I had been married for 10 years before we separated, so am by no means an expert. To some, I may as well have still been on my honeymoon. I’ve read loads of blogs like this one by Naomi (aka Tattooed Mummy) about the secret to a long and happy marriage, and the common theme is compromise. Doing things that you don’t like in order to either spend time with your significant other or show that you are willing to put yourself through the mill for their sake. But there are a few things about me that, unfortunately – no matter how hard my ex wife tried – never managed to change:
I am not a mind reader. This may come as a surprise to many of you out there, but I can not read minds. I know, I know, it’s shocking isn’t it; I must have missed the class at husband school that teaches us how to read our other halves’ minds. No matter how many times you say “I shouldn’t have to tell you, you should just know!” I will never know. If you walk out and don’t tell me that something needs doing, unless it’s on my list of priorities, or it impacts on me in any way, I will not do it. If you want something doing, tell me.
Likewise, if I tell the kids they can or can not do something; or let them know we will go somewhere, unless you tell me about the plans you have made separately, or the new rules you have created, I will never know. My brain doesn’t have an automatic RSS feed of your brain, unless I’m told I will never know. I am a simple creature, if you tell me to do something I will do it; if you don’t tell me, I won’t.
I will work to my priorities, not yours. If – by some miracle – I am actually told (or asked) to do something, I will fit it in my list of things to do and it will get done in line with my own prioritisation matrix. So when you say, do the whites for me, please don’t get offended if I haven’t headed straight to the laundry basket on completion of the request. I have noted it, and I will get round to doing it as and when I feel it should be done. I don’t need a micro manager, I have enough of them at work. On more than one occasion I’ve been asked to do something and no sooner have I said “Yep, no problem” I hear my wife doing the task. I ask what she’s playing and am told that I didn’t do it fast enough. I then get the “Why do I have to do everything?” tantrum and it seems the “You don’t HAVE to, you’re CHOOSING to.” response isn’t an appropriate one. As with the first heading, if you want it doing right then, tell me and I’ll do it.
My standards are very different. This is where I think the compromise option is most appropriate in my relationship. If standards were a ladder, I’d be on rung one and my wife’s would be on the top rung of a three piece extended ladder used by window cleaners of skyscrapers, or a fire engine ladder. To compromise, we should meet in the middle somewhere; I should improve mine and she should reduce hers, but that doesn’t happen. I have tried bringing mine up, but it seems I never quite get them high enough. Whilst I’m happy to just flap the duvet over the bed and line up the pillows – which is a vast improvement on not bothering at all – it’s not good enough. I vacuum the bits that need vacuuming, but I should have done the whole house. I wipe the sides with Dettol wipes, but I should have gone over it with a piece of kitchen towel to dry up the residue. Nothing I do is ever good enough, so I’ve given up trying. Even when I’ve really tried to match the standards, all I hear is the negative huff of a dissatisfied spouse.
I will never appear on Chanel 4’s Super Scrimpers. I like a good bargain, I really do, but I do not understand the logic in driving through bastard traffic to the other side of town to buy milk that’s 24p cheaper. I don’t understand the need to shop at 5 different shops in order to save a total of £15 off my weekly shop. I don’t want to get a Boots meal deal because I have a £1 off voucher, I’d rather get a full priced pub lunch on my day of indulgence, thank you very much. My wife, on the other hand, would give Gregg Wallace and Chris Bavin a good old run for their money. She should be hosting Eat Well For Less, not those amateurs. But it’s a pain in the arse, it really is. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks, but sometimes, just sometimes, I want to pay full price and have the expensive option. I’ve bloody earned it.
I will continue to be spatially aware of my surroundings. “You care too much about other bloody people!” is something I’ve been told many times. I move my trolley to the side rather than block the aisle; I move to the side of the road when pausing in the street; and I let others go before me if I’m in two minds what to have on the menu; and worst of all, I look around me before stepping off into the busy flow of pedestrians. This apparently makes me a bastard. I’m sorry. I’m constantly saying “Mind out Vik…” as she’s about to clatter into someone because she’s not looking where she’s going. “Well they could move too!” she comes back with. “You’re always taking everyone else’s side!” and it’s true, I do, but I can’t help it. I’ve tried, but have always crumbled and mouthed sorry on behalf of both of us afterwards. It’s been grained into me, unfortunately, and I don’t think it’s something I’ll stop.
No doubt you’re now divided in your opinion. Some of you will be jumping defiantly to the defence of my wife and saying that I need to buck my ideas up; some of you will be nodding along in deep recognition and wondering what it is about the other half that just doesn’t get it. We married for better or for worse; well here’s my worse and now my wife needs to accept it. Once she’s accepted it, the moaning and nagging can stop, and we can all be happier as a result.
What do you wish your other half would realise isn’t going to change about you?