Talking of love yesterday made me reflect on the type of love I have with my Mr and why it is the perfect love for me/us.
Very early on when we were dating we had a discussion and decided that while we felt we could marry each other we probably needed a longer dating period to confirm this decision. So each year since then, we would discuss whether we were both committed to continuing with each other. Even now on our anniversary dinner, we still ask each other this question as well as reflecting on the past year and dreams for the next.
More than this though was the fact that very early on, he was very clear in his intentions but he also went out of his way to accompany his words with actions. And this meant so much to me especially given the last two people I had liked who couldn’t be bothered with decency. So, our love is thoughtful, not about fireworks but stability – which I have learnt is a value that means so much to me – but it is true to both our characters.
This being Day 8902 of lockdown (not really, it’s Day 54 here) and working remotely as we take care of the 14-month old. I wanted to share the one thing I have learnt about my Mr and new work mate:
He is really passionate about his work. He is genial and well liked and regarded by his workmates. They really respect him too. He is also very serious when at work. Less positively, he hates to do any kind of project admin. Oh and his day involves being in so many meetings / calls.
It’s been interesting to see this side of him as the last time we worked so closely together was back at Varsity.
What have you learnt about yourself or your partner / housemate(s) as you worked from home? If you and your partner regularly work from home, what have you learnt from each other at this time?
In person, these feelings and reflections on the past year are mostly joyful but definitely extremely emotional. I cannot put into words what this year has been like but I would like to try.
Motherhood takes a village. You can do it alone but it is so much better when shared with people you love and trust and with whom you can point your children towards. A pal of mine shared with me that you need four or five people that you trust enough to say to your kid if you cannot talk to me about anything, you can speak to ….. I definitely have those people, both in family and friends.
Pregnancy takes a toll on you the mother and it takes a while for your body to adjust, both physically, emotionally, hormonally and just. Be patient with yourself also, don’t stress too much about your looks.
A baby’s personality develops at birth, observe and work with that.
A friend told me about a mothers’ instinct at my baby shower and I was doubtful. It is true that it does kick in and that I am the best person equipped to be her mother. No one can be a better mom than me.
The dynamics of your relationship shift significantly. Talk about it, review where you both are/ how you are feeling and to discuss. Little people can otherwise impose a lot of pressure on your relationship.
Having a baby helped me refine how much I love people. I also finally understood how much my mom loves me. If she loves me even a little of what I feel for her then I am loved. I also know what it means when I miss someone because I sometimes miss her so much my heart and body actually aches. How does my mom cope?
I learnt that I can be efficient with my time. I commit better to things immediately. I can function with little to no sleep.
In this case, my partner. What do I love most about him? There are so many things, but I had to list the top three:
His devotion to family. I don’t think we would work so well if we did not have this in common or if we were not assured of the others commitment to their family and therefore each other.
His ambition and work ethic. Outside of myself and my female friends, he is easily the most driven and hard working person that I know. I suspect that he even works harder than me, always gives 150% of himself, always, every day.
His ability to chill. He is the perfect epitome of work hard and play hard. And to be honest, I need that because even when we go on holiday, I usually have 10,000 things planned and he is OK to do only one thing a day.
Lastly, I know said three, but this must be said, his relationship with money. His aversion for credit, his desire to save, his eye on the long-term. All of this and more.
What do you love most about your significant other?
So when the Mr and I have a misunderstanding and it looks like it might hit the proverbial fan., the party that does not feel as strongly does not escalate it. How?
Recently, we were traveling, I had mapped out the route and knew what station we needed to get off at to board the connecting train when the Mr decides to change the route halfway. So we get off and the map shows we need to walk five streets to catch the train and I lost my gasket. I was so pissed off, 1) we were running late for a flight, 2) where were you when I was staying up the whole night to get the route? To give him credit though, he just kept on the task at hand and did not engage with my anger or my threats to get us a route ASAP.
This works for us and it is not prescriptive but it saves us from saying what we might later regret or descending into a shouting fit with each other.
If someone needs time to cool off, to think or process, we allow it and the other does not pressure them to discuss it at that time. However much time you need to, take it. Often we continue to engage on other matters as normal and either you don’t feel as strongly later or you have had the room to process why you felt so strongly or couldn’t engage.
I know they say not to do this, but it’s OK to sleep angry every so often. Sometimes it’s safer and better that way. Of course this can lead to silent treatment which is not great but eventually gets resolved.
No name-calling. EVER.
What rules do you and your significant live by when it comes to conflict resolution?
I know I am not owed love. I also wonder sometimes if I don’t know what love actually feels like, since so many grown men have told me it’s been missing from our relationships. (One came back a year later and said, “Oh wow, I did not realize that I loved you when we dated, I am so sorry.”)
In response I would say that our love is secure and I know that I am loved for who I am and in all different versions of myself, the best and the not so great.
Today marks our third-year anniversary and I am not sure what it is about marriage that makes each year feel tougher and harder than the previous one yet the returns are just as fulfilling. I love being married and I love my husband and even after all these years together (nine this year) I am still remarkably happy that we are together. He is certainly my person.
What have I learnt so far?
Communication, yes, it’s great and truly the key. Half of communication however is being mindful of how you deliver the message. It is possible through how and when you say something to break the other person or get a response that you were not prepared for. True Story.
Regarding in-laws, that can be managed. There is a happy coexistence that you can attain. A fine line between respect for them and firm boundaries for your relationship. Also, one of the ladies that spoke to me before I got married reminded me that I can never be the best daughter in law and so I should not work on that but focus on being respectful.
Marriage is better when you have a crowd with whom you experience it together. This calls to mind mentors, other happily married couples of all ages and even people that are dating and hoping to also settle down. Being surrounded by happy couples in different seasons of life keeps you connected and encouraged to strive more within your marriage.
The move to the Mother City was also beneficial because it helped us build a firm foundation for this new phase of our relationship and to help the “crowd” around us begin to see us as a unit and to respect that.
Though we had known each other since our early twenties, we only got married in our late twenties and in the last three years we have spent a lot of time integrating our single lives into our new entity. In true us style, this has involved a lot of “business” meetings to plan, dream, forecast and review our future plan. Although we are closer now than when we started we are still not done. Urggh.
My husband is my best male friend and probably someone outside of my family that knows me best BUT having said that, I still believe it is important to keep other friendships going strong in your lives and to continue to meet new people and maintain old friendships. This is important because of the “crowd” I spoke of earlier but also the fact that when we interact with other people it draws out another side of you and also allows you to miss your partner that you look forward to seeing them.
Having said all the above, it is a fact that marriage is work. You only reap what you put in. Also, that both of you must work on it or the other party eventually gets worn out and might lash out. Each year has brought us something additional to work through / focus on and that has been interesting and kept us both connected.
What will I work on this year?
Firstly, on the words I use. I know that as a wife, I can either build him up / tear him down and I have to be very careful not to do the latter. Secondly, in the Love Dare the authors speak of guarding one self against spending time in your mate’s depreciation room. This is basically the place where we keep stock of all of his bad traits and all those things you do not like about him. I also have a depreciation room that he could dwell on but that won’t take us anywhere if we both fixate on it. Lastly, to work on making more couple friends and hanging out with those we currently have.
In closing, one piece of advice we received that I always remember is that marriage is what you make of it. Just as no two marriages are the same, you can get out of yours the things that you want and that works for the two of you despite what other people out there might feel/ have to say.
All of this week I am thinking a lot about relationships and one long-term one that I have is with my dreadlocks.
After seven and a half years, I really really still love my hair. It is now waist-length and just as exciting as when it was first locked. After all these years, I still get excited at having my hair washed, twisted and then styled. Before that I delight myself by looking at pictures online and choosing an appropriate style and then looking forward to the big reveal at the salon. When I see someone with dreadlocks that either have a style I would like, that are dyed beautifully, longer and sometimes even shorter than mine but just look so good, I get the worst dread envy.
And all of the above is how I know that I made the best move and I still don’t regret it. Nah, nope, I am still good. CONFESSION: Come Summer, I do want to trim them slightly shorter, just an itsy bitsy bit.
In the meantime, below are some styles I am looking forward to in the next couple of months.
For a wedding or special date night
I love the braid at the front, it elevates an otherwise boring style
I love the take on the traditional morehawk – but a part of me keeps thinking of the weight on your head.
This morning the Mr and I had a little fight. I had to take my car for a service – something that in my horror, totally feels like a dentist’s visit what with the information asymmetry, pain (actual and to the wallet) and the fact that there is a specialist whom you trust but then again, information asymmetry. At the root of the fight though is that ugly word: Expectations.
Any one about to be married, or married for a day and an hour will long have heard the mantra that expectations kill a marriage and that the counter is communicate, communicate, communicate. Our little fight had me reassessing all the different expectations that I had regarding marriage and an assessment of all other expectations I have held since our marriage started.
I expected a partner that would take charge of cars and who would directly engage with mechanics and basically inform me when I needed to do any car-related changes.
Ergo, any fixing of stuff around the house. I would highlight any issues and he would oversee to the fixing – whether directly or outsourced, I am ambivalent. To be honest, a lot of the technical stuff I was happy to delegate away.
All newly weds are told that they need to set time for date night or else … Consequently, I too came into marriage with this (fear-driven) expectation and very early on we both figured out that given the pace of our lives it would be infeasible to designate a specific evening to always hang out. Having said that, when one of us is hectic, there is no expectation to do stuff but when things simmer down, we often hang out.
My family has a habit of starting to plan for Christmas from as early as August/September. His family? Not so much. Initially this made me feel slightly helpless. Besides the family tradition, my personality is such that, you can never be too prepared OR start preparing too early. What we now try and do to incorporate both our idiosyncrasies is to have a lose discussion in September and refine it in the following months. This is certainly imperfect (according to me) but it definitely helps somewhat.
I thought that I would hate meal planning. Turns out, I love it.
Sometimes as wives we expect that our husbands will become our best (female) buddy. That’s not the case and surely it’s not the reason that we fell in love to begin with. So keep your buddies and work on building a friendship with your husband too.
Before the wedding I had heard of brides that often felt a bit sad after the wedding because things had gone back to “normal”. Did I feel the same way? Emphatically, NO!! After the energy and time spent planning the wedding, I was only too happy to settle for normal.
I must say these lessons are over and above learning how selfish I am, how much space and time alone I require. All of that. Marriage is certainly not the penultimate goal, neither is it my most defining relationship but I must say I have learnt a lot and it has been very fulfilling for me.
One of the things that I thought would happen with marriage is that we would automatically become part of a group of other couples and we would often hang out and as the babies came, they would all grow up together. Why is this important for me? Well, I believe that as a couple, it is important to have a community that you can learn from and you can be open with. Not the entire world but some people that hold you both accountable and keep you both encouraged in this game of marriage.
Two years later, I can’t really say this has been the case.
If I think about our friendship cycle, we have either had that one couple that always invites us over to theirs and that we have occasionally hosted or the ones we always invite to ours/ out to dinner but upon our initiation and not theirs. Very binary. We are both really puzzled as to how other couples go about befriending other couples. Where are the best kinds of places/activities to meet and interact? In the past, we have invited people for dinner or lunch but it has tended to revolve around food. Another possible place is church but our local church has less than 40 people (clergy included) and is very old. Where else?
Who would our ideal couple be? This has been the toughest bit in truth. As we have no kids this rules out the flexibility of having another couple with one or two kids in tow to pop by at random. With single people, we have observed that they sometimes project third wheel vybes when we hang together. Which means that we either chill with our single pals separately or host few people sporadically. Our ideal couple would be similar in age, committed to being married and fairly authentic – separately and jointly as a couple.
So, have you got a couple pal? How did you meet and what is the benefit to you to dating/being married and having a crowd of witnesses?