What a weekend it’s been. The truth is, my husband and I have been having a bit of a rough time lately. With each other. I won’t get into the details of it but if I had to look for a reason, I could say there have been a few things that have happened in the last couple of months that have led us here, but in actual fact these things are really just symptomatic of deeper underlying issues between us which seem to surface every so often.
One of the struggles I’ve been having is with my role. My role as ‘the wife’ and ‘mother’. The one who does the shopping, takes care of the household, cooks supper every night, thinks about everything, knows where everything is, gets asked a million questions a day, initiates most things. You know that one? You recognise that one? You see, I’ve never been someone who always dreamt of being a wife. I never dreamt of getting married. I was always quite scared of it actually. Coming from divorced parents can have that affect on you. Growing up, I remember very clearly being quite proud of my feministic ideals, my stating that I would never need a man to do this or that. I could do it all on my own. I was never very sentimental or cheesy about love and managed to keep men at a comfortable distance. Never allowing them to get too close to my heart. I had lots of admirers but I only really fell for one or two boys…both of them breaking my heart. My first heart break though, although I don’t remember it, I believe came from my dad leaving when I was young. Just under 2 years old. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over that. And to protect myself from getting hurt, I’ve built up walls. Great big solid walls which protect me from getting hurt. Protect me from getting rejected. Feeling abandoned. But also block me from feeling love, loved and from loving.
When I met my husband though, he broke down these walls. It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always comfortable but love will do that to you. He had the patience and tenderness to help me unload that wall brick by brick, stone by stone and he opened me up in a way I had never experienced before. This is love right?
So, 14 years later and we find ourselves at this point in our lives where after little disappointments, hurts, upsets, just life doing its thing really, and I feel how that wall has built itself up again. Even with my husband. Especially with my husband. I have become critical, negative, irritable, all those stereotypical ‘wife‘ characteristics you just don’t want to be. I am doing them. I am being ‘that wife’. Why? A number of reasons but one of them, I think, being because we haven’t clearly defined our roles. We’ve just assumed them without actually having chosen them. We’ve bumbled our way through this thing called marriage without consciously deciding how we’re going to do it. The truth is, I’m grateful that I can fetch my kids from school, be here to cook them supper, look after my family. But when it becomes an expectation, when it becomes taken for granted that it’s just what I do, what I’ll keep on doing, that’s when I have a problem with it. That’s when the feminist in me, the (dis)empowered woman cries out in frustration of ‘what am I doing here?! Who is this person? Who am I? How did I get here?’ And that’s when the proverbial shit hits the fan. When my claws come out. When I become distant, closed. Because when I feel unheard, taken for granted, that I haven’t made a conscious choice, I feel hurt and rejected. And up goes that wall. To protect me. And when my wall is up, there is no space for love, for tenderness, for intimacy. It can not close and open at will. When it’s up, it’s up.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband does a lot. He is very hands on. He is supportive and loving. He is wonderful. But he is flawed. As am I. We are two flawed people trying to figure out our roles, our way, ourselves. In this thing called marriage. But this time, our ending to the weekend was a happy one. And although my husband can piss me off, can sometimes make me want to run a mile (because that’s just how I am), can make me feel sad, he is the best damn thing that’s ever happened to me. He is good for me . He is my teacher, my mirror, my best friend, my lover, my fighter.
After our very dismal weekend together of mostly arguing and not really talking much, we took some space from each other. We reflected. We spoke. And then, thanks to my husband’s idea, we did something we spoke about doing 2 years ago. We ‘re’ contracted our marriage. We told each other what we wanted from our marriage. What we need from our marriage. What our ideal marriage looks like. For each of us. We listened to each other. We spoke to each other. We heard each other. And my wall came down again. Well, parts of it did…this is a process after all.
This is not the end of our story. It is not the beginning either. It is our continuing narrative of our life, a life shared by two flawed, imperfect, ever changing people who love each other. And are committed to making this work.