Wednesday, August 02, 2006

That's What I Like About You

Now, Always Aroused Girl has told a story that illustrates everything that is wrong with her marriage. Its about selfishness, about neglect, about not being the priority, about having to take care of herself all the time, about being alone in the marriage. She writes beautifully, as always, but its quite a painful read.

And Tajalude has told a completely different story about a pretty sucky anniversary, and about how her partner can't seem to put her first. His work and other commitments always seem to come before her.

And you know what? Reading thse stories made me realise how lucky I am. When I am occasionally asked why I picked my partner and why I stay with him when its clear that all is not hunky dory, I think of two stories.

When I first met my partner, I was actually with someone else. My now-partner and I were just friends. And my then-boyfriend was a lovely guy. He was very clever, very sweet natured, a good person. And he was much better "husband material"than my partner - my own age, for a start! But I never came first with him. He was a brilliant scientist, and he was always in the laboratory. The man was a workaholic. I spent a lot of time alone. I knew he loved me, but when I needed him, he was rarely there.

Now, one day there was an incident. I had moved house, and in the process I had lost a lot of stuff, including my quilt. Winter was coming on, so not having a quilt was actually kind of a disaster, and I was a poverty-stricken student who couldn't afford to replace it right away. And my then-boyfriend had lent me his sleeping bag.

After a couple of weeks, he wanted it back. He didn't need it, there was no problem, but he just wanted it back. It was his, and he had a right to it. We argued - and I was so upset. Not just because I would be cold, but because of his attitude. I felt so ... uncherished.

Now my friend had heard this argument. The very next day, he turned up at my house with a quilt and told me to keep it as long as I needed it. Great relief. My boyfriend and I made up, and everyone was happy.

Much later, I discovered that my friend did not have another quilt of his own. And he couldn't afford another one either. He had slept under a flag that he had previously used as a floor cover. And he had shivered at night so that I could be warm.

And discovering that was a major turning point in my feelings about him. I think, now, that this was why I chose my partner. I realized that I would always come first with him, even before himself.

And now a second story. As you know, I had our baby son ten months ago and our first weeks were very difficult. I had had a bad, 42 hour labour. Our baby was badly positioned, so it was just hour after hour of long, hard contractions very close together that wore me out but didn't get us anywhere. I had tried very hard to have a drug-free labour, but after 30 hours I just couldn't take it any more and accepted the drugs. Also, I was very committed to breastfeeding, but it didn't work very well. My milk supply never came in properly, despite trying everything that was suggested to us, for weeks on end.

As a result, I was so exhausted, so dispirited, and had such an acute sense of failure. I was afraid that my partner would think I was weak and cowardly for having accepted the drugs. I was afraid that he would think I was a bad mother beause of the breastfeeding failure. And the whole experience was made so much worse by the fact that our baby was born with a painful swelling on his head from the long labour. Between the swelling and the fact that he was starving, he yelled what seemed like 24 hours a day, and I just couldn't get any sleep. The lack of sleep was like torture. After a few days, I felt like I was in a nightmare.

It was my birthday a few days later, and guess what my present was? It was a silver goblet, engraved as having been awarded to me "for conspicuous courage" over the days of my labour. He couldn't possibly have given me anything that would have meant more to me.

And you know what else? He looked at my pale face, the bruises under my eyes, my weepiness and my exhaustion, and he took our baby into his room and did the night shift every night. Not for one night, or for one week, or for one month, but every night. He is still doing it. I am the only mother of a baby I know who gets to sleep all night.

And I will never forget his kindness.


Blogger Rob said...

A beautiful commentary - thanks for sharing it with us Emily.

5:22 PM  
Blogger AlwaysArousedGirl said...

That is beautiful. I'm thrilled that you were inspired by most post to write this.

He gave up his quilt for you...that is a MAN.

One day I'll have to write The Truth About Being a New Mother. :D

6:02 PM  
Blogger loz said...

that's such a beautiful story, Emily. your husband sounds like a truly good man/friend/mate. no wonder you're committed to him! that type of person is definitely a 'keeper', no matter the problems that come along the way. seems to me that problems, when one has a relationship like this to depend on, can really be seen as more opportunities to value life and love.

thanks for sharing all that :). x

11:06 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

It's great to hear the occasional stories about why we love our partners and spouses in the first place. Thanks.

Now I'm wondering if my wife would really like a trophy...

11:48 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement and positive feedback, all.

AAG - I wish you WOULD write that post. I had a try above, but its harder to capture than it looks. And you write so beautifully.

5:16 PM  

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