I went to the canteen this morning to get my breakfast before I started a gruelling day of work and I overheard the following statement from a lady perched on a high stool near the automatic doors – I assume to get better phone signal – who uttered the following words down the phone:
“Sometimes I just wish I was single. Everything about him now irritates me, his face, his smell. Sometimes I just want to tell him ‘for the sake of our marriage please shut up!’”
Even for the most optimistic of us, hearing such a statement will surely induce some level of concern about the romanticised ideal of conjugal bliss that we’ve become accustomed to fantasising about. I for one am guilty of such fantasies. My gated 4 bedroom detached house in Richmond with my 2 kids (one boy one girl of course) and my uber perfect husband with his ripped abdomen, suave demeanour and ever romantic gestures *swoons* and his large bank balance that’s ALWAYS in the black with a minimum of 6 figures at any point. I’ve always been a dreamer.
Lately though the possibility of such an ideal not occurring has started to dawn on me and I’ve found it hard to cope with. I blame it on growing up. The pressure of financial resources, the apparent scarcity of ‘good men’ and the continuous worry of one’s ticking female body clock (a thought that paints an image of my ovaries drying up egg by egg) are not the ideal backdrop to start dreaming up the perfect marriage.
I’d imagine that I-wish-I-was-single lady (henceforth IWIWSL) didn’t feel the way she feels now when she first met her husband. I’m sure she was well and truly loved up, head over heels with him that she saw all his imperfections but still loved him anyway. But at what point in the marriage did the blind eye to the imperfections start to have 20/20 vision? I’m sure his voice used to lull her to sleep and create many ‘tingling sensations’ when he spoke to her and uttered sweet nothings. But when in the marriage did she suddenly stop hearing birds chirping and started hearing the deafening vibrations of a construction site drill? Where is this point of conjugal decline? And more importantly how does one recognise it and turn it to a J-curve instead?
Could it be that the point of conjugal decline was present from the beginning but was conveniently stowed away as all other romanticised ideals superseded our conscious, rational thought? Surely there were signs of imperfections in the beginning. Surely the person had irritating habits in the beginning. Surely the person’s voice could not have varied by so many octaves automatically following marriage. I think we have been fed an unrealistic expectation of marriage. Once where once you walk down the aisle in your beautiful sweetheart neckline ivory dress, with your 6 bridesmaids and cushion cut platinum engagement ring on your left finger (*ahem* future husband please pay BIG attention to the ring detail here), you live happily ever after with no financial hindrances, no arguments and no flaws. Perfect!
Please wake up from this dream. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. Of course it does. But have you prepared yourself for the possibility that it won’t? Have you built up the mental strength to deal with the pressure if your 6 figure earning husband suddenly gets made redundant and you become the main breadwinner in your household? Have you mentally prepared yourself for the possibility that in the beginning you may have to settle for a 1 bedroom council flat in a grimy estate because it’s cheaper than the £2000 a month 2 bedroom/2 bathroom with walk in closet apartment in Chelsea you’ve coveted all this while so you and your Mr can get yourself on your feet? Or ladies, have you mentally prepared yourself for the possibility that the holidays in Antigua and the Bahamas may have to wait a few decades because things are ‘tough right now’?
Like me, you probably hadn’t, but I think you probably should. Because while some girls are lucky enough to have it all on arrival of their dream man, you may not be so lucky. So what will you do? Face reality square on and do what’s necessary, or bury your head in the sand, only to resurface years later and utter the words IWIWSL did?
Please wake up!