It is my opinion and assertion, after almost 50 years on this earth, that there is no such thing as a perfect couple and, moreover, there are plenty of happy marriages out there who will often disagree, debate, and at times even hurt each other with something they do or say.
It is a popular opinion that only a mate that never lets us down, never disappoints or never makes us examine our relationship or reset our boundaries are the ones worth having or that are built to last. I know I certainly thought that because of everything I read and watch on tv/ movies always told me so.
I believe that they are all very wrong.
Today I now see a good marriage as one that does not deeply harm us physically or emotionally and one were you believe that life with your partner is far better than life without them.
I also used to think that the longer you are married than the closer you must get to perfection and bliss. Once again I have had to completely change my mind about this and be prepared to see things very differently. I know plenty of couples who are married longer term and who still fall out, argue, lose their temper, aggravate each other and so on.
It is not a straight line from marriage to eternal bliss and it has nothing to do with your age or how long you have been together.
In fact, the longer that some people are together the more that they can become set or fixed into certain behaviours and become unwilling to change them; even to help their marriages. Behaviours become habits that are hard to break. But are they still viable marriages? I think so.
The fact is that even as we get older we can change our perspective about things and about life as a whole. What made us happy years ago can no longer float our boats. Personal growth can be the most wonderful thing about this life but we forget that in order to grow in some areas it can take some very dark times and awful challenges. These things can happen inside and outside of a marriage but they still effect both parties.
We can never know or predict what is going to happen in life and what is going to happen in a marriage and although there is a huge part of me that likes to control and predict how and when things will happen it has never turned out the way I thought. Ever.
I never thought I would be this dependant upon another human being and lose this much control of my body and abilities. I hate it. My husband never thought such a thing would happen to me either based on the woman he first met.
If you had asked me 25 years ago if I would ever marry I would have said NO. If you had asked me if I was likely to become sick like this I would have said NO. If you had asked me if my marriage would survive a situation like this I would have said… absolutely NOT.
Yet here we are.
No one can ever judge or truly know the worth of a marriage as an outside observer. There are far too many factors that are never seen nor felt by anyone outside. We lack context and the subtleties of feelings and experiences when we try to see a marriage we are not in. But I have also realised that if you have to justify or rationalise your marriage then you are, perhaps, not truly enjoying it or feeling the benefit of it.
There are plenty of things about my husband today that I would dearly like for him to change. There are plenty of things that take me to the brink of my tolerance and sanity (snoring comes to mind) and there are many times that I have even considered leaving him because of how he has hurt my feelings and disappointed me in some way and I can only assume the same is true for him. The fact is that his good points, good intensions, love and support far out way his bad points and together we continue to try to do the right thing by each other and ourselves. I am sure he does the same for me when I have tested his patience and endurance.
I am not married to an overly romantic man who gushes and writes poems dedicated to me. He often can come across as indifferent. I would dearly love him to be more demonstrative and validate me and my worth more often. It would be wonderful. But that doesn’t mean that there is not love and care in some of the other things he does and says. I have realised that this means that I must look for signs of love and devotion in other places and in less obvious (and cinematic) ways.
I see the love and respect that comes from waking up in the middle of the night to rub my joints, change heat packs, bring my meds, take me to the bathroom and listen to me tell him again that I can’t take it all.
I give my love by accepting that he will never understand the pain and sacrifice I go through, and the challenges that doing any small thing for him can present me (like cooking a meal for him).
How we show love and express love seems to change over time too and stops being things like chocolates, romantic dinners, jewellery and perfume etc and starts taking on more substantive things, like loyalty, honesty, commitment, laughing together, crying together and sharing our most inner thoughts and secrets. Only someone who loves you can watch you age and change physically and yet still see you as the most beautiful person they have ever met. Only someone who loves me could see me struggle to move, see my face drooping, see me needing help to eat and see my face swollen from crying and still think that they have a precious gift laying beside them every night.
One thing that I can honestly say about my marriage that we both work hard to do l, despite all the things we have been through and all the arguments and problems we have encountered, is that we have agreed to put aside whatever is happening or whatever has been said and cuddle in together each night, even if it may be the last thing we want to do in that moment. We both deserve to sleep as best we can and rest as much as we can before taking on the new day and looking with fresh eyes at the situation.
As yet this rule hasn’t been broken.
It seems human nature that we may want to keep improving the way our relationships look and feel and there is this naive belief that they can become better and better over time, but it’s become clear to me that this isn’t true and some of the most important changes are in the way we change and how we ultimately value the relationships we do have.