How I used something destructive to find something good

I was reading an article on a LinkedIn site I follow which had quotes from successful business people about the best advice they’d ever received.  One quote from Allison Dunn, president and CEO of Deliberate Directions stated a mentor once told her “The only person in your whole life you get to choose is your spouse—everyone else is given to us: parents, siblings, schoolmates, co-workers, neighbours, even your children—so choose wisely”. 

In my early twenties I was in a long term relationship and lived with a guy who was earning roughly twice as much as me, he’d done his three year stint in the army and was pursuing a career in accountancy.  We’d hooked up at my 18th birthday party where he was the barman at the venue the party was held at.  We moved in together in to a tiny one room bedsit with a shared bathroom and kitchen.  From there we moved to a flat of our own and we got engaged and had even booked the church for our wedding.

Then he suddenly decided to move to another county.  One where he had lived before and had always wanted to go back to.  We hadn’t discussed it at all.  He just announced it.  I asked what I was supposed to do and he replied I could come too if I wanted to. I was young and naïve so duly followed, now requiring an hour long commute at either end of the working day. 

I spend two years trudging back and forth and during that time we bumped into his ex-girlfriends in pubs and he banged on and on about “when I was in the army…” He told me I didn’t know anything about anything and would never amount to much and if I went out with my own friends of an evening, clearly I was on the pull.

Eventually, I woke up and decided that I’d had enough.  I got up really early one Saturday morning and decided to move back to my parents.  I packed up my stuff in silence.  He didn’t even question what I was doing.  When I came to leave he told me that I didn’t have to but when I asked if there was any point in me staying he said probably not.

Despite that failed relationship I learned a lot about how I would be in any future relationship.  I would have my own ground rules about what I would do, when and with whom.  Any other partner would have to meet me on equal footing.  I was never going to be disrespected again.

Fast forward and I got together with C.  The first thing I did was to set out my ground rules and tell him that I would never ask his permission to do anything. I might ask his advice and I might consult with him but if I wanted, or didn’t want to, do anything I didn’t need his permission. 

C and I are very similar in that we don’t really do conflict.  We bumble along quite merrily.  We are comfortable in our independence but also as a couple.  We have things that we can do together and things we do separately.  We generally make decisions together and are totally united with the way we brought up R, and how we support her now.  I have become the wicked step-mother to his other children which has had some interesting challenges, particularly when they were younger.  I think we have a good relationship.

C makes me feel safe, valued and respected.  He totally blew me away by his response to something last year that I really didn’t expect he would go to that extreme for me. He might not like some of the things I say and do but never chastises me about it.  But then I don’t always like somethings he does or says.  We have similar outlooks on life and neither of us can be bothered to argue.  I can honestly say that we have never had a fight or serious argument.  It takes too much energy.

He supports me in all my endeavours.  After he retired early a couple of years ago, he has taken on the role of domestic goddess.  Dinner is ready when I get home from work, and he’s a damn good cook.  The washing is done (ok, I still do the ironing), the cleaning is done.  The food shopping is done.  He doesn’t get frustrated with all the meetings I’m at in the evenings, or at least never says anything.  He doesn’t complain when I’ve bought more clothes than I need (with my own money).  He supports my family shenanigans. I am sure there are things about me that frustrate him but he never mentions them. 

We have been married for over 24 years now and together 28.  I think we’ve got the measure of each other and as we transition into our dotage, I’m sure there will be new challenges ahead.  However, I am confident that we can continue to face them together.

I chose wisely.


One thought on “How I used something destructive to find something good

  1. Aww. That’s so lovely, and yes you did. I also appreciate how he puts up with this family 😉. I believe I also chose wisely in that Mr B slotted in quite nicely with my foibles too. I have strong opinions and he supports all my choices. Even though we have moved for his career rather than mine, he supports me being in charge of most other aspects of our lives. We also have never argued, it’s not worth the energy, discussion is more productive 💪. I am independent and an individual but it’s great to be part of a team. Go team Chapman 👏


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