Valentine’s Day 2003 was a particularly depressing occasion for me. I’d just been dumped on my backside from a great height. The beau concerned had made no attempt to sugar coat the matter with any “its not you its me” explanations. I was left with no illusions as to whose side of the ledger was deficient. He said and I quote ” YOU do not excite me and YOU do not motivate me to become a better person”. It was truly a WTF moment. I had no idea that motivating him to become a better person was in the job description. If I’d known that I’d have bailed sooner. Motivating him to become a better person is a bit like climbing Mt Everest. Its possible but many people die in the attempt. I simply was not up to the job.
Of course I was devastated in the most melodramatic sense. I was thirty two, clucky and desperate to settle down. In my mind I was staring down the barrel of eternal spinsterhood. Anyhow all is well that ends well. Eighteen months later I’d gotten off my sorry butt and on to RSVP where I had the remarkable good fortune of meeting Dadabulous. Now with five years of marriage under our belt and a gorgeous family, my ex’s words still ring loudly in my ears. In a round about way it was the best relationship advice anyone has ever given me.
Let me explain. Marriage is like a job in many respects. The contractual obligations include respect, consideration, communication and putting out on a regular basis (NB: I’m talking about the garbage here). However look in the fine print and you will NOT find keeping your partner in a constant lather of excitement or spurring them on towards self improvement. In fact if you expect your better half to keep you in a perpetual state of stimulation you’re setting yourself up for a huge disappointment. Similarly motivation can only come from within. Expecting someone else to provide it is like presuming your husband will happily sit through a bonnet drama starring Judy Dench on DVD nights. It just ain’t gonna happen.
Marriage is essentially an unexciting proposition. It’s difficult to wake up day after day after day with the same person for the rest of your life no matter how reasonable they are. Actually their very reasonableness would in itself become irritating after a while. If you can do this marriage thing for years on end and still actually like each other, that’s quite an achievement. If you still excite each other, I’d love to know what you are taking.
I am not insinuating that Dadabulous is a dull person and that I’m bored in my marriage. I am continually impressed by his ingenuity and touched by his kindness. His acceptance and companionship have made me a better, more confident person. However my heart doesn’t skip a beat every time I see him. I’m guessing any cardiologist would tell you this is a very unhealthy state of being anyhow. Nor am I saying that married life has to be a featureless stretch like a lifetime spent crossing the Nullabor plain. Its up to the both of you to create that excitement. One can’t expect their spouse to bring it with them.
Nowadays whenever I find myself yearning for the heady rush of new romance I remember my ex and the wisdom he unintentionally imparted. I thank my lucky stars he freed me up to find the most wonderful husband in the world. If that fails I go and look at the larger singleton blogs like City Kat (http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/blog/citykat) and All Men Are Liars (http://www.smh.com.au/executive-style/culture/blog/all-men-are-liars) because nothing makes you appreciate your cosy wicket more than a glimpse of the jungle that is the dating world. Oh the horror, the horror. My marriage mojo rarely needs a tickle after that but if it does I Google Fassbender. This does nothing whatsoever for my marriage but does provide candy for my eyes.
What’s the best marital advice you’ve ever had?
Get yourselves loved up this Valentines Week.