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Tales from Tawa: A Happy Marriage

Eve-Marie Wilson, with a sprinkling of humour and a dash of drama, reveals the ingredient that ensures a marriage will bring happiness to both partners.

Although we’d only been married six weeks, my husband, Nick was driving me insane. Call me old fashioned, but I’d always imagined once wed I’d leave my boring job at the local supermarket and devote my time to becoming a homemaker. I saw myself as the type of woman who could produce a cordon bleu meal at the drop of a hat, somebody who would never let a jar of commercially made jam, a shop bought tin of fruit, or a ready made meal over the doorstep.

I’d scrub and polish and dust until my house glistened with pristine cleanliness and I’d still find time to sew, knit and crochet. In the evening and on the weekends, I’d entertain. Friends and relatives would praise my ability as a hostess. In short, I would be labeled a domestic goddess. However, it was not to be. Nick persuaded me to stay on at the supermarket until we started a family. “The extra money will help with the mortgage,” he said, “but don’t worry, luv, I’ll do my share of the housework. We don’t want you exhausting yourself,” he said, giving me a suggestive look.

True to his word, he pitched in and helped. In fact, he wouldn’t let me do a thing. He finished work before me and by the time I arrived home, there was a meal ready to serve. “You rest dear, I’ll take care of the dishes,” he said, after we had eaten. He took over the washing, ironing, vacuuming and cleaning. He didn't want me doing any job that was heavy, dirty or necessitated my hands being in water. It got to the stage where I felt I could scream.

“I’m leaving, Nick,” I told my astounded mother.

“What,” she said, “after only six weeks? What on earth for? Anybody can see he’s besotted with you, so he can’t possibly be involved with somebody else.”

“Of course he’s not,” I snapped.

“Does he beat you then?” she asked?

“No.”

“Does he take all your wages and gamble them away?”

“No.”

“Does he come home in drunken rage every night?”

“No.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“He’s too dam perfect,” I screamed. “He won’t let me do any housework.”

After she had finished laughing and telling me I didn’t know how lucky I was, I was able to explain how I felt more like an ornament than a wife. “I’m unable to move in my own home,” I sobbed. “You’ve been married for 40 years, Mum; what shall I do?”

“The secret to a happy marriage is communication,” she said. “Tell him how you feel.”

That night I explained to Nick that I was grateful for his help, but in future I’d prefer to do without it. “I want to be a proper wife,” I said. “One who looks after her own home. I don’t want you to help with the housework.”

He looked rather crest fallen. “You mean not at all?”

“Yes,” I nodded

“Well, if that’s what you want. I was just trying to be a good husband. I didn’t want you to think you’d married a chauvinist pig.”

Overnight that’s exactly what he became. He never did a hands turn. Rather than coming home to an evening meal, I came home to Nick on the couch watching the sports channel. He never washed a dish and completely forgot what a tea towel was for. He dropped his dirty clothes on the bedroom floor rather than putting them in the washing basket, he left towels in the bath and expected me to be at his beck and call. I was run ragged.

Not wanting to burden Mum with my problems again I turned to my older sister. She’d been happily married to her husband, Billy for 14 years and she went to work. I was sure she’d have the answer.

“What am I going to do?” I asked her. “Nick is acting exactly the way I asked him to. If I ask him to help now, he’ll think I’m nagging.”

“The secret to a happy marriage is cooperation,” she said. “I’d never be able to manage the house and go out to work without Billy’s help. Tell him you can’t manage and you’d like to share the household chores.”

Once again I explained my concerns to Nick. After some discussion we developed a system of pink jobs for me and blue jobs for him. For instance, I would cook a meal and he’d wash the dishes afterwards, he’d peg the washing on the line and I’d do the ironing. This worked well for a while, but as many of his designated tasks such as mowing the lawn, or planting a vegetable garden, were outdoors and mine were indoors, we spent more time apart than together. I felt lonely and neglected. Being married hadn’t turned out at all as I thought it would.

One evening while Nick was busy with a blue job, decorating the lounge, and I was busy with a pink job, sewing new curtains, I heard an almighty crash followed by a loud thump come from the direction of the lounge. I dropped my sewing and ran to see what had caused it. To my horror, Nick was lying on the floor with the ladder on top of him. “Dear God in heaven!” I exclaimed as I hastily removed the ladder. I knelt down and gently shook him. “Speak to me, Nick.” He lay there ashen and unresponsive. For one awful moment I thought he was dead, but the flickering of a pulse in his neck told me he was unconscious. “Wake up, Nick,” I whispered, as I shook him again. He didn’t move. Tears spilled from my eyes and ran down my cheeks. “Please don’t die,” I sobbed. “I don’t care about blue jobs and pink jobs or who does what. I’ll wait on you hand and foot for the rest of your life, just please don’t die.”

He groaned. His eyes flickered. Then he rubbed the bump on his head, “Don’t go making any rash promises,” he whispered, at the same time managing to give a small grin.

As I cradled him in my arms, I realized although Mum and my sister had given me good advice, the secret to a happy marriage was love.


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