Friday, 9 November 2012

Just a Piece of Paper

Right folks, i've had half a blog post floating around in my head for some days now and I need to dislodge it from my brain to allow for other critically important things, like sorting out the shopping and organising my chaotic work travel for the rest of this month (London 3 times, Hatfield and various other visits before December!).

Basically Stu (my usually calm, lovely and unflappable husband) had a major hissy fit the other week over a breakfast bowl which I had left in the sink all day, creating a new and possibly industrial strength concrete in the bottom of it. This is because I hate milk and therefore will not eat the small amount left in the bottom of my cereal bowl and also am an incredibly messy person who is just pretty slovenly about washing up (it's true. I fucking hate washing up).

Now, to be fair, he has previously chastised me around 3 million times about doing this exact thing, he has a real bee in his bonnet about it so I should know better and most of the time I do remember how much this act winds him up and just rinse the bowl (well actually I fill the bowl with hot water and washing up liquid and leave it til I get in from work and then just rinse it out quickly - this involves no scrubbing and therefore is not actually washing up - win win).

But sometimes I get distracted (actually getting distracted is one of my worst habits, in relation to EVERYTHING) by Eddie Izzard being on BBC Breakfast or the fact that my iPhone needs IOS 6.1.4 downloading or an absolutely overwhelming urge to dig out a pair of boots I have not worn for years and then find an outfit that goes with them....and this all tends to happen in the ten minute window where I should be getting ready to go out the door and setting the dratted breakfast bowl to soak....

I should probably explain that I am the most hideous example of human kind before at least 9am. You know I said I fucking hate washing up?? Well I hate mornings more. (hence doing washing up or anything pertaining to it prior to 9am is literally unthinkable).

Anyway, on said morning the other week I didn't wash the bowl - on this particular occasion it just clean slipped my mind (I think I was distracted by packaging 10 different items I had sold on ebay towards Project Oz, in my defence) and also, because I kindly gave Stu a lift home from work (unusual as we rarely finish at the same time) we arrived home together and therefore my usual grace period to get rid of the evidence disappeared.

He did indeed get very narky about it and said it was disrespectful and he is of course right. And it got me to thinking.

Marriages work because it's more than "just a piece of paper". That old chestnut which is thrown out by people who live together and are not married and feel the need to defend why. And for once I am writing on a subject where I actually have a wealth of experience, having been married for 9 years and having nursed that marriage back from the brink. Would we have just walked away if that inconsequential piece of paper didnt exist? Probably we would have, because it would have been easy at the time. But because we had made a real, formal, legal commitment we didn't give up on it, and boy am I glad we didn't.

That piece of paper is what should be the framework for the give and take a marriage requires. It doesn't always work of course but if you respect it then it should.

What I mean is this....

Things I do that drive my husband up the wall:

Not washing the breakfast bowl
Losing things. All the fucking time and sometimes with startling rapidity.
Being generally clumsy and sustaining injuries/ the associated trips to A&E
Get incredibly drunk from time to time and then lose a day whimpering
Use the washing machine at random times
Use every single implement we own in the completion of one recipe (which he then washes)
Forget to turn the heating down/off.
Lose my temper over silly things. And I mean really sodding lose it.

Things I do that make up for it:

All the food shopping and 90% of the cooking, cos I know he hates it.
Cater for him being pescatarian and me hating fish.
Remember Birthdays, buy cards etc for said birthdays.
Wrap all his presents for him, cos I know he hates it.
Always save the baking bowls for him (raw cake mix!? get in!).
I am the magical toiletries fairy that keeps him in a never ending supply of deoderant, mouthwash etc.
Collect him mid run/post run/post football from wherever/whenever.
Make his lunch for work each night.
Attempt to sew buttons back on to things.
Iron things occasionally.
Organise our social lives.

Things that my husband does that do my head in:

Cannot make a snack without leaving crumbs everywhere.
Gets up at stupid o'clock even on a weekend hence waking me up
Seems to get out of the shower before switching it off, hence drenching entire ensuite every time.
Is evangelical about the bloody laundry. Set times for certain washes (I wish I was joking)
Eats things I have saved for something specific without me realising until halfway through a recipe.
Cuts toenails in the living room.
Tidies things away while I am still using/eating them. Frequently tips away half a mug of tea I have not finished.
Leaves assorted litter under the passenger seat of my car.

Things that my husband does that make up for it:

Makes me tea most mornings, unprompted.
All the hoovering.
Most of the washing (at specific times as mentioned above)
Washes up. Continuously.
Books wonderful things off his own back for us to see/do - is v thoughtful.
Lets me have the last glass of wine in the bottle.
Lets me lose my temper and then talks me down off the ceiling.
Puts things into perspective amazingly well.
Copes with my uttely bonkers family without running for the hills.

And so, you see, as long as you remember that there are equal and opposite things that you both do and both bring to the table then it works.

I do reckon though that being married, rather than just co-habiting, adds a level of public and private commitment to a relationship which is more than just a piece of paper. This is why ANYONE should be allowed to marry their partner and I am a staunch supporter of gay marriage being as legally binding and officially recognised as marriage between a man and a woman - because (unless you are a god fanatic, in which case I have other beefs with you anyway) it's not about the tradition its about the respect you have for each other as human beings and that despite the fact you know you will do each others swedes in for a proportion of the time (unavoidable) you will balance it out by being half of a pretty solid team.