Tag Archives: Marriage

Once again, in a loud voice please

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Let’s start over. From now on, you are to have first pick of the take away menu. You are to have the drumstick, the big slice, the comfy corner of the couch. No more end of the loaf toast for you, no more cold dinner, no more three dollar shampoo.  I don’t ever want to hear you describe yourself as not all that clever ever, ever again. I don’t ever want to hear that acceptance in your voice as you admit that you bought his story that your appearance is somehow less than it should be. From now on we draw a line in the sand. This is acceptable, this is not. And when it is not I want to see you let the tiger out. No more powerlessness, no more keeping quiet, no more waiting and seeing.

I saw it happening, but I didn’t know it until now. I wish I could have saved you from the crushing he has given you as he squashed the fight out of you year upon year upon year. He took away (some of) your spark and that’s not acceptable. I don’t know what kind of fears you have lived with, I don’t know what your new fears are. I hear you say it a lot, that you are frightened. But I want to say to you no. He has taught you that and he’s gone now. He has taught you that you can’t be alone, that you can’t be the strongest person in the house. Every day he has chipped away at you until your own son forgot what your laugh sounded like. Not acceptable.

It’s time now for noisy laughter, for spontaneous decisions, for expensive shampoo. It’s time to own your body and your space and your opinion. No more apologising, much more expecting. No more doubting that you’re worth spending time with. The only reason you didn’t pick up the phone is because he made you believe that nobody wanted to answer. It’s time to separate out the person he stepped on and the person you are. He tried and he failed. No more asking permission no more second guessing. Today is the day for a new haircut, a new puppy and some fresh air.

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Saving your relationship from your kids

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A friend recently threw caution to the wind and bravely asked what all of us have probably wanted to ask a zillion times but were too skittish/scared/embarrassed. I’ll paraphrase her to protect the innocent. Is your relationship surviving your kids? Well is it?

Kids suck the life from your most significant relationship in more ways than you can count. I never seem to be able to write about a thing when I’m knee deep in it. Too emotional, too close for comfort, too much too soon. Maybe it’s dishonest of me not to, but I do know I have more insight when a crisis has passed. We all love hindsight right? I am also bound by my main rule of social media and blogging…husband didn’t sign up, so don’t sign him up. He gets right of veto on anything I put out there. My vow in social media and in general, is to never say anything publicly that would embarrass him, belittle him or cause others to think ill of him. I won’t discuss the intimate details of my relationship with him. But I’ll acknowledge that none of us are alone in various levels of relationship crises brought on by the little angels we, starry eyed and naive, brought into our lives.

There are things I know that see us through the tough times we’ve already had and are having and will have. One of course is dating. We have been totally crap at dating these past two years, but are determined to make it happen again. Leaving the house with nothing but your clutch in one hand and your partner’s hand in the other is a feeling like no other. For the first few minutes you feel like you’ve forgotten something, but then you ease into the quiet conversation that flows on and on without ever being interrupted for fight resolution, toilet assistance or apple peeling.

Quiet time alone has helped us too. We are both capital I Introverts. In the Myers Briggs sense. Time alone is not a luxury, it is a necessity. This is another thing that we are crap at, at the moment. When we make the effort to give each other quiet time, we stupidly wonder at the difference it makes. Like a lot of things, we know what helps, we just forget to do it. Running, for example. It makes me feel amazing, I should have my lazy ass out there every day but I’m doing well if I hit the road two or three times a week.

Some other things that help to kid proof your relationship…

Cuddle often in front of your kids. Don’t let them join in. Let them know that sometimes, mummy/daddy is more important than you are little one.

Let them see you fight, but make sure they see you say sorry.

My husband is trying to make me stop and take a few minutes, with him, just before sunset. The kids are playing, it’s cool, the light is lovely and he almost has to tie me down to stop me from being busy. When I do, it’s lovely. Stop together, every day.

This one I would like to do but it’s hard at the moment when my husband gets set upon the moment he walks in the door. I want me and him to be the first person he and I want to see and say hi to at the end of the day. We’ll get there.

When I am having a conversation with him, and the kids interrupt, they get scolded. I’m snatching some precious seconds here people, wait your turn! In a few ways and at some times, I do want them to know that he comes first.

Nothing new or particularly wise here. It’s hard. Young kids will make you or break you. They used to say that about travelling together. Nothing so far has been as hard as this for us. What is different now is that I feel great excitement for the years to come. I don’t have any doubt that it will be easier, more fun, full of laughs and maybe even some travel. I am already feeling moments of peace that I didn’t have for quite a few years. Just little pauses in the chaos that are coming more frequently and are lasting just that little bit longer.

Virtually Married

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How does procreation affect a marriage? We have had the heartbreaking news recently of more than one set of friends seeing their relationships falter and fail. I feel sick to my stomach with the sadness of it, so I cannot imagine how painful it must be to go through. Kids are cited as a major pressure, not the ’cause’, but a major, major pressure. With about a third of marriages in Australia ending in divorce, it is perhaps pessimistic, but sadly realistic to say that these will not be the last of our friends to go through such a seismic life change.

I once would have said that there was no way my marriage would end in divorce. No. Way. I am far more realistic now. I would like to know the statistics on families with multiples and divorce/separation rates. Someone once (perhaps well meaningly) said to me see, having twins is no big deal. Well, I can tell you, it’s been the biggest deal of my life thus far. It has nearly broken me and it has come close to breaking my marriage. I just wrote and then deleted a whole qualification on how I shouldn’t look at things so negatively and had better count my blessings. Our experiences are what they are. For better or for worse, these are my thoughts, feelings and learnings.

We have spent years putting off conversations. Years of nights too tired or talked out to talk again once that sweet silence descends on the house. Years of we really should get a babysitter this weekend only to forget. Years of texting each other important stuff because it is only in that second when the thought comes to you that you can remember what it was you had been meaning to say for weeks. Years of frenetic pace, much too fast to look, listen, be gentle, talk softly. Years of everyone else but us. Years of just just keeping our heads above water.

We have pledged and pledged again to each other that we will not do that to each other, our kids, our family, our friends. No doubt about it, we have had our moments. My I wanna hurt myself moments are often accompanied by I also wanna leave. But I do not. Want to. I want him and everything that goes along with him. He has taken to leaving me notes around the house. I call him every afternoon when I get into the car for my half hour drive home form work. I am always home first. When he finally comes in the door I feel better. He has heard all my stories. He is still extremely funny. Yes, I love him, but apart from that, I really like him. This life has stretched us to the very limit. We have been close to broken and there are many things that need repair, but we are not broken. I’m a bit broken myself, but it’s nothing a bit of mind and heart work can’t fix.

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Random acts so far…

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I’m having a lot of fun with this. It’s hard to be original and avoid spending money, but it has been so nice just to think of him for a good part of the day and just devote time to doing something nice for him. I may have to repeat some things, or copy his but I think it is important not to put rules on it. And as I have tried to stress to my husband, simple is good! The random acts shouldn’t take a huge amount of time and definitely not large amounts of money. We have both spent some time working on a bit of a list and I gave him some help by way of some hints. But hey, it’s supposed to be fun not stressful. He is feeling the pressure now, 4 days in and tells me he may steal my ideas. I have no problem with this. Don’t we always give gifts that reflect what we ourselves would like to receive? So here’s what we came up with so far.

Day 1: We both came up with foot massages. Not original, but really nice!

Day 2: He came up with googling the sheet music to two of my favourite songs so we could have a bash together while he played guitar. Let’s hear it ladies! He forgot his lunch and his keys that day so I made a loving mercy dash to deliver them, three kids in tow! Yay for me!

Day 3: I got a little pot of gourmet ice-cream from the local deli (vanilla bean and candied ginger). Ginger is his favourite, so it went down a treat. I got a shoulder rub. Simple but soooooooo relaxing!

Day 4: I sent him nice text messages through the day. My aim was one per hour but the day was too busy. I managed 4 and they were very genuine and not soppy. He bought some new drinking glasses for us and cooked dinner.

It’s really great. Fun. And it changes the whole tone of every day. I look forward to making it a habit.

Dude, where’s my marriage?

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What’s the cost of your kids to your relationship? I’d like to see statistics on whether partnerships with kids are happier or longer than those without. I have recently read something abut women with more kids living longer than those with fewer. No idea why. I’m pretty certain more kids would send me into an early grave. From the little I’ve read on the topic, it appears from some studies that while the kids are at home, parents report a lower level of happiness, but once they move out parents report higher degrees of happiness in relation to being parents. This makes sense in that kids, for the most part, are awesome. But raising them sucks the life outta you. So while doing the hard yards, parents not so happy. Once the kids are self sufficient, (hopefully) achieving success in life, doin’ cool stuff on their own, parents a bit more happy. I am simplifying and generalising. But it’s my blog and I’ll generalise if I want to.

My husband and I were discussing the impact of kids on our marriage in the light of our recent tension free weekend away. There is no doubt that the little angels have been white-anting our relationship from within like, well, little white ants. Stress and exhaustion have turned our once lengthy conversations into single digit syllables long requests, reports, questions and answers. It’s about functionality, survival and logistics, where it was once about politics, jokes, travelling, dreams, the future and yes even parenting. It’s so easy, when my head is constantly in organisation and management mode, moving at a perpetual lightening speed, to forget to use something as simple as manners when speaking to my husband. We decided that, if we boiled it down, what was lacking at the moment was pretty simple. One, thinking of each other and two, kindness. We are always thinking of something else, the next thing, so we have made a habit of putting thoughts of each other last. And in the frenetic pace of getting sh*t done, we have forgotten the value of simple kindness.

Our life changing challenge to each other is this. Inspired by a friend who is doing one random act of kindness for a stranger every day for the whole month, we have decided to try it on each other. It’s not a new idea, but it’s a good one. If I want to see change in my world, my life, my work or my relationships, the only way to do it is to be that change myself. If I want more kindness, I have to be kinder. If I want more communication, I must communicate. It is the only way to change one’s own situation. It’s simple and it is true. I think it’s going to be immeasurably wonderful. We each have to make a list of 30 simple random acts so that we don’t have to think of one on the trot every day. I can’t wait. Bring on the happy.

The cost and benefit

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*big dramatic sigh*

When I was pregnant, I often thought that it was worse having just that very small glass of wine rather than none at all, because I’d just want more. So too with last weekend’s brief escape. My parents came up for the weekend and stayed at our house with the kids while my husband and I hightailed it outta there. Pretty much exactly 48 hours we were away and it felt like about 48 minutes. As we drove into the driveway, arriving home, I turned to my husband and said, did we even go?

It was lovely, of course. Just the simple matter of not having to plan, prepare, anticipate, pack, organise, negotiate or mediate. No thinking, pretty much, at all. We didn’t even think much about where or when to eat. We had no plan, and that, was heaven. I was blissed out just doing nothing, reading, laying around, drinking wine at 3 in the afternoon. Because I could. My husband had a little more trouble with doing nothing. He got a bit bored but I think that was for want of a good book. Mental note: next time make sure husband has good books.

We missed the kids, of course, kind of, well actually…I didn’t. I missed them in that I wanted to return to them (at some point), and in that I didn’t want them to be someone else’s kids, but no, I didn’t actually miss them. I had the post holiday blues before I even got home and I wanted another day. It has actually taken me a few days to write about this because I was feeling so down when we came back. I felt like the life got sucked right out of me again. Kids take more than they give there’s no doubt about that. It’s this inexplicable, altruistic, parental love that keeps pulling us back in. That and the cute way they look at you when they know they’ve done something naughty.

I remarked to my husband sometime about 24 hours in that not a single tense word had been spoken between the two of us. There was no shouting to be heard above the din, no snippy comments about whose turn it was to change the nappy bomb and no stress in our tired bodies to drain away any desire for conversation. Within an hour of arriving home, I could feel the tension creeping back in my body, my sentences shortening, my tone hardening and my head packing full again with no space for anything so luxurious as communicating.

It’s hard. Sometimes it’s just hard.