Writing about your own relationship can go two ways – a spin into an extraordinary fairy tale of love, romance and lies or introspection on what you want your relationship to be. The piece below is neither. Its just notes on how we keep the bogies in a row and our train on the tracks.
It would be clichéd to say that no honest relationship is perfect and so I want to say that no honest relationship should be perfect. It must have its flaws with good days and bad days. So what is a bad day in a relationship? Do you really just step out of bed and decide today is the day things will be out of whack? Yes, but equally it could be just after that wake up stretch, when you step into the bathroom and the toothpaste is kept on the wrong side of the sink.
My biggest annoyance was being told I am a lazy contributor to things around the house. Before I was married, I was always considered the organised one, the person who got things done. When love and togetherness arrived I felt there was little I could get right. The tempering of the dal was not right, the fridge was not set right and the dishwasher must still have a symmetrical setting I can never perfect. Getting the sync right on the small things is what makes marriages work, and we were clearly never at the same station in the early years. After many years figuring what our roles really are in this relationship, I think we have found some balance. My husband is now the doer -so electricity bills, rent, pension and investments and setting the fridge are his area of expertise. This makes him feel in control of his excel spread-sheet on life and makes me feel like I am contributing to him feeling that way! After many arguments and reluctant apologies over various matters the “tadka” in my dal now gets hoots of approval. We have learnt to step away from the fire as opposed to heading for an explosion that would end in an exhausted relationship, and who wants that.
My kids think I am the boss in the house. I feel I am the boss of the house because I am listener-in-chief! There are many decisions I make around the house and how it’s run but so that the train runs smoothly I listen to everyone, sometimes with a lot less patience than I should. I acknowledge that my short fuse can cause much distress within the unit. The reason my unit runs reasonably well is that when I lose the plot, my husband steps in to salvage the situation. Being the only woman in the house does help as well because when I turn on the charm and affection, I am forgiven for my idiosyncrasies more often than not. Our flawed relationship is perfect because we show each other the worst we can be.
A marriage can last longer if you count to 10 before saying something nasty. Once it’s shot out of your mouth its done irreparable damage. You can never, and I really mean never, take it back. Being the daughter of a seasoned diplomat I must say I took great pride in telling my husband this. What a person says in the name of honesty can both damage and hurt someone. This well-intentioned honesty needs both control and restraint. In 16 years of marriage, we have finally found the balance in hurt, honesty and humour and the train is still on the tracks.
– The Railway Woman