We have come up on eleven months now. Just shy of a year. And whilst next month might seem the more logical time to reflect on what we have learned so far, I thought I might just start attacking that this month. Or at least pass on to you a couple of things that I have learned. And by learned, I don’t mean to claim that I am now in any way proficient in the art of either anticipating what you want from me or communicating my thoughts and ideas without right royally pissing you off ever again, but at least I’m a little quicker on the uptake. Sort of.
So if I was to ruminate over lessons learned and perhaps even formulate some words of wisdom for any other matrimonially minded female unfamiliar to the many
pitfalls delights of marriage, I might say this:
Don’t criticize your husbands driving. Either blatantly or subtly. If your husband likes to get up nice and close behind people he thinks are going too damn slow, do not point out that your car is not gay and should therefore not be right up…well, you get the picture. If your husband ever cuts people off because they technically had room to move out of his way, once your heart has started again, just let it go. No one likes a back seat driver. If your husband swears till he’s blue in the face to the effect that the driver in front of him is a complete and utter moron who must have gotten his licence from the back of a cornflakes packet not least because he doesn’t know how to change lanes whilst using an indicator at the same time and then your husband proceeds to commit even one of the offences he has just admonished himself…don’t say a word! And while you’re not saying anything, banish the word hypocrite from your vocabulary lest it come out at an inappropriate moment. Or rather a completely appropriate but somewhat unfortunate moment…
I would also point out here that it doesn’t go down particularly well if you ever admit that you had your eyes closed while he was driving cause you found it slightly less stressful at the time. Yes, that could put you in a bit of a predicament because unless you are quicker on your
feet backside than I, your options are either A) to grin and bear it (without looking like you are trying to sympathy brake on the passenger side of the car) or B) get into a cyclical argument about aggressive driving vs driving aggressively. Neither of which are much fun. Trust me, I’ve been there. And another word to the wise on co-commuting anywhere, if you are the type of person that reacts to perceived alternative driving habits by climbing up the walls of the car, grabbing the handle thingy on the ceiling and bracing yourself for impact, don’t. That handle thingy is only meant for dry cleaning. Now I don’t actually do this myself but whilst I was on the subject of passenger etiquette I thought I’d throw the advice in for good measure. I happen to know that this habit drives my dad up the wall. If you wanted to avoid the hassles associated with being your partner’s passenger however, you could always just do all the driving yourself (unless that would be an issue all on its own). You could also just add an additional passenger into the car as well. This also seems to work.
Another lesson that I have learned dear husband throughout our magical time together is men don’t get lost. There is apparently some part of your DNA that makes it genetically impossible for you to ever be lost. Except if you’re an English backpacker in the Australian bush of course. But maybe that wasn’t lost so much as stupid. Anyway, since men are like waffles and women are like spaghetti (or was that because men are from Mars and women are from Venus), men simply don’t get lost. If you happen to be in the situation where you can’t precisely pinpoint where you are, you couldn’t say exactly how to get where you want to be or you’re not actually sure what amount of time you might need to finally get where you are going – so not lost! Geographically challenged maybe. Positionally perplexed definitely. Bearingswise befuddled probably. Even directionally disoriented or regionally confounded are a possibility, but lost? Never. Which women would be wise to remember. Right along with the understanding that men don’t listen and women can’t read road maps so it wouldn’t matter if you tried to tell them they were lost and then attempted to prove it to them anyway.
But when it comes to communication, it is a skill worth mastering to be completely, utterly and explicitly specific when you ask, say, tell or advise your husband anything. If you’re going to see an old friend and ask your husband to get together the wedding photos before you walk out the door so you can show them off, don’t assume that he understands that you mean the wedding photos collectively rather than a couple of photos plural. Assume he doesn’t know whether you’re talking about jpegs, proofs or a wedding album. Assume he might think that you actually want to show off as few images as possible. Or perhaps that he doesn’t want to be asked to put any effort into finding something even if he was the one who probably tidied it away in the first place. Assume he doesn’t know that if you specifically wanted just the wedding album that you would have expressly asked for, wait for it, “the wedding album”…Also, be explicit whenever you mention that you want to shop for anything at all from kitchen utensils to a personal laptop. What do you want it to do? How will you use it? What is the most important thing for you? How long do you want it to last? What are you prepared to pay…? Don’t “like the look of something” or “be happy with something like…”, have real conviction and be prepared to write a dissertation on the topic or answer 20 questions. Don’t enter into conversations in which you cannot fully engage. Its just frustrating for the other person involved!
And above all, when you are being explicitly specific, make sure that you are actually understood by your husband. Watch out for those times when for some strange reason, what comes out of your mouth is “do you want some help” and what gets heard is something like “I can think of many things I’d much rather do than offer you any assistance whatsoever but I feel guilty watching you so this is a pity offer that I really hope you’ll decline”. Those times when apparently a seemingly innocuous question is not deemed appropriate at all and instead, you should have really just taken over like a bossy boots with an “I’ll do this” or a “let me do that”…Apparently… To be honest, I still don’t quite understand that one and I’ll probably never get it but there you go. I’m sure there is a valuable lesson in there somewhere…
The other thing that I have learned however, which has been a much more recent lesson, and a much more personal one I might add, is that I am not invincible. Who’d have thought? It recently was brought home to me that sometimes I find it hard not to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Or maybe not the world precisely cause I’m really not that selfless a person but I have definitely felt like I’ve been trying to hold on to something recently over which I have absolutely no control. You have told me on several occasions that you are the pessimistic one but it seems that over the past month, I have been the one holding my breath and waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the first time in years, you are actually enjoying your job and genuinely liking where you work. You have not ended up back in hospital and one might be forgiven for thinking that we are actually getting back on our feet. Things have been great all things considered but every time you have a sore neck or back, whenever you come out of work swearing in frustration (because in a company that big you can’t really avoid coming into contact with people you don’t particularly like) or if you just seem not to be coping with the day, its like I go on high alert.
It is in the back of my mind constantly that this could be the catalyst that brings on yet another “challenge”. Things take on far more significance than they should and I want to try and “fix” everything to avoid the next hit. I feel like I have to compensate somehow to make sure we keep on an even keel and not capsize as we sail through choppy waters. Like I have to not ask you for help or not upset you at all. I try to control the state of things which definitely isn’t helpful, mostly because it doesn’t even work. Despite generally being content and (I thought) quietly optimistic because things are good, I don’t think I’ve really trusted you to be well or actually believed that things are going to be ok. I’ve been wanting you to live up to expectations that I can’t even define, or maybe that was scared that you might live up to an expectation that I don’t want to define and that in itself has been taking its toll. It makes me tired and it certainly hasn’t been fair on you. I must say though that you dealt with my mini meltdown admirably.
But I am hoping that this little hiccup was just that however, a hiccup, and now we will move forward with me as the gracious (and reasonably sane) wife that you married and you as the charming (and somewhat enigmatic) man that I married. Sounds like a plan to me.
Your Loving Wife