Love the one you’re with

Showing my age there, using *that* song title as a name for my post…

But then, I am getting pretty ancient. As evidenced by the fact that this month we hit our 23rd wedding anniversary. I say hit, it was more the sort of dull thud that a pigeon makes when it knocks itself out careening into your patio doors. Once again, we’ve postponed the celebration, romantic weekend away bit of the anniversary. Other things seem more important right now and people need our attention. But we did manage to exchange cards a week after the actual anniversary, and to share a bottle of fizz before collapsing on the sofa in a snooze pile.

We family lawyers spend most of our time immersed in other people’s relationship breakdowns, how it happened and how it has affected the family. I’ve been surrounded by broken relationships for almost as long as I’ve been married (I started my legal training the week after I got married, skipping the first week’s lectures to tie the knot).

We have a running joke in our house “Right, that’s going in the divorce petition”. Or we did, until no fault divorce came along and stopped our fun. (I know, lawyers have a rum sense of humour.) But in truth, continually seeing other people come to the horrible realisation that leaving their partner hasn’t miraculously made their life a bed of roses (understatement) is a good incentive for working through the problems in your own relationship. I know what the alternate reality looks like. Or at least I know what it looks like when it goes badly enough wrong for people to need a lawyer like me. As I say, it’s quite a good motivator. The grass is not always greener, and at least the frying pan is non-stick.

Actually, as Joni once sang, the frying pan has been a bit too wide lately. Because for ten days last month I was the sole responsible adult at home, as my other half had to fly abroad to be with family. In fact, it isn’t that unusual for us to be apart, as I am often away with work (and have largely. been away since he got back). But when I’m away all I have to worry about is work – I know that he’s there sorting everything out. And that when I get home late he will have plated up some soul food, because he knows I will only have eaten crap on the train. This trip to the states was the first time that he has been away without me for more than a couple of days, and when I’ve been left home alone with the dog and kids for such a sustained period. In fact, it is the longest we have ever spent apart since we met in 1998.

I grumble often about all the things my husband doesn’t do whilst I’m at work. I often have to internally tell myself off for thinking like some sort of throwback husband: ‘What on earth does s/he do all day while I’m bread-winning?’. But this stint was a useful reminder that a lot of the things I take for granted are not in fact the work of the fairies. Because I checked everywhere: there are no fairies. Just me. To shop, tidy, clean, feed, walk, ferry, visit, console, liase, cajole, sort, dispose of and occasionally touch in with the day job.

I’ll be honest, as the day of his outbound flight arrived I was slightly bricking it. Many working parents are juggling this stuff day in day out, but in our household things work (just) because there are two of us and we divide things up. Being responsible for all of it and having no wingman is daunting. In fact I did alright – we were all still alive and speaking¬† when he got back – but I was knackered. And it was only just over a week.

Anyway, the point is this: I have a revived appreciation of my lovely husband. Behind every newly minted KC is a very tired Mr KC.

Actually, that isn’t the point. The real point is that I missed him like hell. We have our different roles in the house, our different strengths and weaknesses (he never cleans the loo, I overload the dishwasher), and each of us does things that annoy the hell out of the other (he says ‘Yes Maaam’ in a loud obnoxious voice because he knows it makes me mad, and I interrupt him alllll the time). But I missed him teasing, annoying and looking after me. Plus by day 8 I’d run out of easy recipes, and the food waste caddy was stinky and full.

Never let it be said divorce lawyers aren’t romantic.

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