Not being ‘the Mrs’

Losing my Dad at 13 had a profound influence on me, but not just in the way it affected me at the time, but the way I looked at the future. It made me make a lot of decisions about the future – obvious ones like living for the moment and not dwelling on the retirement fund (who knows if you’ll get to enjoy it,) but also a pledge of independence.

I watched with pride the way my mum picked up the running of our household. I dont mean the day to day – obviously she already did the shopping, the cooking and the traditional roles any Mum would do in the home, (actually she was working by then too,) but also the more traditionally male roles. My Mum became our financial decision maker, book keeper, accountant and gardener. Looking around, many women in their fifties might have fallen apart, not even knowing where to start with household admin they didn’t normally even see. She was able to do it because she and my Dad had unusually always done things like that together and of course it would be obvious to say she also had to. I made me realise I never wanted to become the kind of woman or wife that ‘left things to him’.

A few years on, after only 3 years of marriage I can already feel us slipping into separate roles. I convinced myself it was delegation with things like holiday planning when I was too busy or looking for a new insurance quote, but I felt a bit guilty every time I asked Pete to take out the bin! It’s like that old leadership adage, don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t be prepared or able to do yourself.

More recently, its been all about DIY. For over months the cold tap in our bathroom had a washer problem and although the tap turned, no water came out. It wasn’t sudden, both of us watched it get worse for months and neither of us did anything until one day it stopped. I nagged (no, not my favourite word but I’m prepared to admit that’s what it was,) Pete for months, first to fix it and then to get someone who could. He actually didn’t know how to fix it but I wanted him to look it up or something, there’s always Google right? Of course the answer was that I could just as easily have done something about it myself instead of letting it become the butt of every argument. Eventually the tap got fixed (Pete’s solution was to replace the taps, but that’s another story) and before long there was another minor DIY job… the hook the blind cord wrapped around in our bedroom worked its way loose from the wall along with the surrounding plaster and we couldn’t raise the blind. We both carried on, the hook could be left in place and if you crossed your fingers, it might not fall out during the day, but obviously it wasn’t ideal. The nagging started again.

A couple of weeks ago one Saturday morning I realised, I was becoming that woman. The truth was that although I was busy, really I was also out of practice. I had gone from someone who used to put her own shelves up, to being scared to try to fix this minor problem because I didn’t know how to tackle it any more. So I went and found the tool box, customised some rawl plugs to fill the gap and used a shed load of no-nails to secure the hook. Not all that technical I know, but I felt empowered to start doing these things again. Next on my list is the broken bathroom window lock. I’m told you can buy new double glazing locks and fit them yourself…

I guess some women look at men taking the traditional male roles of DIY etc as being ‘looked after’ but I don’t need Pete to do this stuff to show he loves me, I need me to do them, to make me feel strong. So if the worst ever happens, I know I can manage by myself.

I’d love to hear your take on this readers, it’s high time we had a bit more life-discussion around here and I hope to be bringing you more posts like this, but they don’t work without your input and conversation. Do you DIY and how do you feel about apportioning roles in your relationship? Have I made you think about retaining your independence?


Three years and counting…

Today, as you read, it’s Pete and my third wedding anniversary, an occasion for leather gifts (if you happen to be following the traditional system of gifts) and reflection. I love that so many of my readers are going through the same life events as me, settling down, getting engaged, married and starting a home or family, so I wanted to mark the occasion in some way and hear your thoughts.

I naturally started thinking, how are things different now, compared to when we were first married? Although some people say they felt no difference after getting married, perhaps considering their relationship no less solid before that little bit of paper, I felt a huge change. A sense of solidarity, like we were truly a team, for better for worse. I was pretty pleased I bagged my man, he’s a keeper. πŸ˜‰

Fast forward 2 years, at the start of our third year of marriage and we were already in testing times. I wasn’t all that happy in my work and blogging had taken over. I’m not proud of that. Pete in contrast was happier than ever with a new job and the only mar on the landscape of his life was the fact that he saw very little of his wife. He kept the house clean, cooked my dinner and kept me emotionally sane, greeting me at the door with a glass of wine most evenings. And when life as I knew it fell apart, he quite literally had my back.

When I think now about what marriage means, more than ever I see it as taking care of one another, Pete is a wonderful husband to me and back then, I was not a good wife. I knew it, I felt guilty, but I was too busy to really see it. Pete taught me by his actions back then more than anything else could about what it is to be a good husband or wife.

Thank goodness, fate intervened and life at the beginning of year four is a completely different picture. The feminist in me takes pride in being an equal partner once again, sharing the load of daily life. Little things I do for him are not acts of servitude, but kindness, probably because they are returned in equal measure. I am still so lucky that Pete accepts and encourages Florence Finds as an achievement, supporting me when I need a little extra help to get by.

So, although there have been monumental changes in the last year, to my life and our lives together, the result has been a change in our marriage, for the better.

Now it’s your turn readers. I’d love to hear if what I’ve shared today resonates – if a big life event has come along and tested your marriage or relationship already or maybe I’ve just reminded you to take care of each other a little more. On a more light hearted note, I’d love to hear of any ingenious gifts you have bought each other for anniversaries that signify the early years… perhaps some ideas for number four?! πŸ˜‰


PS – The images throughout this post are a sneaky peek into our holiday so far.. not the glossy blog shots edited for your enjoyment, but the cheesy end of your outstretched arm shots and the ones you ask other people to take. The ones that make memories, so please forgive the blur/bad lighting etc.

PPS – Think the tandem is funny? Seriously you should try it… it’s a one-way ticket to marriage counselling on 2 wheels πŸ˜‰

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