As I heard my husband Patrick yell out that he was sick of eating the same stuff for dinner three days in a row, I knew the honeymoon was truly over. I looked around the house; the whole thing was a mess. There were dirty clothes all over the place, the sink was full of dirty vessels, there was nothing to eat in the refrigerator, there was a pile of bills waiting to be paid and the whole house could do with a thorough cleaning. Moreover, that was just the part that could be fixed, because things were looking bleak indeed.
It was only three months since our wedding, but Patrick and I could not bear to be in each other’s company. We rarely talked leave alone do anything remotely romantic and to imagine that I was told that the first year after marriage was supposed to be like the ultimate honeymoon! I screamed, “If you want something different, fix it yourself” while slamming the door to the bedroom. All I wanted was a nice hot bath and a good night’s sleep. “Thank God, tomorrow is Saturday!” I thought to myself as I stepped into the tub for a good soak.
Soon I could hear the television being switched on and knew that Patrick would be sulking in front of the TV for a long time before coming to bed. I lay there soaking in the water and wondered what had gone wrong with us. We were great when we were dating and we had done that for over a year before which we had been friends for about two years. Things seemed to go downhill a week after we got back from the honeymoon. I felt as though he expected me to become his mother as far as cooking and the household chores were concerned and he accused me of being interested in him only for money and romance. That was not fair, I earned too, maybe not as much as him but I was not definitely sponging off him.
As I lay there after a bath, I decided that we needed to do something about this marriage. It simply was not working and I for one did not know what to do. I really needed someone to tell me what to do. I knew just the person – my cousin Maddie who had been happily married for 18 years. If only I could persuade Patrick to go to their place for a visit. I decided to call Maddie to find out if it was okay for us to visit. After the usual greetings, I got down to the matter; I said, “Listen Maddie, I need your help. My marriage is not working; please tell me what to do”. She laughed and simply invited both of us to lunch. In fact, she even went a step further, spoke to Patrick, and invited him to lunch with the promise that she would make his favorite dish. I knew if anybody could help, it was my cousin.
The next day we managed to have a civil morning, with me tidying the kitchen while Patrick fixed our breakfast. We both attacked the dirty clothes and sorted the bills in the order they needed to be paid. I was surprised at how well both of us behaving but a little saddened at the polite and formal way we were talking to each other. Soon it was time to leave for our lunch at Maddie’s house. We reached well on time having decided to buy some chocolates for Maddie’s kids and some wine to go with lunch for the grownups to have.
After warm hugs and greetings, we all settled down to chat in the living room. Soon Jake, Maddie’s husband set the table for the kids to have lunch even as Maddie went about heating and serving the kids. While Jake made sure that the teenage kids finished their salads, Maddie cut the food for their seven year old. Throughout the meal, I noticed that they smiled at each other and touched each other whenever possible. Soon it was time for us to eat. Again, Jake set things up while Maddie served all of us, we all sat down and the food was delicious! All of us chatted and enjoyed the lunch; it was so relaxing. Once the meal was done, I was surprised to see Patrick get up and offer to help clear things up. I could not stop myself from saying “Hey! What is this? You never offer to help clear things at home, then why pretend here?”
Patrick turned and said with a lot of scorn “That is because you never cook such a delicious meal for me”. On hearing that, Maddie and Jake turned to us with concerned looks and then turned to each other with a loaded look. Maddie said, “Listen guys, I know you are having some issues, but maybe talking about it will help”. On hearing, this Patrick looked a little shamefaced and said, “Sorry, I should not have said that”. However, Jake and Maddie sat us down and gave us what they called a quick but very important list of marriage rules. Here is what they had to say:
- Your marriage is not working because you are not. For a marriage to work both of you have to work at it.
- Being together does not just mean romance and sharing your bed, but also sharing everything else, which means the household chores, the bills, the pains and all the joys too.
- Marriage is not going to be just like dating multiplied many times over and if you think of it, even during dating both of you worked at pleasing the other in many ways, do the same thing now.
- Instead of blaming, the other person for not doing something, each of you sit down and decide what each will do according to your strengths.
- Always talk things out in a calm manner instead of yelling or letting things fester.
At the end of their speech, both Patrick and I looked at each other shamefaced. However, we knew what we had to be done. Soon I was taking care of the dishes and clothes while Patrick took up cooking, as he was better at it. We did the paying of the bills, the house cleaning and grocery shopping together. With a bit of planning, we even found time to nominate Friday night as “Date night” when we dressed up and planned a special outing. Soon I started looking forward to life instead of thinking when I think of my life I want to cry.