What is marriage?

Sunday 22 February 2015

Brilliant blue skies with cloud later
9 degrees

Wake early and write.  There is something blissful about having the whole day ahead of you, with no work obligations, and the freedom to express your thoughts.  Writing is happiness, as is gardening.  No one knows who I am when I write.  No one tells me what to do in my garden.  Leads me to wonder how much of our time do we spend, being who we actually are and doing what our hearts wish.  As a child of the 50’s, I was raised to be polite and obedient, not to be pushy or aggressive, not to expect too much, not to talk back, not to be too visible.  I dont remember ever being told what I should be, other than ‘good’.  My mother was brought up on a mantra of ‘children should be seen and not heard’, and to some extent passed that onto her children.  I have not deliberately done this with mine but wonder to what extent, subconsciously or otherwise, I have passed my upbringing onto them?

When I was young and dating, I presented a very acceptable form of me to my dates.  It all fell apart when I started being the real me and not the very compliant me.  I was then crushed.  On reflection, I was being dishonest and this led to problems at work, as the me I was presenting was oceans apart from the real me.  I spent a lot of time smiling and nodding and not ‘talking back’ whilst under the surface was a frothing rage of emotions and frustration.  Passive aggressive, that was me.

In my experience, men dont fall for this ‘being not themselves’ thing.  They are what they are and they keep looking for someone who fits with them and when they think they have the right person, then they form a long term relationship.  OH and I have now been together nearly thirty years and got married relatively early in our relationship.  We must have spent a good 18 months knocking the edges of one another until we achieved a compromise which worked for both of us.  

He had the surprise that I was not the always sunny character I promoted during our courtship (especially when it came to the question of having bridesmaids foisted on me by his mother) and I discovered he expected me to replace his mother.  I expected him to do repairs and home decoration.  He expected me to do all the housework, shopping and cooking and why didnt I know how to darn socks or turn a shirt collar (I am not joking here). We had gone into marriage with a lot of expectations which should have been discussed before we got to arguing about them.  I had lived in a neat and clean environment all of my life and like an ordered home.  OH had spent 27 years throwing things about and his mother had picked them up.  The first 18 months of living together were a baptism of fire where we both established limits and who would do what.  My mother in law was very distressed at my lack of cooking skills (at uni I had only been allowed to do the washing up in our communal kitchen) which consisted of lentil lasagna and curry.  I also did not wash windows (along with many other things).  I remember coming home from work and it was raining (in Preston in rains virtually every day of the year) and my mother in law was up a ladder, in an anorak, and cleaning the big plate glass windows.  I invited her in for a cup of tea and heart attack when she saw the state of the place.

After nearly 30 years, OH is a lot tidier because if he doesnt put stuff away, then I do and often dont remember what I have done with it.  He does a lot of the cooking and is much more interested in the activity than I am.  I still do most of the housework.  We have grown together and got around the tough bits.  And that is what marriage is about.

Feel free to comment.  If you are out there.   If you are listening….
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