What kind of fuckery is this?

9 May

Grounds for divorce? The woman who made this would be wedding dress is no longer a friend.

My husband and I have been doing our best impressions of Mr and Mrs Twit  for the past couple of days. We don’t resemble them looks-wise yet, despite my over-bite and my husband’s patchy beard, but we have been so spectacularly and childishly mean to one another that we might as well be Roald Dahl’s evil characters. Now it’s time to call it quits, before one of us sends the other up into the sky with 1,000 helium balloons.

The best – and at times – worst thing about being married with three children is that you can’t, unless you have a bank balance to match the Beckhams, just up and leave. You have to ride the choppy waves. And we have been doing this for the best part of the last decade, with ups and downs that would probably make a very hilly graph similar to the flashy double dip recession ones they show on the news. If this is the year of the itch, then we’re scratching without a thought for the angry, red rash that follows. But like I said, it has to stop, because it seems that our imminent seven-year wedding anniversary is a reminder that we have a strong dedication to making things work, for ourselves and the children.

To put an end to all this twittery I have been experimenting with a new way of thinking, and acting. It’s called the “How would you behave with your friends?” approach. It’s my way of trying to treat my husband better, because I realise that I’m usually decent to my friends. It’s easy to see why friendships differ so wildly from partnerships. If you take mine and my husband’s relationship, and probably most other peoples, then so many issues that arise in a marriage simply wouldn’t occur in even the best of friendships.

I don’t, for example, worry about the mortgage, childcare, family health, verrucas, warts, nits, contraception (to snip or tie or simply bag?), work/life balance, sex or lack of, where the nail scissors have been hidden, and the need for time to ourselves with my friends. We meet up, we talk, we have a good time and then we say goodbye until the next time. We help each other through trying times. We go along with everything with a “It’s what good friends do” attitude. We might email or call or text in-between meet ups, but, unless one is unlucky with their choice of friends (or has an aggressive nature), rowing doesn’t often occur.

I don’t know many people who are in “fighty” friendships. Post the playground years, if fall-outs occur, they are usually dealt with intelligently; the storm usually occurs well below sea-level, and the language used to communicate is far more savoury than in most rows that occur between partners.  I could count the number of times I’ve properly fallen out with any of my friends on one hand.

(Another story entirely, but one bust-up involved a friend accusing my nine-year-old daughter of being a treacherous, evil cow, and the other was a woman I met through our children’s nursery, who made me a wedding dress that transformed me into part-panto ugly sister, part-Fanny Craddock. She charged my mum the best part of a grand for her services, even after I tried the thing on and said “Look at this. Please say you’ll give some of the cash back. You must have worked blindfolded”.)

Friends and fighting is something I try to avoid at all costs, and yet I have argued regularly with every single one of my partners or behaved childishly towards them at some time or another.

There have been a number of scenarios where a little of my “How would you behave with your friends?” game would have come in very handy when dealing with my husband. It would have saved me from swearing, stomping, and seething. It would have allowed me to rise above the situation like Glinda the Good Witch of the South in The Wizard of Oz.

Yesterday, when I returned home after a drink, I rang the doorbell. The children were asleep, but it was only 9pm and I knew that my husband was still up. No answer. I called through the letterbox. “Hello? Could you let me in. I’m desperate for a pee and I’ve forgotten my keys.” I rang again. Nothing. I banged on the door.

My phone rang. I was worried that if I took the focus off trying not to pee myself by answering, then things would get messy, but I managed. “Did you forget your keys?” said my husband, from the phone, though he might as well have just shouted from inside – he was only 10 yards away. Moments later he came to the door. I wanted to knock him out, but my weak bladder saved me, and I headed to the loo instead.

Now obviously, a friend would answer the door within a few moments like a normal person, instead of calling me up from inside and quizzing me on the whereabouts of my keys. But if I were playing my game, how would I behave? Well, probably something like this.

“Sorry, were you upstairs? I forgot my keys, and I’m just about to piss myself.”

Of course, my husband’s infuriating behaviour had me fuming well into bedtime, but like a true Twit, I was plotting my comeback. I thought about all sorts of horrid things I could do to him, like crumbling cat biscuits into his cereal, or sending a tweet from his account saying “I’m really into this new Keane LP. The lyrics are hard to beat. Their best yet.”

But I didn’t do either of these things. I might have mouthed ‘Idiot’ a few times at him as he lay next to me in bed, eyes closed, but that was mild. And I might have done this to a friend if they’d behaved so ridiculously. Then I went to sleep and by this morning I’d forgotten about all the mean things I wanted to do.

Weirdly  enough, in the time that has elapsed since my husband left me on the stoop, or used my best pants as something to clean up baby sick from the bed this morning (he said they looked like a rag) I have a strange desire to sit down to dinner with him this evening. And I may even ask friendly questions, such as “Have you thought about going to the cinema this week? I reckon you could do with some time off.” Cheesy as it seems, it will stop me from being horrible. And I might even seem like a friend, rather than an enemy, for once.


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