25 years ago, two weeks after my 25th birthday I married my best friend. We made promises to each other and ended these vows with the words " till death us do part". We never imagined that our marriage would actually be littered with near death experiences which would test those vows. But as the regular readers of this blog know, this has been our lot in life with two people in this family with Cowden's syndrome.
Every medical challenge came and went and each time we braced ourselves, cried, prayed, yelled and wondered why us. Each time our relationship was tested and some times it was worse then others. Sometimes it would have been easier to walk away. From my perspective I was causing my husband pain and it broke my heart to see him suffer as he was. I often wanted to leave and protect him from further anguish. From his perspective, he couldn't fix it, it was horrible to see someone you love go through so much and it would have been so simple to get in the car and drive off. But that never happened because to give up on each other was never an option.
A cousin of my husband said recently that she was surprised we were still together after all we'd been through. In reality the reason we are still together is because of all we've been through. It's made us tougher and more resilient.
But don't get me wrong here. Don't for a moment think we don't argue, disagree or fight. We are both hot blooded and prone to being argumentative. We both have faults. But what we've learnt is that these things are "small stuff". We've experienced the hard stuff well and truly so we know the difference. We've stood at the side of the big, black holes, contemplated jumping in and never did. After experiencing and surviving those times you learn to not sweat the small stuff. You yell and scream at each other, kiss each other goodnight and move on. You work arguments out because once upon a time you promised " till death us do part" and the "small stuff" isn't death. Not even close.
So because 25 years is a long time and my supermarket buddy thinks this is fast becoming a rarity, I thought I'd share with you what works for me. Maybe you can borrow or use one of my tips with your partner. ( Please turn on your sense of humour before reading further).
- Cultivate a deep belief that you're always right and that they are deeply misguided in thinking they are.
- Learn to listen but not hear. I tend to use this when my husband is explaining at length why the car isn't working and how he's fixing it.
- Hide the chocolate and wine for your own personal emergency use.
- Occasionally do what makes them happy. ( Hi I'm Suzi and I love long drives in the countryside...wink, wink).
- Drag them away for time out regularly. Leave town together and book into a nice hotel room that someone else has to clean. Eat nice food that someone else has to cook and use multiple plates that someone else will wash up.
- Laugh and pull faces when partner is angry over nonsense. Please make sure it is nonsense first. Re- read point 1. Works with grumpy teenagers too.
- Demand hugs and say " I love you" regularly.
- For really serious " small stuff" ( eg he ate your chocolate stash), go through in your mind how you would kill him. Do not enact this plan. I repeat DO NOT ENACT THIS PLAN.
- Hide occasionally and recharge alone. I love a coffee shop visit, my husband a massage.
- You don't have to have the last word. Learn to shut up because remember point 1.
Happy anniversary sweetheart. I love you. I really do, TILL DEATH US DO PART and possibly for a long time after.
Till next time...xxx