Wedded Bliss?

by Nicki King

Etta Clark, Untitled, 1987

Call us old fashioned, but I didn’t actually live with my husband (I still can't get used to that term!) before we got married. Not for any strong moral or religious reasons, it just didn’t suit us at the time. He had a house, I had a house, both of which needed attention and upkeep—so we lived our lives separately, together, if you know what I mean.

The plans were made, the engagements with the ladies that lunch went successfully, if a little boozily, and all was set. The day came, everyone ran round in circles in true English wedding style, and it was almost the fairy tale that everyone prays for. Everything was great.

It was when we arrived home from our honeymoon that our real lives living together began. I love my husband dearly and I would marry him again tomorrow, but I wasn't prepared for the massive change in my lifestyle.

I'm not talking about the obvious things like the toilet seat being left up. No, the things that I'm struggling with are on a far more selfish level. I had lived on my own for seven years before entering the "shared life" contract, and I was used to coming and going as I pleased. If I wanted to stay the night at my sister's, I just did. If I wanted to go to bed at 8 p.m. with my book, I just did. If I wanted to watch TV in bed until 3 a.m., I just did. The fact of the matter is, I'm just not used to sharing my life.

There are certain things that I expect too, like, We're married now, so why is he reading the paper and not talking to me? On the other hand, I want to read the newspaper myself, and God help him if he dares to try and strike up a conversation then!

My husband, (I'm getting used to the term now!), works long hours. He is tired when he gets in from work and often falls asleep on the sofa in the evening. I understand that, but he worked the same hours before we got married. Why didn't he fall asleep then?

When he does wake up from his somewhat noisy slumber he will then go to bed. More often than not, I am not yet sufficiently bored with the TV to sleep, so I stay downstairs. When fatigue and boredom reach critical levels I retire to the bedroom, only to find all the lights switched off.

What do I do? Do I switch the lights on and risk disturbing him? Not fair when he has to be up for work in a few hours! Or, do I risk breaking something while trying to maneuver around the bed in the dark? In most instances, I fumble my way across the room and feel a sense of relief and achievement by the time I fall into bed. However, the exertion wakes me up and I don't feel sleepy anymore—Life, eh?

The truth is, I have to learn to share, in much the same way as the only child who's used to having all of her toys and sweets to herself. When a baby appears on the scene, what was "mine" becomes "ours." Now I have to share not only the house that I have occupied in glorious and selfish solitude for many years, but also my time, my thoughts, and my dreams. Will I make the adjustment?

Stay tuned.

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