Before we got married, many moons ago, Mr M and I attended some Marriage Preparation classes. Before we started them we rolled our eyes a bit, and dreaded the thought of Sunday afternoons spent with other uncomfortable couples in the Minister's front room. We were convinced we could learn nothing new about each other, that we had discussed everything thoroughly, that after 10 years together there was no stone unturned.
But, you know what? Even to this day I could not advocate them highly enough.
It was a bit uncomfortable in places, I'll give you that, but we also learnt three very important lessons.
In a row, you will either be a hedgehog (the prickly, withdrawn, silent treatment sort who holds a grudge forever and ever and ever) or a rhino (the door-slamming, shouty, quick-tempered sort who gets it out of their system and then never speaks of it again). I'm still not sure what the best combination is, only that Mr M is most definitely a rhino, and I am a hedgehog through and through. I think even acknowledging this helps us be aware how to tread carefully.
Sometimes it's just snorts and prickles flying everywhere.
There's a time and a place for a good argument.
In a similar vein to the whole animal metaphor, we also receive love differently. For some it's in little gifts and flowers and declarations of affection (not gonna' lie, this would be me given half the chance. Especially if The Love came wrapped in tissue paper, in a bag with the word Mulberry on the front.)
Others receive it practically; in help around the house, support with work and children, cups of tea and in fixing the washing machine when it leaks (ooh, but this is a good one too. I don't know one end of an electric drill from the other. Can I not have a bit of both??)
The way we give it, and the way we receive it can be very different. The magic is in knowing your other half well enough, to know how they'll feel appreciated most.
And the third little lesson came courtesy of a story that we were told.
An elderly couple who had been married for sixty years were asked what the key to their long, healthy union had been. The husband answered that it had been time together, laughter, conversation and shared memories. And the wife? Well she answered that she kept a list of five annoying traits that her husband had. Traits that she would mentally excuse him of, all in the name of preserving their union. If an occasion arose where an argument was brewing, she would simply think 'is that on the list?' and, if so, breathe deeply, smile sweetly and say no more about it. When the interviewer commented that that must have taken some commitment over the years, she answered 'Yes dear. There were many rows avoided. And I can't even remember what those five things were now. Every time we disagree, I just add it to the list.'
I'm not sure that I have the strength of character, or the patience to be as admirable as that lady, but the story has always stayed with me. I sometimes wonder has Mr M got that list for me. Is he ticking it off in his head when I don't stack the dishwasher right, or when I put food in the actual bin, rather than the food one. Or when I forget AGAIN that envelopes don't go in the recycling, but milk cartons do (to be fair, a lot of his niggles with me are kitchen related!)
If he is, then I'm thankful for it. For we are two very imperfect people. Those lists are looong.
But despite all that, this rhino and this hedgehog?
They're a pretty perfect match.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin