I’d like to start this post by pointing out that I love being married. Husband is my best friend, we have had brilliant times together and I love him very much. This year will be our 5th anniversary and I think our relationship has only grown stronger during that time. Anything negative I may be about to say is entirely worthwhile and always outweighed by the positives.
However, I don’t think husband is some kind of Prince Charming, anymore than I’m some kind of fairytale Princess. I recall being in primary school and my female friends being obsessed with getting married. My parents’ marriage was so poor that I really didn’t see the appeal. They argued constantly, they had absolutely nothing in common and had almost entirely separate lives. But then what my friends were interested in was not really marriage. It was meeting someone who they’d instantly fall in love with, he’d be utterly perfect and they’d have a perfect beautiful wedding. The dress was obsessed over more than anything else. One friend, a fellow Beauty & the Beast fan, wanted basically a white version of the golden gown worn by Belle for the famous ballroom scene.
I actually got engaged at age five. My best friend at the time was a boy called Nick. One day, we decided that I shouldn’t go home because then we could play for longer. He came up with the plan that if we got married, I’d never have to go home and we could have fun all the time. I accepted then went home anyway and I think I was about seven when we last saw each other. The point of this little story is that I much preferred Nick’s idea of marriage to that of my female friends. We didn’t even discuss a wedding, we were focused on how fun being married would be.
It was the same when me and husband started discussing the idea of getting married. We talked about where we’d live and when we’d start trying for a baby – as it was we started instantly and I was five months pregnant when we got married. Only when we told his family did the idea of setting a date come up.
We got married at our local registry office and had a reception at husband’s grandmother’s house. It was a lovely day and I have got lovely memories of it but, actually, I think I remember more about the honeymoon. We spent two weeks in Spain in a great hotel beside the sea. Without going into graphic detail, a lot of time was spent in the hotel room. Other than that, we went to a safari park where we took a perilous trip in a 4×4 then, because we didn’t want to get back in the 4×4 for a return journey, we had to walk back to our coach in the heat, including walking across rope bridges above crocodiles and lions – I’m not exaggerating! Bearing in mind, I was nearly six months pregnant at this point and I have little fear of heights. We also got into fits of laughter upon seeing a bloke strolling along a nudist beach who clearly hadn’t been there long – he was entirely tanned except for his very white bum, it looked hilarious.
In the five years that have followed, we’ve had some great times but, if I’m honest, some not so great times. We’ve been through having a baby and moving house four times, plus we went through a whole of trouble dealing with my past. We’ve had countless arguments. We’ve both had times where we felt like the relationship might end. But we got through it and I think partly because we both went into marriage knowing that a good relationship takes work. You cannot just expect that because you fell in love with someone and he gave you a big diamond ring, you’re going to live happily ever after with no effort put in. Even outside of marriage, if you live with someone then you’re almost certainly going to argue. Its simply the result of two people living in such close quarters.
A good relationship takes effort. We very purposefully put time aside to spend just together, even when we’ve really been too tired or busy. We play board games and computer games together, we have grown up dinners after Pip goes to bed and, most importantly, we actually talk to each other. Not necessarily about problems we’re experiencing (although that is a good idea too) or about anything important at all. We can spend a whole evening talking about nothing in particular. We have a laugh, we get into silly moods and end up doing silly things such as husband daring me to eat strange food combinations such as fish fingers and custard or yorkshire pudding with peanut butter flavour ice cream (both of which are surprisingly not bad at all, particularly the latter).
I think the best compliment our relationship has received is that Pip wants to get married when she grows up but, much like myself, she’s not all that interested in a wedding. She likes the idea of being married because it means you get to spend all of your time with your best friend.
I am not saying that all relationships will work. Some couples just don’t work well together no matter how much effort is put in – that’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. But I really think that going into marriage with a realistic idea of what life is going to be like and a willingness to put some effort into it gives you a much better chance of a long and happy relationship.