Friday, June 24, 2011

friday forte: rhymes with 'horse and carriage'

celebration of light, Vancouver

The exact date is a little hazy, but around 20 years ago I met mr ebb (author's note: he's called mr ebb from my days on the etsy forums - ebbandflo was my user name, and spouses were usually referred to as mr/ms etsyusername). We were in our mid-twenties, semi-introduced by a mutual friend on an almost blind date. The rest, as they say, is history. Having just been through two gruelingly awful relationships and constantly reminded how difficult I was to live with, I was utterly gobsmacked that anyone would give me a second glance (I was a total catch). We 'dated', he moved in after six months, and we've been together ever since, getting a married a couple of years later. We pass our 18th wedding anniversary later this year, and have had our Wee Guy in tow for almost half the time.

Twenty years is quite a monogamous milestone of duration these days. My parents will be celebrating their own Golden Wedding anniversary this summer; I can still remember them hitting the twenty year mark, never thinking I might be doing similar. Wow!

So what does twenty years of domestic bliss look like these days? Well, we did the exotic holidays, the two-week ski trips, migrated southwards, bought a few houses, shared pets, and so on in the first decade, pre-child. We've done the high-living young exec thing in London too, read Sunday papers in bed till after noon. We've hiked the Lake District, chased cockroaches to kill the time on honeymoon (whee! what a wild time that was) and slept off the jet lag in a number of luxurious hotels around the world. We've monitored hair loss/white hairs, gravity and aging. We've grown into middle age with each other; familiar housemates comfortably getting older together as we potter around this house we share.

Over time we've grown used to living in the same space, accommodating habits, behaviours and quirks. For instance, I know that he's into family- rather than date-nights, so we have movie nights (complete with popcorn maker scored from the local thrift!) and save a bundle on babysitting. He's not really into festivities, romance or special occasions -  I get my ''fix" at the movies, call on friends, or take myself off to the ballet, etc. rather than drag him out after a hard day at the office when he'd rather be finishing some work or reading his Kindle/iPod quietly on the couch. He's not a going-out kind of guy so I'm lucky there are never any conflicting engagements on the calendar (except when he travels and then I do have some babysitting numbers I can call). Once in a while I might arrange an evening out for the two of us - I booked tickets for Eddie Izzard last year, and managed a trip to the movies the year before (unfortunately for us, once I've finished organising the Wee Guy's social/school life I have very little energy to carry on with the concierge service hence the lack of exciting nights out, sorry). The household admin and finances are tasks I've had to take on so I stay financially competent while unsalaried. Likewise house decor projects. On the plus side, no arguments about what colour the bathroom will be (FYI: it's still the same colour as when we moved in 5.5 years ago) and mercifully, I don't have to hide 'his' tools at the weekend, crying, "No more DIY!".

It's not all roses though; I'm what's known as a processor - I need to talk (and talk) through what's going on around me to make sense, remain connected. He's a more classic introvert who withdraws and prefers to ignore it/let it quietly disappear rather than hash it out in the open. It also means that he doesn't bring any issues to the table. I have had to reign in my natural instincts (not always successful) to hunt a problem into the ground. Yes, I'll admit this is a struggle for me to try to keep it all inside, solve problems internally yet retain attachment; occasionally I do have to vent some steam (which, I will learn one day, never gets me anywhere). Avoidance and withdrawal is hard to deal with, when you need the verification of response, as is having a partner who seems to dredge up Every Single Little Thing. The vocal partner is frequently seen as the stereotypical nag, whereas the withdrawing/absent partner is always seen as strong and silent to sympathetic onlookers.

We seem to have coped OK over the decades and will doubtless carry on as before. I worry we talk to each other less and less. I wonder if I will need to keep busier and busier to fill in the gaps and subdue my characteristic processor behaviour. I do sometimes wonder if this is how a long-term relationship is meant to be - should there be more excitement, companionship or sharing perhaps, or is this how two people manage life together?

He makes me chamomile tea in the evenings, does some housework, earns the money, empties/fills the dishwasher, steps in with childcare, keeps a roof over our heads, works from home so I can keep up with college courses, and cooks at the weekends (including waffles for breakfast). In return, I do the grocery shopping, keep him fed and raise our child, keep his clothes laundered, file the bank statements, and make sure the bills are paid on time. We both benefit. I cope with his snoring/sleep apnoea, silence, lycra, an excess number of bicycles in the garage, and body hair. He made it thru my labyrinthitis and copious vomiting, labour, deafness, hair dye, symmetrically-arranged eggboxes, on-call weekends, unsuitable dinner conversation, visits with my family, miscarriage, and shingles (note: not all at once). He isn't my best friend or any other kind of cutesy relationship descriptor; we're in a domestic partnership.  

In summary, I am one very lucky woman (as has been pointed out to me on many occasions) - I'm married and we have a child, and did I mention the domestic bliss? I have a somewhat stable financial future. My son is growing up in a relatively comfortable household. I don't suffer any physical abuse. There is a roof over our heads. I live my life without interference and am free to plan my days. I am not overtly controlled. I'm grateful someone wants to live with me so I don't have to be solo. I am not alone.

Thank you for staying around and happy anniversary, sweetie - here's to the next magical twenty years whatever they may bring :) xox
ebb and flo by pomo mama design click to shop pomo mama design online!