Our 9 year wedding Anniverary began at 6.45am with a hot, steamy, loud, emotion-fuelled debate on the topic of whether or not it's worthwhile buying organic vegetables. I - the one who's passionate about health and the environment - said yes. My husband - who naturally errs towards caring more about finances and needs solid evidence before making any change in behaviour - said no. Vehemently. For about 30 minutes, even waking up my sister in the opposite room. Welcome to our relationship.
We are not soulmates, or 'best friends' or a 'match made in heaven' like other couples rave about on social media when they hit another anniversary. I read those posts and feel genuine joy for those couples but then it can, if I'm not careful, leave me make me feel less satisfied with my own, tumultuous relationship. So I decided to write this honest account in case you're more like me.
My husband and I have been married 9 years this week, and we were dating for 9 years before that! That's a heck of a long time to be living with someone who is, in so many ways, your polar opposite.
He's messy, I'm tidy. He's extrovert, I'm introvert. He's 'rational', I lead from my heart. He's a carnivore, I'm vegetarian. He dances to 80's cheese, I reminisce over 90's Britpop.
And yet, somehow - in spite of the bickering and the constant trying to make eachother bend to our will - it works!
Those Disney fairy tales never came true. I didn't get 'rescued' by a Prince. Instead I met someone who has kept me growing and learning, about myself and humanity, to this day. Maybe the fairy tales aren't meant to come true.
We have been through much hardship - the worst of which was losing our firstborn son, Alexander. And we've been through much wonder - travelling the world together, jumping out of an aeroplane and off cliffs; diving the oceans of the world.
We vote for the same political party (thankfully) but disagree on policy. We both want to save the world, but in different ways. And that is OK! What i'm learning is, you don't have to agree on everything all of the time. In our case, we rarely agree on anything, any of the time. And that is OK.
We show our love in such different ways but we - like everyone - just want to love and be loved.
Then ... and now.
Our 9 year anniversary in lockdown involved a 7 mile bike ride
followed by a bottle of bubbly New Zealand Sauvignon and the final episodes of Dead to Me!
I'm just sharing all of this in case, like me, you're in a relationship with someone who annoys the heck out of you on a daily basis and yet you love anyway, even when you sometimes question that love. I'm letting you know, you're not alone. Life isn't meant to be easy. You're here to grow and learn. Fall in love with THAT.
So here's what I do when my husband feels like a complete stranger to me. I focus on the good. When I've calmed down from the latest point of contention, I take a moment to remember all the ways that we are similar. The fact that we both love Sci Fi movies and Rom Coms. Our shared love for crisp cotton sheets. The fact that we fell in love because of all we have in common like training in martial arts and listening to Ella Fitzgerald. A desire to travel and adventure. A need to help others, albeit in very different ways.
So next time he's driving you up the wall, give that a go.
Wishing you Health and Happiness,
Even when that is challenging,
PS and here is my FAVOURITE relationship resource for those times when you're questioning and doubting. Have a really good look around their website and sign up to their Marriage Minute newsletter.
PPS I want to ackonledge that some relationships are antagonistic because they are unhealthy - there is a power imbalance. I never feel like I can't express myself out of fear of my husband's reaction, or hide things from him to keep the peace (well, apart from when I buy organic veg). If you feel anxious around your partner or if you suspect things aren't as they should, take this quick test to understand your relationship more.