Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Anatomy of A Marriage, Eight Years On

Many years ago, upset with V, I wrote about what marriage means to me. When I read those posts I marvel at them, not because of the honesty (I am still as honest as ever in my blogging) but because of how much of myself I was willing to post on a public forum. I suppose that is the difference between being in my twenties and being in my thirties. I used to be painfully anxious that people understood me; now I no longer care whether they do or not. There was a line between wanting to not care and actually not caring. I approached the line, hovered over it for ages, and finally crossed it. Once breached, you can't go back to being that anxious, thank heavens.

That said, it's reassuring that the idea of marriage has not changed as far as I'm concerned. There have been many ups and downs in the seven years since. There have been lies and losses; births and weddings. Through it all I maintain:

1. Marriage is about equality and equivalency. At least for me it is. What I do is not as important as knowing that my husband is putting in as much work into our partnership as I am. Having been the person who worked harder for many years, sometimes, especially now, I feel that he is putting in more than he gets. Which is fine with me. In the long run the gifts are evening themselves out. But I have to feel prized. Not everybody feels the same way I know, but this is how I feel.

2. Absolute fidelity. Last year I kissed somebody else and it wasn't a kiss the way you're thinking but even that I realised was unacceptable to me. It's not so much what I want to do as what I'm willing to accept from V. Do unto others. I still don't flirt around much.

3. My privacy has become precious to me. Now I share myself only as far as I choose. Earlier I thought I had to give everything of myself but I don't think that any more.

4. Cuddles are important. We are a family where both parents work mostly from home. We are together all the ruddy time. It's very easy for us to start snarling at each and keep snarling all day if only because we don't know how to stop. It's easy to forget to hold hands or hug or pat heads if you see somebody all day everyday.

5. Money decisions need not be taken together, as long as they are not disputed. Ideally both of us work in tandem but in real life this does not happen. As a consequence we also need to budget for expenses that the other person has made. This is not as chaotic as it sounds. It can be something as frivolous as a meal out or as bread-and-butter as school uniform purchases -- occasionally something extra is spent, usually by one person without consulting the other, and our budget has learnt to leave wiggle room for this.

6. I knew we would be expected to grow old together but I never really considered that we would also be growing up together. We hide from the kids together and hide things from our parents together. Though that doesn't sound particularly grown up to me!

7. Consequences must be mutual too. Over the years I have tried and tried to show Vicky how we all pay for each person's mistakes. Obviously I did this because he kept making mistakes and I kept paying for them. Now though, he has paid for a few I have made, has helped right those wrongs and seen the damage. There is nothing like facing consequences together to remind you not to repeat a mistake.

8. Mutual respect and liking, words that trip so readily off our tongues, are the mainstay of any relationship I'm in. I have to like V. There have been so many phases, and such long ones too, when I couldn't bear the sight of him, that I'm thankful for the ones where I do like him. I have also noticed that in the middle of one of the phases where I find him unbearable, he will suddenly say something or do something utterly unremarkable that will nevertheless remind me of the young man he used to be -- and that young man I liked. He remains unbearable but this flash reminds me that this is a phase and will pass, which is soothing.

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