Archive for the Year of 52 Category

1/52 – Marriage

Posted in Family, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Year of 52 with tags , on January 7, 2018 by Neal

On January 3rd 1998, this incredible woman said “I do”.

For some, being married for 2 years is considered a milestone of epic proportions, especially given the current divorce rates of the world. Being married for 20 years can be seen by some as freaky, unnatural and amazing.

It’s cliche I know but Mandy and I have known each other since high school. Our final senior year she set her sights on me and for the first 6 months of the year I was totally oblivious to her many attempts and hints at catching my eye. Yes I was a little slow on the uptake but that’s just who I was at the time. When I surprised her on her birthday with jewellery and flowers I think she was relieved that I finally got the right idea. I’m not going to say everything was perfect from the first day. Being an introvert I kept a lot of my thoughts to myself and that caused various conversations of raised voices and tears from both sides in the beginning. Not to mention the typical ridicule and torment that comes from teenage friends as well.

Recently one of the young ladies I work with asked me for advise on relationships. She’s having issues with her partner and since I’ve got a successful marriage, what was my secret…. Gee talk about putting someone on the spot. It got me thinking and lost at the same time. After all we have had enough ups and downs in our marriage to create the world’s most extreme roller coaster. The only real advise I could give her was that being in a relationship is a seesaw of give and take. Sometimes you will be the one leading and making all the decisions, other times you will be the follower and just doing what you have to keep the peace.

The two of us have been far from typical in our relationship. We’ve fought about family, finances, children, friends, pets, possessions, professions and holidays. Given each other gifts and surprises ranging from large to small. After all I did buy her a Ferrari for her 20th birthday, she just never specified what size she wanted. There have been some downs thrown at us by the world that have stretched our commitment together but we worked out ways around the problem and grew from the experience.

Many, many years ago during one of our seemingly all too frequent discussions, Mandy gave a response to something I said that took years for me to understand. This was during an extremely low point in our marriage and things could have swung either way from that point on. I had commented how I felt taken for granted and that she didn’t need me at all in her life. Her response “You’re right I don’t need you in my life. I can look after myself. I can handle the finances. I can care of the kids. I can do what ever I want so I don’t need you in my life. What I do want is for you to be a part of my life.” Now keep in mind, for some guys we don’t see a distinct difference in certain words, they tend to have the same definitions. So you can imagine how hurt I felt at the time being told I wasn’t needed in her life. It took me many months of self discussion and reflection to finally realise what she had meant. We don’t need each other in our lives. A need implies that something is required for each of us to live. Sure we need food to live but not hugs or kisses. We need a house to keep us warm in winter but not hugs or snuggles. We need to breathe but don’t require words of adoration to keep living. My view of needing Mandy in my life wasn’t accurate as I could still live without her. I wanted her in my life which had more meaning to it than needing her.

Writing this I can’t help but think of all the cliches that people tend to write about their partner. They go on in flowery prose about how amazing that person is and that they are the embodiment of perfection. Seriously some stuff is so sweet it would cause you to gain 50 kilos and diabetes from reading it. How many times has someone complained about their partner’s negative qualities? Could you imagine the Hallmark share price if they changed their cards to using the truth instead of flattery?

This has morphed into something totally not what I had in mind. I was going to use a heap of comparisons and examples about our life together. Instead I’ll leave everyone with this bit of personal wisdom that may make a bit of sense to some.

A successful marriage is based on wants and not needs. You marry someone you want to spend your life with, you do things together because you want to support the other and help them succeed, you want them in your life to bring joy and laughter to it but also work through each other’s problems to become better.

Mandy, it has been a long road with lots of holes and detours so far but I’m sure that the longer we travel together the easier it will be for us to find smoother paths in our journey.

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