Girl Talk: We made it to three! Triple whee!
Loyal GWAS followers might recall my post 'Marriage is like Magda', in which I described the "Les Misérables" skit Husband and I were in the habit of performing for all and sundry in order to deflect the fact that we were well and truly, well, miserable.
Following that post, I was commissioned to write a story for CLEO titled 'What No One Tells You About Marriage', which painted a pretty bleak picture of life after "till death do us part". I broke that down into six pointers: he will treat you like his mother; you marry his family and his ex-baggage; men want sex ALL the time; it's all about the "in-betweens"; and you must invest. Of course, I concluded on an upbeat note: "you may even find it within yourself to laugh at his fart jokes". Some people were aghast, but it was absolutely a projection of our growing pains.
Now, I'm happy to report that three years into this crazy thing they call marriage, we are going great-guns (less guns blazing, more peace fire). In a sort of ironic turn of events, life literally conspired to tear us down (career burnout, financial issues, health issues, people issues), but rather than run away or turn on each other, we rolled with the punches together. Playing different roles but on the same team, we talked long and deep and prayed hard (and occasionally bit our tongues). Like Princess Buttercup and Wesley facing the fire swamp and defeating Prince Humperdinck (see The Princess Bride), adversity, it would seem, turned our marriage around. That, the grace of God, and a little thing called The Marriage Course.
A few months ago, we agreed to join two other couples (one with three children; the other with a baby on the way) in a marriage course called, yes, The Marriage Course! We met each Wednesday night for seven weeks to watch a DVD, complemented by a workbook (which Husband doodled all over – symbolically defacing our marriage!), and discuss our "issues" together. While Husband still declares the whole process was a patronising exercise in Wasting Time (he being the marriage expert and all), I know we gained a lot of insight into our inherent differences, needs, desires and hopes, and how we can adopt practical measures to keep the love alive. The top three things I learned?
1. That looking after myself is one of the best investments into our marriage I can make. My happiness = husband happiness. Obviously, my eating disorder had a drastic impact on the health of our marriage – like an addiction or infidelity, it crept in between us and created a vast chasm. Closing that gap has been tough. Really tough. But, as Husband said to me: "You don't have the choice of going through this alone." For him, it's meant trying to understand, learning to be empathetic and being patient; for me, it's been a willingness to let him in to help me heal. I've also had to turn my mentality from victim to victor: taking that dance class, eating well, sleeping well, pursuing friendships, getting career satisfaction, buying that new dress... it's all part of becoming whole again.
2. That we need to spend quality time together OFTEN, which does not include being in the same room attached to our Apple Macs. Husband and I are both workaholics. Not for financial gain or status, but because we're passionate about our work and living out our life purposes. No matter the motive, if work takes over, there's another wedge in your marriage. Sometimes the wedge is deliberate: rather than deal with our problems, we'd burrow further into our respective jobs. While we have more boundaries about our home office now, we're working towards moving our office space off campus. And, shock horror, having no internet connection at home! We're also aiming to pursue joint interests, do new things and take more mini-breaks to keep from burning out (again).
3. That love is about putting yourself in your partner's shoes... even if they're big and clumpy and uncomfortable. Going camping is something Husband loves, so agreeing to do such activities is a way for me to ensure I'm doing my part for his happiness and to make him feel loved. Alternately, he loathes stinky old bookshops and going to the ballet, but knows they make me happy. Selflessness is a really hard thing to achieve, especially in a society that deems you're only as good as your last great career achievement, your wardrobe, your body weight and even how much time/money you gave to charity. The onus is on "being our best selves" but often we forget that the best way to be our best is to perform selfless acts for other people. Even our spouses. Part of this is learning to speak your partner's "love language" (I'm a mad gift-giver but gifts barely register on Husband's joy radar).
Oh, and then there's sex. That came up a lot. It's closely related to points #1, 2 and 3! Who'd have thought marriage would be SUCH HARD WORK?
Husband and I celebrated our third anniversary today with coffee, macaroons and friands at Hart's Cafe on Mount Tamborine (owned by Pro Hart's son, Kym, and his wife Debbie, if you're curious – thank you for the special treatment, guys!).
Tomorrow he goes on tour with the JC Epidemic crew before departing for China for a week of show riding (he be a freestyling motocross madman). For the first time, I'm not afraid to say out loud that I will miss him and that I prefer having him around. No kidding.
Artwork by Olivia, our 3-year-old niece.
Girl With a Satchel