Today has got me in a reflective mood, 10 years ago today I met the man I will spend the rest of my life with. On Sunday we will have been a couple for 24 years, in September we will have been married 21 years.
I look back now and think how young we were when we met just 23 years old and just 26 when we married. Thinking about how much we have both grown personally and as a couple, I do occasionally think that 26 was far too young to settle down. I don’t regret getting married at that age but if one of my younger friends said to me that they were going to tie the knot at that age I would be asking them if they were really sure! Despite all my reservations now, I have to admit we were engaged within a month of meeting. We both knew we had met the person we were going to marry.
Those of you who are long term readers of my blog or who know me outside the realm of cyber space will know that life has thrown its fair share of trials and tribulations at us, like it does at anyone and I am proud of the way we have pulled together. We have had people who have tried to insert themselves into our relationship, we have had people we thought were friends attempt to split us up.
No relationship is ever a fairy tale, there are always things that annoy you about your partner and things that annoy them about you. I do think the most important thing to remember is that you wont change your partner by being in a relationship with them. Far too many people enter into relationships and think they can mould their partner into their ideal partner. Then over time when their plan doesn’t work, the quirks they thought they were going to get rid of through marriage or just being together, start to irritate them beyond belief and it can mark the beginning of the end for that relationship.
I have always been quite pragmatic about my relationship with Jay. After a series of heartbreaks as a teenager where I worked out that some of my behaviours could be seen as obsessive, needy etc I read lots of self help books. Not about “getting a man” but ones where I would identify and work on those aspects of my character that were still quite immature. I am quite proud of the fact that at the age of 19 I realised I would never be happy if I didn’t feel more confident in myself. I’m not about the whole “if you don’t love yourself no one else will love you bullshit”. I am more about understanding why the previous relationships had failed and there was blame on both sides. I had been devastated beyond belief with two of them ending despite now looking back and realising what a lucky escape I had!
For the three years before I met Mr Myasthenia Kid I was single, not a nun I can assure you but I was single. I had learned to be secure and happy in my own company. Sure at times I was lonely, especially when I moved away from home and lived on my own in a town I didn’t know with people who were strangers to me. I know at times when I closed my front door at night, I knew I wouldn’t see another living soul until I was back at work the next day. This situation didn’t change when Jay and I started dating as he lived an hour away from me, we saw each other on Sundays and days off. It was really good for me to have this situation as it meant that my whole world didn’t revolve around him, I had to make friends and carve out a life for myself, which I did.
It was 18 months until we lived together and even then it still felt like we were in a long distance relationship as he was working twilight shifts in another town. So he would be leaving for work at 4pm and wouldn’t get home until 2.30-3am. At the time and I really don’t know how I did it, I would get up, have a cup of tea and a chat with him when he got home. Because otherwise we could go days without seeing each other properly. This period of around 3 years was really tough on our relationship, it was much harder than when we were in separate towns. Mr Myasthenia Kid was permanently knackered with working these shifts in a shitty location. He was too inexperienced to stand up for himself and as a consequence had to put up with some appalling employment conditions, with god awful managers.
In around 2001, we actually worked together in the same location ( and did until I was ill health retired in 2008 ). This was a good laugh, we still didn’t see an awful lot of each other as we worked a lot of different shifts. It also wasn’t always possible to have the same holiday as each other. The main problem I seemed to encounter was staff not understanding that we were separate employee’s and disputes with either one of us, seemed to drag the other one into it no matter how hard we fought to remain independent from each other. When working in the same store we had even less time together really as usually we only had one day a week off together. We also liked the money that working Sunday overtime gave us. Due to this we would have 2 Sundays a month together and occasionally our day off in the week would coincide.
I know some people think I am crazy when I say that ill health retirement does have it’s bonuses. At the grand old age of 47 I have spent more time with my husband than many people get in a lifetime. I see him every morning, every evening and he pops home for lunch most days. I get every Sunday with him and every day off. Last year when he was shielding I had 7 weeks solid with him and yes we are both still alive! That was actually one of the longest periods of time we have ever spent together without one of us working. Our relationship has grown stronger and stronger since 2008. At the point when I was ill health retired in 2008, I really don’t think it would have taken much for our relationship to have broken down irretrievably. There was nothing that either of us had done wrong, it was just the fact that we were spending so little time together and we were both taking each other for granted a little.
We have been incredibly fortunate that despite the stresses and strain that Chronic illness has thrown our way that instead of drifting apart we have become closer than ever. I know ( this feels so weird saying it) a lot of our friends think we are their relationship goal. They want to be as comfortable in their own skin as Jay and I are together. We have been lucky in the fact that not only did we fall in love but we became each others best friend. We can finish each others sentences, quite often we will suddenly start singing the same song at the same time. Quite often we will bring a subject up that the other has been mulling over but hasn’t talked about with the other. At times it is incredibly spooky.
Now that all the soppy stuff is out the way, I will quite happily tell you that there are things that annoy the hell out of me about Mr Myasthenia Kid, I am sure there is stuff about me that grinds his gears. I have mentioned previously his awful habit of getting his blue hair gel in the bathroom basin, every morning and never seeing it, so I have to clear it up. Also he never puts his hair gel away once he has used it. Daily I have to put it back on his shelf in the bathroom. The fact that he is still smoking, despite telling me three years ago, when I gave up he would. I hate the smell of it. The fact I have to tell him to do stuff repeatedly and then he moans at me for nagging! Due to my misphonia, I can’t abide the sound of him eating, I know that there is nothing wrong with it. I just can’t stand the sound of anyone eating or nasal breathing sets my teeth on edge and make me really angry! So I am not a barrel of laughs to live with, coupled with my streak of perfectionism he has a lot to deal with!
But somehow we work. It feels effortless most of the time. Occasionally I have to step back and deal with things pragmatically, knowing that he was like this before I met him and if he hasn’t changed in 24 years it ain’t going to happen now. Since dealing with things realistically and sensibly instead of blowing up like I used to life is a lot less stressful. I no longer get angry at the small stuff that doesn’t matter and I don’t “punish” or “berate” him for being himself. I just decided “what’s the point in that”. I do believe with age comes wisdom, I hope I use that wisdom. I am not perfect by any means, I am a work in progress as we all are.