrote this for a writing competition for a magazine.  I never heard anything after I sent it off….so I guess I didn’t win!  And therefore I judge it ok to use for a far better cause, the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop.

It’s quite long, but stick with me.

Dear Tom

It’s been six years since I dropped you at the train station.  I know you thought it was for the best.

As I drove my heart was pounding.  We got closer and closer to Oxford.  And you leaving.  With every minute that went by I knew my time to change your mind was slipping away.  You seemed so adamant, and my head spun as I tried to comprehend how our soul mate type relationship was vanishing before my eyes.

‘Promise me you’ll go to your parents’ you said as we stood on the platform.  I nodded blankly, my eyes thick with tears.  I asked you to hold me and you did.  I hated you for that in the days afterwards.

I did go to my parents.  The shock on their faces almost knocked me to the floor.  I was in a daze as I told them that it was over.  It was my fault, I think.  Mum text you – you always were a golden boy in their eyes.  You told them to take care of me.

I spent the next few days on auto pilot.  I even took a day off work, my boss found a compassionate side that I hadn’t seen before.  I juggled the need to be alone with the bigger need for company and distraction.

I stayed at Mum and Dad’s, not wanting to go home to my dark and empty flat.  I crumbled into a ball in the spare bed, barely able to breathe, but unwilling to surface above the covers.

I went out and got drunk, facing joint friends for the first time; some unaware of our separation, asking after you, shocked and embarrassed by the news they hadn’t expected.  I drank shots, wine, anything.  I smoked.  A lot.

I called your sister to say sorry.  I wonder now what for.  She was in Morrison’s with your mum, they sobbed down the phone.  It gave me unexpected strength.  I replied that I was fine and it was for the best.  I was parked in a lay-by near Mum and Dad’s.  I stayed there for two cigarettes afterwards.  I felt hoarse.

We had met on holiday eighteen months earlier.  An unexpected romance.  A shared kiss in a nightclub, captured on camera.  It’s still my favourite picture of us.  Me in my white boots, army skirt and sweatbands.  You were cute, blonde and tanned.  The boy next door.  I thought I was an R&B queen that year; three trips to the same holiday island.  My parents suggested I might want to start saving for a house.  I ignored their advice, intent on living the dream.

That was the start of our long distance relationship.  A long distance relationship that couldn’t go the distance.  Up at 5am to drive the M6 journey home in time for work.  Depressing Sunday night separations as we went our own ways for the week ahead.  Long phone calls, mainly silence as we ran out of things to say but felt committed to ‘chat’ every day.  I did, making you feel guilty and frustrated.

While we were apart I wondered what you were doing every day.  You were working on a really important, high pressured job.  I imagined you just getting stuck in and getting on with it, while I was still unable to function.  I hated that thought.

I called you a few times in the early days, desperate to talk.  You told me it wasn’t a good idea.  You kept saying you would have to put the phone down.  My stomach lurched each time I realised there was no hope.

One day when I called I asked what you were doing.  You said your sister was coming over to watch a DVD.  I resented your close relationship.  I said I could come too, just to hang out.  I was out of my mind.  You said it was crazy.  It was a definite no.

Another day I drove the 100 miles to your house, just to see where you lived once more.  My grief was spiralling into irrational behaviour.  I still had a key.  I collected a few belongings from your room, making it obvious I had been.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  I sat in the car around the corner.  And smoked again.  A bad habit was developing, a crutch.  I saw your house mate come and go.  Eventually I drove back home.

I had your email password, I checked your email.  Obsessively.  I waited for emails from other women, wanting to put a concrete reason behind our break up.  Nothing.  Then you changed your password.

Then one day, out of the blue, you called.  You had text me during the day and asked if you could.  Since we split up my phone had been sitting next to my keyboard on my desk.  On the loudest setting.  I tried to wait at least a minute before I replied saying yes, call me.

It was hours before you text me back.  I had the afternoon off.  I was in Pilot when you text and said you’d call on your way home.  I don’t think Pilot exists any more.  I wondered how I would possibly pass the hours before I would speak to you.  My heart raced, and thoughts rushed through my head, what would you say to me – a change of mind?

We talked for about an hour.  I was in the car on my way home when you called.  I sat in traffic, mesmerised by the sound of your voice.  We laughed like nothing had happened.  I dreamt  that nothing had.

Then you said goodbye.  I was walking on air but more confused than ever.  You sad you missed me but gave no sign that it was anything more than that.  I was going out with a friend that night.  We drank a lot.  Everything blurred between reality and a drunken haze.

We danced in a small trashy market town bar.  We sent text messages to ourselves which displayed on a huge screen by the dance floor, pretending to be admiring men.  I did that, really, I did.  This was the bottom.

The next morning a vodka cloud hung over me.  I text you needing answers.  Is that it?!  Why did you call? Just to chat you said.  I miss you.  Nothing more.  I was devastated.

I wondered how I would start again with someone else.  I didn’t ever want to be with anyone else but you.  You were my Mr Right.  My life was planned with you at the centre.

I moved back into my flat a few days after we split up.  Moving away from the support and reassurance of my parents.  I wanted some space.  I tried to start picking myself back up.

I still wasn’t alright though.  I felt vacant.  I went to the pub with friends.  I drank cup after cup of comfort tea.  Wine wasn’t the answer.  I contributed to conversations, adding no opinion or personality.  I hung out with my all so settled and happy friends, jealous of their contented lives.  Bitterness was not an attractive trait.

Then one day you really did call.  I’d been to the cinema with a girlfriend.  When I checked my phone after the show I had a message from you.  You wanted to see me.  I couldn’t get home quick enough.  I didn’t call you.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

You called me.  You wanted to see me.  I drove the familiar two hour journey to your house and shook as I rang the door bell.  When you opened the door you smiled a nervous half smile and I struggled to hold it together.

We went for something to eat and I asked if it was ok if I smoked.  You could still smoke in pubs then.  We sat in a cloud as I nervously tried to waft the fumes away.  Crying in public wasn’t really what I was aiming for but it was going to happen.

You told me you had made a big mistake and you were sorry.  These were the words I thought I’d never hear.  I hung on every sound you made, trying to absorb what was happening.  I looked into your eyes and saw that you meant it.  I was unable to speak.

You said you felt that there were things you needed to do as a single man.  Travel the world.  Experience life.  But now you realised that you didn’t want to do anything alone, you wanted to experience life with me.  Relief swept over me.  Strong enough to shake me.

We were back together.  No hesitation.  No doubt.  This wasn’t the first of many break ups, it was the one and only time.  We could beat this.  We were strong enough I knew it.  We ate yuk sung.  It was nice.

We went to your parents house.  As the door opened your step dad greeted us.  I cried as he hugged me.  The warmth of your family surrounded me.  We went upstairs and opened the bedroom door to your mum.  She sobbed, we giggled and hugged.

We went out to eat, it must have been dinner time.  I hid behind the seat as your sister arrived, and almost fell trying to get up to hug her when she saw me.

All of this happened in just five weeks.  The longest, most testing, most exhausting five weeks of my life.  But it’s made us the couple we are today.

We travelled the world together and married three years after this all happened.  You proposed and we moved in together.  We set up home together.

Then 18 months ago we had a son.  We almost lost him in the early stages, but he had our fighting spirit, he hung on and now he is the centre of our life, and our future.  He is a little daddy’s boy, and it fills me with joy to see you together.  Even when he pushes me away for your attention.

Now, we face new challenges.  Conceiving a second child isn’t coming easy and it’s an emotional roller coaster.  But, another challenge that we will get through together.  Our beautiful son came to us so easily, it’s been a shock for it to be so hard second time around.  We’ll get there.

I sit writing this, eyes heavy with sleep.  You’re working a night shift tonight.  I used to like my evenings in to potter around but I need you more than ever, and wish we could be together 24 hours a day.

I almost lost you as I pushed and pushed you to commit when we’d only been together a matter of months.  I thank my lucky stars that we had a second chance.

You make me the person I am today.  I didn’t know who I was until I met you.  I am content with life.  Content with my obsession for hoovering, talent for making hand made cards, and enjoyment of cooking the family meals.  I am not boring as I once feared.  You showed me that.

I am no longer the fiery boisterous red head.  There is still red under these highlights I am sure, but you have calmed and matured me.  I like the Mrs me much more.

If I don’t tell you enough, know that I admire and believe in you.  I admire your values and drive.  Most importantly, I love you.

Catherine, your wife, your soul mate.  It was meant to be.  You were meant for me.

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