He. Me. We

 

I think about marriage a lot.

 
I think about it because if I were not married to Ant I would not be here. This would not be my choice. I am here because he is here and because I Do, I Am.

 
Here.

 
It’s a peculiar thing that I turn over and over in my mind.

 
Can I be a feminist if I have followed a man to the ends of the earth? Because this certainly feels like it – the ends of the earth: at times I’m in danger of falling right off the treacherous precipice upon which I teeter.

 
Can I be my own person if I form one half of a fairly well established duo?

 
And has being a part of a pair eroded my identity as an individual? Particularly given alienating, dislocating, isolating geography?

 

Is defining yourself as Wife Mother (writer) enough?

 
Ought I have striven for something Professional (with a payslip and a private pension?)

 
I was so young when I got married that I did not think beyond the romance of it all – the Big White Wedding. Playing at House. And then I became a mother and was subsumed by all the deliciousness and the demands that came with children.

 
It’s only now, as I come up for air, that I have the time and the perspective from which to ponder.

 
Would I have done it differently?

 
Sometimes I really hate living here sometimes. Abhor the loneliness. The struggling for occupation. The scratching for purpose.

 

But a year ago – and because of our constrained circumstances and unsettledness – Ant and I were forced to live countries apart for four months. And I did not do well: living apart. Not because I was unable to cope. I lived alone in a house on a farm, paid bills, cooked glass, wrote, went out with friends, drove many lonely miles, remembered to eat (occasionally). My geography was kinder; there were cappuccinos and pedicures to be had within ten minutes of my gate.

 
No. Not because I was unable to cope. But because a part of my definition, after twenty five years in the job, is the business of this partnership.

 
We sit side by side at my desk (which he has rolled his eyes at for my papers lie strewn all over it and he must clear a small space for his laptop) and we work in mostly quiet companionship, separately but towards a common end. Instead of eating solitary toast and marmite for supper, I prepare chilli chicken for two. Not because I feel obliged in manner of Good Obedient Housewife, but because food in the company of others is, for me, a celebration.

 
We have made so many mistakes together. Lost thousands on bad ideas. Cried a bit. Laughed a lot. We have raised three children. We have fought. But mostly we have carved from the other a small space to fit a part of ourselves. A part. He remains He, and I Me. Perfectly able separately but much happier as We.

 
I would not be here if he weren’t.

 
So how do I know that I am equal in this union? How do I know my role counts, my contribution to this arrangement matters? Makes a difference?

 
Because he wouldn’t be here without me either.

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15 Responses to “He. Me. We”

  1. carol Says:

    Well said! You make a great team. That is worth celebrating. Your kids are lucky to have parents like you, to have lived in different places and had such a wide range of experiences. Most of all, I think you are fortunate to both appreciate the other – as a team you can survive anywhere… keep writing.

  2. Pondering Says:

    I dip in and out of your blog and always enjoy your eloquent words. You have summed up marriage, partnership and living with your soulmate perfectly. It doesn’t matter where you live or what you achieve, without each other you wouldn’t be you and he wouldn’t be him x

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      thank you Pondering. No, you’re right – he wouldn’t be he nor I me. after so many years, along with the dents, bit of the other rubs off.

  3. Seeking Says:

    I think a lot of what you are feeling is also midlife “stuff”. The end of child rearing – which is like waking from a long sleep – stirs up feelings and forces us to question our identity again. All our parameters have moved or changed. If you are no longer a mother in the same way, who are you? Now is a great time to delve deeper and question your motivations and identity. I found the book “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life” by James Hollis to be very useful when delving these depths

  4. Miss Footloose Says:

    I am sure your words resonate with many wives (mostly wives, rather than husbands) who live in places they would have never chosen to live in. Marriage will always be a partnership, and you make choices, hopefully freely, to go and do what works for the partnership. You work with the tools you have, the ones that are available within the partnership, and then you make the decision to make it work, to be happy. It is a decision. It is not just a feeling that happens or not happens. Oh, gosh, it sounds like I’ve had one too many. Enough already.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Mostly wives Miss Footloose, you’re right – mostly wives. Sometimes I wonder if we have different resources to begin with. Or if we just make them up as we go along? because our roles are constantly evolving?

  5. sustainablemum Says:

    It is not possible to turn back the clock and live again to see what might have been if you had not trodden the path you have taken. Marriage is a special partnership and it sounds like yours is very special even though it has taken you in directions that have been and still are challenging and hard.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      you’re right sustainablemum: you can’t turn the clock back. but i think next move we might work on a slightly kinder geography! x

  6. docmomma Says:

    My husband followed me across the US and back. Now he is disabled, and I am the breadwinner. It’s a give and take. And you can’t always anticipate how things will work out. You just roll with it and be there for each other. You’ve done well!

  7. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    That was so eloquently put.
    Your words resonate with me too because as I get older, I wonder how much all my life choices have been a result of marrying young to a man I knew would be able to support me whatever I did.
    But reading between the lines of your words, it sounds as if you have an incredibly strong bond, and in the end I believe that is what matters in life. That will be your legacy, as I hope it will be with me.

  8. Back Again … | Reluctant Memsahib Says:

    […] When I first got here, trailing children and a bad attitude, I was the only permanent one. Steadfastly hanging on, grimly, through gritted teeth and crossly-slit eyes. Partly in my determination that I could bloody well do this. Partly for a lack of choice. Largely because alternatives didn’t make economic sense. Mostly because I said I would; I did. […]

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